How to Add Value with Your QR Code - dummies

By Joe Waters

The question is whether QR Codes are the right tool for the job. Do they get the job done? Do they add value to the project? Ask yourself these two questions before embarking on any marketing campaign that involves QR Codes:

Here are a few more suggestions:

  • The code should do one thing. This point seems easy because creating a QR Code requires you enter one data point (a URL, phone number, map, YouTube video, and so on). But are you really directing the user to one thing?

    Using a QR Code to open a website is one thing, but not if it takes the user to a page with too many options. You might be better off directing them to a certain page on your website. If you run an auto dealership and your QR Code dials a phone number, where does it go — sales, parts, service? Drill down to that one thing you want your QR Code to accomplish.

  • Consider the context. If you want to use your QR Code to give your customers a coupon for apples, where should you place the QR Code — at the apple bin in the aisles or at the register? In the aisles is probably a better option, because the line at the register is generally hectic, and the shopper may have forgotten what the QR Code is for. Context matters. Strive to think like your audience.

  • Be relevant. Lately, whenever I get a phone book delivered to my house, I notice the cover often has a QR Code on it so I can download the phone book app on my mobile device.

    The phone book company is trying to connect with mobile-savvy customers who will quickly dispose of the paper phone book but may want a mobile option. The QR Code delivers a viable alternative that I might not have considered if I hadn’t seen it.


  • Move the user down the funnel. Your QR Code should move your customer closer to buying.

    If I run a wine company and I put QR Codes on my wine bottles, what should they link to? My website? Or would I be better off linking it to customer reviews of my wines? Or how about a pairing of the wine with recipes? Which one is more likely to close the sale?

    Fortunately, you can track each strategy and see which QR Code is most effective in moving the consumer to buy.

  • Enhance the experience. This suggestion is my most important takeaway on using QR Codes. The code should do something different, something that the thing it’s on can’t do. Give it a real purpose.

The last thing you want is someone scanning your QR Code and then being disappointed when it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t follow these three tips:

  • Make sure your QR Codes are at least one-by-one inch. Some older mobile devices can’t read codes smaller than this.

  • Make sure to use a URL shortener. If you embed a long URL on your QR Code, you’ll increase the chance that the code will be “too busy” and won’t scan. Shortening the URL produces a cleaner code that’s easily read. Three popular URL shorteners are,, and Bitly.

  • Make sure your QR Code has a quiet zone. This is the white area around the actual code that separates the code from what’s around it. QR Codes you create will come with a 4mm border that you shouldn’t block or reduce. Every QR Code is unique piece of digital art. Don’t ruin it by removing the frame.