Small Business Marketing News

Why Businesses Aren't Making The Most Of QR Codes

Written by Tim Morral
Published: 3/29/2012

Many companies and small businesses are failing to make the best use of QR (Quick Response) codes in their marketing campaigns.

Quick Response (QR) codes have become an increasingly common element of the marketing and retail signs. They usually appear as a square pixilation and enable smartphone-equipped consumers to quickly access value-added brand content.

QR Code Use in Small Business

But according to Scott Wilson, founder and CEO of, a Burlington, Ont.-based internet marketing and SEO firm, many companies aren't using QR codes properly -- and as a result, they're leaving significant amounts of marketing ROI on the table.

"QR codes used the right way can be a fantastic marketing tool," says Wilson. "Wouldn't it be great to be able to track your web traffic directly back to that beer coaster in the restaurant or the coupon you mass mailed to thousands of homes? That's vital information for any marketer. The problem is that most companies are missing these marketing opportunities because of basic mistakes."

Wilson says there are at least three common mistakes businesses make when using QR codes in marketing:

  • Non-Monitored Codes. Codes produced by online generators are easily misread as direct traffic to a website by Google Analytics. So instead, businesses should send QR traffic to a unique URL, allowing Google's tracking software to more accurately monitor QR traffic and redirect it to the user's intended location.
  • Complicated or Muddled Codes. Long URLs translate into complicated QR codes that make it difficult for consumers to scan quickly. By maintaining short URLs, you can make your QR codes simpler and easier to scan.
  • Third-Party URLs. Many businesses use URL-shortening services like for the locations they attach to QR codes. The problem is that third-party URLs are sometimes vulnerable to glitches. Businesses should host QR code URLs on their own domain to minimize errors and retain greater control over problem-solving.

"After going to the expense of launching major marketing campaigns, it's important to be able to trace exactly what's generating consumer traffic and what isn't," Wilson says. "QR codes can do that for you -- but if they're used incorrectly, they're really just an interesting-looking design in a little black and white box."

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