3 min read

QR Codes Don't Work (But Here's How They Can)

Last week, I attended the Marketers Business Development Roundtable in New York. The goal of the event was to:

…foster informative discussions among marketing professionals as well as brainstorm new ideas to help assist their clients with their revenue producing initiatives.

It was an interesting and fun event, especially to hear how other businesses are tackling problems we are all facing today.

We talked about QR Codes and QR Code Generators, and their effectiveness / relevance for marketing folks. Some folks thought they worked really well and others didn’t.

I haven not had much luck with QR Codes and that might be due to their “newness” as a technology.

In theory, it’s a great idea – Simply point your camera on your phone to a QR Code, snap a picture, and you are magically whipped over to a landing page providing additional details and a possible gift for your patronage.

In practice, not so much so.

From a user’s perspective, think about the amount of effort and time it takes to simply snap a picture of a QR Code:

  1. See QR Code
  2. Take out phone
  3. Unlock phone
  4. Find QR Code app
  5. Open QR Code app
  6. Align QR Code with camera
  7. Snap picture
  8. Are you online?

If you are on the subway or are walking, you’ll have to add in a few steps to steady yourself / stop. So, let’s say that whole process takes 20 seconds. (I just ran through the steps above while sitting at my desk and it took me 22 seconds.)

If you are at a conference, it’s probably a little quicker since you might have your phone out and QR Code Reader ready to capture QR Codes plastered on booths and walls.

I think this is closer to our (the marketing folks) perception of QR Code use. Your phone is ready and the app is likely open. Just point and click and receive. Done.

But, have you been to a conference lately? Are there QR Codes littering the exhibit hall? If there are, do you see many attendees / exhibitors snapping pictures?

For me, the answers to the above are: Yes (big show in December, smaller shows in January, February); Yes and no (Yes at the big show, no at the smaller shows); No.

I had a Twitter chat with Barry Hott (@binghott) after getting back from the big show:



It will take a bit more from marketing folks and users alike to accept QR Codes as valuable tools before they really take off. But I think a big push would be from the camera / phone manufacturers. I mean, can you imagine how much easier it would be if the camera on the iPhone was also a QR Code reader?

I want these to work because they make sense.

But right now, they don’t.


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