Posted on February 21st, 2013 by Timothy Boyle
This is the first installment of an ongoing look at how NOT to use QR codes. As I stumble upon poor uses I will be sure to post a blog so we can all laugh at them and learn from them.
Entry number one: Henry Gill. If you look at the ad (Right), you might think “well that’s kind of a cool creative way to run a QR code ad,” and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. The good thing is that the code stands out, it is the focus of the entire ad, and it is done in a creative way. Two problems though. First, and of less importance, is that only people already familiar with QR codes are going to know this is a QR code and that they can scan it, so a clarification or particularly a call to action is necessary to get the full benefit of using a QR code. Second and most importantly, this advertisement is in an in-flight magazine. Pause and think about that for a second… I’ll wait… Doesn’t do you much good to have a QR code if your customer doesn’t have access to the internet, right?
It is vitally important that when you are planning on using a QR code in your advertisement or marketing materials you think about where the person will be when they are likely to scan the code. If you know the ad is going to be in an in-flight magazine you do not use a QR code, because unless a person takes the magazine with them, or is looking at the magazine in the few minutes before take-off, they won’t be able to scan the code. If your code is going to be in the subway, for another example, you will want to know if there is wi-fi access there or not and so on for all marketing or advertising campaigns that plan on using QR codes.
Towards the first mistake made in this ad, you must use calls to action. Most people are not going to scan a code (assuming they know that is what they are supposed to do) if they are unsure what the benefit is. So you must make sure there is a good reason to scan the code and make sure anyone reading the ad or marketing materials will be aware of this reason. Entice them to scan it, don’t just place it in a sea of white and expect someone to waste precious seconds of their life scanning your potentially useless code. People have celebrities to follow and can’t spend their whole life risking seconds of their time finding out if your QR code is worth their time to scan.
For most information on QR code best practices go here. And please, think before you code.
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Posted on January 26th, 2013 by Jason Summerfield
One of the great things about QR codes is that they can add a new dimension to printed materials by sending users directly to video that complements the printed piece.
For those who want to point their QR code at a video, YouTube has become a popular option, and with good reason – YouTube offers a mobile-friendly video display, and it’s very easy to simply point your QR code to a URL for a YouTube video. If you just want to share a video, sending users to a YouTube page is a practical option. Unfortunately, this approach also leaves a number of important things to be desired.
For one thing, a YouTube page does not provide a branded experience – your visitors will see YouTube’s brand first and foremost, not yours. More importantly, once a user is done watching a video on YouTube there isn’t much they can do to actually interact with your business or organization after they are done watching the video.
The purpose of sharing a video usually goes beyond simply getting users to view it – ultimately the goal is to get users to take some sort of meaningful action, such as:
- Request information with a lead capture form
- Sign up or register for something
- Buy something
- Send an email, SMS message, etc.
The problem is that you can’t do these things with on a YouTube page. If you’re really serious about using QR codes and mobile media as effectively as possible, pointing a QR code at a YouTube page is a missed opportunity to really engage your target audiences and convert their visits into meaningful action.
A Better Approach – Mobile Landing Pages with Embedded Video
In order more effectively share video through a QR code and also engage viewers, you need to create a custom landing page. With this approach, is approach you embed the video into the page and also offer whatever additional information or call-to-action will be most helpful to engage viewers once they are done watching the video.
This landing page approach holds a number of inherent benefits over a YouTube page, including:
- Customize with your brand
- Embed video from the source of your choice (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu, etc)
- Provide additional information, photos, links and other resources
- Engage with social media
- Integrate actionable lead capture tools with contact forms, email , SMS or phone
The next time you’re considering how to promote your business or organization with QR codes and video, make sure you think beyond the video and consider the actions you want viewers to take once you’ve engaged them, and what else you can offer them while you have their attention. This approach is sure to amplify the results of your next video QR code campaign.
Using YouTube as a landing page is great exposure for YouTube, but doesn’t provide much in terms of actionable conversions or brand awareness for your business or organization.
A custom landing page not only provides the visitor with a video, but also a number of other options for engagement and direct interaction with your brand.
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Posted on January 16th, 2013 by Timothy Boyle
Most museums, whether they are art, history or any other subject, often times have little more than a paragraph on a plaque explaining the exhibit. If you are not already well versed in the subject at hand you will likely be at a loss for what you are viewing, and hard pressed to learn very much about the subject with the little information being provided to you.
The answer to this problem for museums isn’t to post essays on the plaques, besides being an unpleasant look it would also be clumsy, lack engagement and during busy times wouldn’t be very efficient for the museum goers. Instead what museums must do, if their goal is to increase traffic, teach museum goers, or simply improve the museum experience, is to find ways to engage the visitor by providing interesting and relevant information in an exciting, convenient media. Enter the QR code.
The way to accomplish these goals–that is how to drive traffic, help uneducated visitors learn and improve the overall experience–is by allowing museum goers to access information by QR code. This may seem like a simple task at first, and perhaps for those skeptics out there you may even question that it would even work, but there is far more to this then simply posting a QR codes next to an exhibit and having it direct you to a Wikipedia page on the subject at hand. No, for this QR code technology to work the visitor must be directed to media that is engaging, interesting and requires little effort. So what does this mean?
Instead of simply having the QR code direct a person to an article or written source on the subject, the QR code should direct someone to an interactive website, a video on the subject, or an audio tour of the exhibit or particular item. The latter allows for private, free, audio tours for anyone with a smart phone and earphones and can provide far more information than just a small plaque. As visitors enter an exhibit a sign would alert them to the free audio tour on their own personal smart phone upon scanning of the code (instructions on how to do this must be given also). The tour would then guide them throughout the exhibit. Or another great way to engage the visitor, if the visitor wishes not to take a full audio tour, is to have codes provide audio specific to a particular item, or video specific to an exhibit or sub-exhibit. The video would need to be relevant, exciting and maybe five minutes long at most. This would ensure the museum goers were engaged, interested, and learned more than they otherwise would have with just a plaque. As long as the QR code directs the visitor to an interactive and relevant landing page, this should ensure the success of the undertaking.
Many museums around the world have begun to use the QR code technology to improve the customer’s experience, with some doing a much better job than others. A couple great examples are Cleveland Museum of Art , the Bologna Museum of Archeology (along with many other Italian museums) and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
Both the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Bologna Museum of Archeology have begun using QR codes that upon scanning allow the visitor to be taken on an audio and video guided tour of particular galleries and exhibits or entire museum tours, greatly enhancing the visitor’s experience.
The Smithsonian natural History Museum have used QR codes in various ways, but one creative, fun, and interactive way was using it as part of their Neanderthals exhibit. Upon scanning the QR code the visitor was sent to a landing page where they could upload a photo of themselves and the site would show them what they would have supposedly looked like some 30,000 years ago. This could then be shared on the various social networks. Of course this isn’t terribly educational, but it is fun and engaging and a way to drive interest and excitement for the museum.
There are all sorts or creative ways museums could use QR codes to drive traffic and improve overall experience for the visitor. But just using QR codes is not enough, a QR code is only as good as the media it is linked to, so one must make sure that the scanning of a QR code is worth the effort or the QR code campaign you are attempting will more than likely end in failure.
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Posted on January 13th, 2013 by Jason Summerfield
We all know the job market is more competitive than ever, and for job hunters that means anything that can help separate your résumé from the competition is critical. Some tech-savvy applicants are now realizing that using a QR Code on a traditional resume is a practical way to immediately make your resume more engaging and gain a competitive advantage over other applicants.
If the practical applications of a QR Code on a resume aren’t immediately apparent, consider that the QR Code is basically a bridge that can immediately connect the reader/employer with interactive tools and media that would otherwise not be possible with a printed sheet of paper. For example, the employer reading your resume can simply scan your QR Code with their smartphone to immediately access your personal resume page with features such as:
- Samples of your work (graphics and/or video)
- Testimonials from clients or colleagues
- Touch-friendly contact functions like click-to-call and click-to-email
- Social media channels
- Links to websites related to your skills and/or experience
With advantages such as these, it’s not hard to understand how QR Codes are increasing in popularity among savvy job seekers. The Boston Globe just printed an article on this very topic: “Multimedia resumes can help candidates stand out“. In the article, the Globe highlights the use of QR codes by one job seeker named Igor Kharitonenkov who used a QR code on his resume in order to highlight his video production skills, which ultimately helped him stand out enough to land a competitive communications coordinator position with City Year Boston over 200 other applicants.
The communications director for City Year, Jonathan Palumbo, stated the following about Kharitonenkov’s interactive resume, and the impact it had on his hiring decision:
“What made his resume really stand out was the use of the QR code,” Palumbo said. “It wasn’t the novelty of including the QR code, but rather the fact that it brought us directly to examples of projects he had completed with other organizations.”
The point here is critical – it’s not the novelty of the QR code alone that will give you a competitive advantage in the job hunt, but rather the way that it’s put to use to strategically reinforce your skills and desirability as a job applicant. In other words, it’s not the code on the resume that matters as much as what happens after the code is scanned.
For job seekers that want to create an interactive resume with a QR Code, It’s important to carefully consider what it is you want to offer viewers after the code is scanned; after all, a poor implementation can lead to an underwhelming user experience and leave a negative impression, rather than a positive one.
Ideally, the QR code will take the viewer to a highly personalized custom landing page or micro-site that is mobile-optimized for viewing on handheld devices used to scan QR codes. You’ll also want to make sure the code is of high quality and easy to scan, and avoid common QR code mistakes.
So exactly how do you create a QR code with a mobile landing page that’s professional and suitable for your resume? If you’re familiar with mobile marketing and/or have mobile web development experience, you may be able to put something together on your own. Otherwise, all-in-one platforms like Qfuse make it easy to not only generate professional-grade, dynamic QR codes, but also produce full-featured landing pages that look great on smartphones. Best of all, these platforms allow you to view the scan activity on your code (so you know how it’s performing), and even update where the code goes so that you maintain total control, even after the code has been printed and published.
QR Codes are but one of many tools that the contemporary job-seeker can employ to stand out from the crowd with an interactive multimedia resume. But it’s important to keep in mind that the technology alone isn’t what makes the difference – ultimately these tools serve to highlight your core skills and experience and bring them to the forefront, but it needs to be done well, and of course you need to have the core skills and experience in the first place. Assuming you do, QR codes are a great way to engage prospective employers in new and exciting ways.
Once you’re hired, make an impact with clients and colleagues by placing a QR Code on your business card!
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Posted on September 11th, 2012 by Mike Caha
There’s a been a great deal of cyber talk around the QR Code corn maze that set the new Guinness World Record recently.
According to the media coverage of this massive QR Code on web sites like the Huffington Post, the Kraay family corn maze QR Code pointed to the family farm’s website when scanned – presumably a non-smartphone friendly desktop website. Even though the QR Code probably won’t get scanned all that much in the real world – unless you happen to be flying over the family farm at low altitude – I wanted to understand the details of the code itself.
QR Code Configuration
There is absolutely no reason why a QR Code shouldn’t have tracking and analytics capabilities integrated into its configuration and point visitors to mobile friendly content – and it very well may! (Check out some example mobile websites if you’d like.) In short, it’s simple to avoid common QR Code mistakes.
Even after a substantial photo editing effort including contrast filtering, manual reconstruction, color replacement, and about a half dozen other techniques, I still wasn’t able to get the QR Code into a condition that I could scan it so I have no way of finding out how this record-breaking QR Code was configured, :(. I guess this one will remain a mystery.
Regardless, congrats to the Kraay family for setting a new record and for successfully using a QR Code to bring awareness to their business!
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