Are qr codes dead

By now we have all seen them, odd, pixelated squares that plead “Scan Me and I’ll do something cool!” Truth is, they rarely do anything cool, considering the effort.

Many marketers around the country would argue that QR codes (short for quick response) are considered dead for marketing purposes. But I am still seeing quite a few around here in Door County. Which is why I was compelled to write about this. If you are looking to provide a cool mobile experience and engage your customers, there may be a better way. Let’s explore.

Reasons QR codes are not effective:

1. Lame user experience – Often, we see QR codes on rack cards, business cards, table-top cards or even signage at the register. Scanning often takes us to a website that isn’t even mobile optimized. If I’m in your store ready to purchase, why should I now go to your website? Are you directing me to exclusive coupons, an online product demo? Calendar of events? Usually not, usually they just direct you to the home page and there is no connection to the original call to action. To me this is a lost opportunity.

2. One way communication – Even though you may be able to see how many times your code was scanned, you really don’t know who scanned it and will not be able to communicate back with that person in the future.  In the world of content marketing, building your marketing list is huge. That list can be both email or mobile numbers if you have the right system in place.

3. Technology issues – QR scanner apps take up precious space on your device. I took mine off over a year ago for that very reason. Often times QR campaigns are in areas that do not have wifi, like many places in Door County. It is also cumbersome, first you have to download the qr code reader app, wait for it to load then monkey around lining up the qr code with your camera phone so you can snap it. Who does that?

4. Design issues – QR code designs take up space on your marketing collateral. We all are familiar with the challenge of trying to get our message out with the least amount of words/images possible to fit in the ad space or business card, referred to as word or design economy. Text and images have to be compelling and calls to action need to clear  with specific goals to drive specific results. The qr code is usually just not dynamic enough to justify the word and design economy used.

A better way to ignite a cool mobile experience and engage your customers:

1. SMS Marketing – Text marketing can be very effective way to engage your customers and prospects, move people to action and start building your mobile marketing list. Short codes make it very easy to type in a 5 digit number and get a response back. It works with both smart phones and regular cell phones. Calls to action can be simple and compelling and users can receive immediate rewards for opting in. Example: Text “mystore” to 90210 to join our mobile VIP list and receive %15 off your next purchase. Now, as people are texting into your campaign, your mobile marketing list is growing. With over 90% of text messages being read within the first hour, text is a great way to reach people where they are.

2. Text to mobile splash page – Taking it a step further, texting  to a mobile splash page or mobile-card can deliver a dynamic mobile experience to delight the end users. Splash pages are totally customizable and can feature video, images, maps to your business, contact info, links to all your social media and blog, links to exclusive coupons and so much more.


  • A restaurant owner uses a 60 second video discussing the dinner specials offered during the week and even suggest wine parings. Then uses a call to action such as free glass of wine with entree to drive people to the restaurant.
  • A real estate agent uses text on the for sale sign which takes user to a video of the interior of the home, gallery, full specs of the home and any other compelling information that would help the sale. Now, the agent has a way to follow up with that prospect.
  • Non-profits – being able to call for volunteers, raise money, send thank you’s and news updates.
  • A fitness coach using it to send out motivational messages and a exercise of the day demo via video.

All these are sent right to the device people have with them nearly 99% of the time.

There are many possibilities, and the technology is simple and something people are very familiar with.

Interested in learning more about starting your own text marketing campaign? I would love to help you!

Call or Text: (920) 724-1595