qr code

Using QR Codes for Your Business – Do’s and Don’ts

QR codes are everywhere – on buses, flyers, shirts, banners – if it’s printed, it’s likely to have a QR code attached to it somewhere. Although it’s not a new technology (the “Quick Response Code” was initially used in Toyota manufacturing in 1994), the popularity of the QR code is growing at an astonishing rate. According to the Mobile Barcode Q2 2011 Trend Report, there are 20,000 new QR code application activations every day. The same report also cited that the top product catergories scanned is “food and drink” with 35%. Because of this QR code mania, the codes often go unnoticed or unused. That being the case, if your business chooses to use a QR code in its marketing, you should make sure that you’re leveraging this technology in the most effective way possible. Below, we have outlined some do’s and don’ts to make sure your QR code gets the most bang for the buck.


  • Don’t have the QR code go to your website homepage – it can be a disappointment for one of your customers who takes the time to scan a QR code, wait’s for it to load, and then it goes to your restaurants homepage. They could have already manually gone to your homepage in that time. Content linked to a QR code should be different and exciting – something your customers don’t already know.
  • Don’t have your QR code be broken – This might sound obvious, but we have experienced multiple QR codes that don’t work, no matter what phone or app you use – it’s actually what inspired this post. This is frustrating to the customer and looks unprofessional. Make sure the link is working and that the QR code is large enough to be scanned.
  • Don’t forget about your QR code – If the information on your QR is advertised as being updated weekly or monthly, make sure you follow through with the expectations you have set.
  • Don’t have your QR code lead users to non-mobile content – This may sound obvious, but many people don’t realize how important this is. If the page your QR code leads to is difficult to view on a mobile device, it’s not likely to keep your audience’s attention. It is also a good idea for the content not to use a Flash. This way, more of your customers will be able to view your content and they will have a more pleasant experience doing so.


  • Do have a compelling call to action –   If your business is a restaurant, some examples might be a recipe from your chef, a list of beers that are currently on tap, a coupon or discount that can be used immediately if the QR code is shown, a registration to a newsletter, being entered into a contest, nutritional facts, directions to the restaurant, etc. All of these types of content offer your audience a new, unique way to identify with your brand.
  • Do have special content – Like we said before – exciting, new, or exclusive content.  Scanning your QR code should bring your customer to some sort of special content – something they would have normally not seen.
  • Do have a nice design – If you have a unique design or placement of your QR code people will be more inclined to scan it.
Some examples of creative QR code design via @Mashable
  • Do have a teaser for your QR code – More people will scan your QR code if you have a phrase next to it like “scan this to find out our recipe of the week” or, “scan this to get a special deal.”
  • Do have an explanation for what a QR code is – Many people are still unaware of what a QR code is, or its benefits. Make sure your staff is aware of how to use a QR code, some apps to tell customers to download, and that they know what your QR code goes to.

Have you seen effective (and ineffective) use of QR codes by businesses? Do you have any tips to add? Please leave your comments in the section below!

Halley Sheffield

Halley Sheffield is the Director of Marketing at 451 Marketing @halleyalice

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