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Jury's Still Out On QR Codes

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, 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."

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6 comments on "Jury's Still Out On QR Codes"


Mike Losee (9/23/2011 at 4:09 PM)
Great article and very topical points. I hosted a roundtable at SHSMD on Mobile marketing and the QR code issues of relevancy and knowing your audience were key parts of the discussion. It's great to see the SHSMD attendees emphasize that you simply can't "QR code just for the sake of QR coding". Hopefully, all of the C-suites will agree!

Zach (9/22/2011 at 2:59 PM)
Interesting article - QR codes are definitely growing in use. However, in order for them to be effective, you have to deliver quality content. Whether you are marketing your brand with QR codes, SMS short codes, or StarStar Numbers, you need to deliver your customers something valuable. Thanks for the article!

Zach (9/22/2011 at 2:53 PM)
Interesting article - QR codes are definitely growing in use. However, in order for them to be effective, quality content must be delivered. Whether you are promoting your brand with QR codes, sms short codes, or StarStar Numbers, you need to deliver something of value to your customers. Thanks for the article!