Jury's Still Out On QR Codes

Anna Webster, September 21, 2011

You've seen them everywhere: In glossy magazines, plastered on the walls of a subway car, even in unexpected places. Laura Lee Jones, CEO of Lion Share Marketing, says she spotted one covering the back of a golf cart.

QR or "quick response" codes are the little black and white patterned squares (a 2D bar code) which can be scanned by a smartphone and link to a web page. And lately, they are shooting into the marketing world like fireworks on the fourth of July.

QR codes are a way to connect a print campaign with an online campaign, while tracking the results. A URL-shortener can shrink hyperlinks used to create the code, and the unique URL can then be tracked using analytics. According to ScanLife's 2010 Trend Report, mobile bar code scanning grew 1,600% in 2010.

QR codes are undeniably quirky and can spark curiosity – but are they effective marketing tools? At the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development Annual conference in Phoenix last week, I attended a round table luncheon addressing the topic. Not everyone expressed confidence about this emerging marketing tool.

"All my clients want me to slap a QR code on a campaign, like a logo" said Carson Kraig designer/production manager at Obrien Marketing. "I'm skeptical if this is really working."

Anna Webster Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Anna Webster, Online Content Coordinator for HealthLeaders Media, can be reached at awebster@hcpro.com.
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