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The Berkshire Mall and Good QR Code Use

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BerkshireI was traveling through western Massachusetts a couple weeks back and had to stop by a local mall in the Berkshire’s for a meeting with a customer.  I walked in and what did I see but a large sign emphasizing a QR code.  My day was made.

The first thing I will say about this particular use of a QR code is that they are really using the code well by making it the focal point of their advertisement.  But of course they don’t want people to just scan the code for its own sake, but instead to direct customers to their Berkshire Mall website/blog.  When you use a QR code you should always have an actual purpose, rather than using a QR code just to use one.  Whether this purpose is to drive traffic to your website or blog as we see here, or to drive sales or provide information, it does not matter, so long as there is a benefit to you or your customer.

When you use a QR code it is vital that there be a call to action to convince someone to scan the code.  In this case they used a call to action, so in that regards they did well.  But the call to action is weak and doesn’t make anyone go out of their way to scan the code.  Simply saying “scan here to view our website!” isn’t all that enticing.  Instead, the call to action should give a reason to scan the code.  For example in this case, they could have said something like “scan to see our current sales!” or some other call to action to provide a good reason to scan the code.

Berkshire1Once I scanned the code I was taken to their website/blog, and here I noticed a couple of things.  First, I saw that it was really a blog about the happenings at the mall; what deals were going on, where the sales were, and whatever other important events were coming up.  From this I began to wonder why they didn’t use that in their call to action, since they probably would have had many more people scanning the code if they knew what they would get out of it.

The next thing I noticed, and a common problem I see with most QR code users, is that their website was a desktop site and not mobile optimized.  This makes using the site very cumbersome and hard to navigate.  Because the desktop site’s main purpose was as a blog, disseminating information about the mall, there is a lot of writing, which makes it ideally awful for reading on a mobile phone.

If you are going to use a QR code you must create a mobile optimized website or you probably shouldn’t even be using a QR code.  You might think this is a big expense, but if you use the correct QR code platform, this can cost almost nothing to create, and will ensure your QR code campaign is actually usable.

Berkshire2 This particular QR code use makes sense for the mall since it is a great way to provide the thousands of smartphone wielding shoppers with relevant information and help the stores in the mall attract customers.  A win-win for all parties involved.

When you decide to use QR codes in your marketing or advertising campaign it is vital that you follow certain best practices, but beyond that you must make sure you do those things well.  Use a QR code, but make it stand out.  Have a call to action, but make sure it is enticing.  Have a mobile optimized site, but make sure it looks good and gives the customer what they want.

Using a QR code can be incredibly valuable, but it isn’t just some throw on tool.  It takes thought, time, and creativity to use this tool well.  A QR code is only as good as the people directing it, so make sure you know how to get the best out of them before you start throwing them on all of your marketing and advertising materials.