English articles, QR, Uncategorized

9 best practice rules for QR mobile marketing

They pop up everywhere, the QR codes. Smartphone users scan them, and then, what? Happy QR users? Irritated, annoyed, disappointed? A QR code is a marketing tool and hence it serves no one if it leads to nothing. A QR code is a link, a link for a camera, but nonetheless a link. A link is a promise. What to do when your organisation wants to deploy QR codes? Here are some best practice rules.

The best practice rules in this article are an extract from an upcoming free whitepaper. Sign up now and get notified when it is available.

1 – Optimize the landing page

Most surely the first rule: have a readable and an adapted landing page. QR codes will be scanned when people are on the move, most probably with a smartphone with a below 4.5 inch screen. That’s small.


  • make your landing page responsive (i.e. responsive design adapts the lay-out automatically to the device and the screen it detects)

  • or have a web page with a really simple design and html-settings (e.g. in a 100% table that adapts to screen width) with small images and large text.

Making people scroll is fine, but have the core of what they are after in the first screen.

And if the message or the action requires multiple pages, optimize these as well for the small screens.

2 – Live up to the promise of the link

We can’t say it enough: a QR code is a link and a link is a promise. If you fail to deliver what was promised or what the person reasonably could expect, you let an interested person down. You not only miss an opportunity to delight someone about your business, you send them away with a negative experience. And you will have let your colleagues marketers down as well, because they will not easily scan another QR link.

3 – Only 1 action or task

Focus on one task, on one type of action. Whether it is a movie, a product page, a joke, a form to fill in, whatever: focus on the one task.

  • Don’t send the person to a menu page. People can and will get confused, focus will drift away from the promise

  • Don’t send the person to the home page, unless you promised them a general ‘get to know us better’ (these promises sound weak, few people will scan). And anyhow: send them to a mobile web page, to an optimized page (rule # 1)

4 – Make it a useful experience

First and foremost: make it a technically flawless experience, with no unreadable buttons, confusing lay-out, images that exceed the screen width, what have you.

Whatever the task and the focus is, give usefulness. It may be a small, short action or experience, but keep in mind that is has to be that good that people are willing to tell others in a positive way.

5 – Add context

Image a link that says “Click here” without any clue what you will get when you click. From the context you may know a brand name, but that’s it. Would you click? Of course not. Well, every day you can find QR codes with no clue of what you’ll get. That’s not good practice. A QR code is a link, so explain the promise.

At least try to explain what people can expect when they scan the code. Not only give them a reason to start on that path, make sure they understand.

  • A URL may not be enough. It will explain where the promise is, not what.

  • If the QR leads to an app or other download, do use the word download. That’s only fair. Same with registration, follow or like.

  • If the landing page is a movie, do mention it. People may prefer not to connect to the movie, depending on the download limits on their data plan. They will appreciate the warning. And for those attracted to movies on their mobile device, it can entice them.

6 – Stop shouting

Stop the marketing babble as soon as the scan has taken place. As Gerry McGovern says: Offline marketing is about getting attention, online marketing is about paying attention.

You already got the attention of the person who scanned the QR and connected to the landing page. Stop getting his attention, stop the shouting and the waving and the boasting and all the typical marketing braggery.

Go to the usefulness – immediately.

7 – Test and measure

Test the experience with real users and observe what happens. Testing a QR code can be more complicated that testing web pages. To start with, you can’t change the code once it is distributed in the offline world. So, be prepared to change the landing page, i.e. not the URL but the content of the page.

And measure. Follow what happens, most certainly if your aim is conversion. Adapt the page as soon as you detect a pattern that indicates that users have problems doing what they’re supposed to do.

Quantity may be an issue. Little is known about the success of QR codes. Benchmarks with numbers of scans, conversion, etc. seem not to be available. Scan and usage figures may be low, too low to find patterns or draw conclusions.

Deploying the QR on different support media (billboards, newspapers, magazines, wrappings, shop windows, etc) will most probably give different success results. Why not using a different QR code for every support, in order to be able to track the origin of the scan?

8 – Serve a business objective

Last, but of course not least. On purpose, I didn’t start the best practice list with this point, although it is what initiates the whole idea of putting a QR code to work. Describe what you want to achieve for your business. Don’t lose the business purpose from sight. However, when preparing everything to make the QR work for the business purpose, think customer, think customer experience, think task.

9 – Make QRs on websites clickable

In some cases, it makes sense to have QR codes on websites. If you put the QR code on the website, make sure people can click on it and go to the same landing page as if they would have used the camera of their smartphone. A QR code may not have been meant for use on a website (unless for downloading an app to a smartphone), but if a person happens to be in front of his computer screen, don’t make him or her reach for the smartphone, scan, etcetera. Make the QR clickable and one person will not have got irritated with you.

These best practice rules are an extract from an upcoming free whitepaper.

Sign up now and get notified when it is available.


About Toon Lowette

Customer is not king on the internet, he is dictator. Online services are successful if they allow the customer to do what he came for efficiently and without confusion. Toon Lowette is online publishing consultant in the Customer Carewords network of Gerry McGovern. Task management is the central issue. We teach websites to manage the task, not the content, not the technology. We teach websites to become relentlessly customer centric.


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