QR marketing

QR codes are great, aren't they?

I'm not going to go in the the technical aspects here, I have done that before, but more about actually using them.

We see them on everything, from shop windows to packets of crisps.

But there are some guidelines that are worth considering if you are planning on playing with QR codes. This is very much a top level explanation, and as I say not very technically.,

Starting with what is a QR code?

It is simply a standard way to represent data in a machine readable format that can be printed or displayed on a screen, and these days almost any phone with a camera can "read" them.

Why use them?

Well, the main reason is to allow people to get to a web site, that is pretty much the main "marketing" use of QR codes.

There are a load of more technical reasons to use them, tracking products and deliveries and all sorts, even COVID related stuff, but from a marketing point of view it is pretty much "a web site" without the typing, and more importantly the "mistyping" of some URL.

Of course someone could put a sticker over your QR with another one, how would people know until they try it?

Silly graphics in them?

One of the annoying things from a technical point of view is people putting silly images and graphics in the middle, or changing them to be round dots or some such. They are designed to tolerate a lot of errors, so these generally work, but they are not close to being standard. Also they are meant to have a 4 unit white border which is often reduced to 1 unit or not at all. Again, people "get away with it", but it is not right. Properly they are a grid of black or white squares with a 4 unit white border.

But what to put in them?

This is where it gets fun - you typically put a web site, a URL, and that is it.

Start it properly HTTP:// or better HTTPS:// though again you "get away" with just WWW.

But there is more to it!

  1. There is no point putting a silly long URL with loads of extra query fields, really, that makes for a dense QR code which may be harder to read. Don't do https://www.amazon.co.uk/Faikin-Alternative-Daikin-WiFi-controller/dp/B0C2ZYXNYQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=216EE7WGMZ221&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.XweYjNYnMX2FDmEgANqtjLiG7EHQIhpAHquJL8qCQ74Nr4YyT0zmkbk9467lCnQEb862FHm0WxqOGwExyaAH8JP42vCPVbInuwGvXc5MduR3JtainfYF4sz3oXKDZrVvA81M5J9-Ro5CIDRtqDictRG7E_GGusC-wTDynho5VPmjb4R-00iqmk26qH04W9nRkcYdt7pvh2HMGyh53iA4pPdQcVPNx2Q6B2_T2DDDULQ.qMn3ZtO7J7xmPu_bSUUilYAZ64X_8IK_MAJgIaqpQM0&dib_tag=se&keywords=faikin&qid=1708887615&sprefix=faikin%2Caps%2C81&sr=8-1
  2. You can use some sort of URL shortening thing, but that means on phones the preview shows some URL shortening domain and so no way to know it is "genuine". Don't do http://tinyurl.com/yrescvrw

I have seen both extremes!

The middle ground is using your proper domain name, and then a short additional path. This can make a compact URL, and show your domain as the preview for the link on phones, but still get to where you want. You can also make it all upper case which actually makes the QR code less dense. E.g. HTTPS://FAIKIN.REVK.UK

Using your actual domain means you control it and are not subject to some third party, and also the preview on a QR code on the phone shows your domain, not tinyurl.com.

I have actually seen this for some locals shops, with QR codes, that are via some site, and worked when printed, but when I scanned came up with "your free trial is over, choose a package for your QR link" or some such. Totally useless for the shops in question, when just a QR to their own website (which they have) would have worked fine.

For comparison, the above URL examples as QR codes.

1. Long URL (harder to scan)

2. Short URL (no obvious preview before following link)

3. Proper URL (clear preview and easy to scan)

4. Make it a URL!

The above is an example of a dual purpose QR. Scanned, it goes to the product site, but it includes a serial number, so when we scan it on a delivery note, etc, the URL part is ignored and the serial number is read in to to document. Customers expect a QR to be a URL, so why not use that fact.

And don't forget - check it works!

Having made the QR code, check it, pretend to be a customer/user.

  • Check what the preview shows on your phone
  • Check the link goes where you expect
(Yes, I ballsed that step up making this page the first time, thanks for letting me know)


  1. Number 3 tries to go to "FAIKIN", not a proper URL.

  2. D'Oh, well spotted, better now - and no bigger, which was my point.


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