10 QR Code Best Practices in 2021

Last updated:   October 13, 2021

While QR codes are a great marketing tools to a point that they sell themselves, you still need to follow guidelines to ensure that they are indeed effective. Because at the end of the day, they are just simple images of pixels inside a square.

By themselves, they do not get any attention.

What can you do to get them recognized and scanned right away? Below are the QR code best practices you should follow to make your a successful QR marketing implementation!

Related: What is a QR code and how does it work? The Beginner's Ultimate Guide!

1. Only implement the action that you’re promoting in the QR code

qr code best practices

Do not add any unnecessary extras on your QR code’s landing page. If you have a call-to-action in your QR code that says "Download PDF" or “scan to watch a video,” then lead them to a video or a PDF document and nothing else. 

Do not distract your scanners and don’t gather too much data. Make the user-experience short, brief, and concise, and don’t waste their time. Automate what you can automate. 

Make a unique code for every media you’re advertising:

  • A magazine ad: 1 code
  • Newspaper ad: 1 code
  • Flyer: 1 code
  • A sign outside a store: 1 code     

Related: QR code types: 15 primary QR solutions and their functions                                                                                               

2.  Add a Call-to-Action (CTA)

call to action qr code best practice

Adding a call to action in your QR code is one of the best practices you should never forget.

With the various ways a QR code can function, there is no way for a person to recognize what yours will do. So, don’t just put a QR code without any context. Instead, put in a call-to-action to give an idea of what it will do. 

Most people don’t bother to try when they don’t know what a QR code does. They fear that it will just waste their time.

However, if you put in a call-to-action (CTA) people get to know if they are interested in what you have to offer and make the conscious decision of scanning it.

Some great call-to-action lines include “scan to know more”, “scan to receive a surprise”, and “scan to play a game”. It should urge them what to do and tell them what to expect.

Related: Successful QR code campaigns and how did they do it

3.  Optimize your landing page for smartphone users

qr code for mobile use

Literally all of the people who are going to scan a QR code are going to use their smartphone. Nobody will dare use a device that is capable of comfortably running a desktop site.

Therefore, always link your QR codes to the mobile version of websites.

Related: How to create a QR code web page in 5 steps!

4.  Add your image or logo of your brand

qr code with logo

One of the best practices when making your QR code is actually making the code a part of your overall brand and not just have it as a creative design.

A customized QR code with an added logo of your brand gives your customers a sense of security and confidence that it’s a legitimate QR code and not a spammy one.

Branded QR code leaves an impression and garners a higher conversion rate, which results in getting 80% more scans than the traditional black and white colors. 

4.  Consider the right sizing of your QR code

qr code size best practice

Your QR code won’t be able to perform its purpose if it doesn’t get seen. This is where size gets in the picture. Don’t make it too small so as to be recognizable by an audience.

Also, if it is too small to be recognized by a smartphone camera, it would be the same as being completely useless. 

Related: QR code size: What is the correct QR code dimension?

5.  Consider the environment setting

qr code placement

When putting a QR code, consider whether or not the environment is conducive for its consumption. Is there an internet connection?

Are the people present usually have time or are they in a hurry? Can they sit or do they have to stand?

A QR code is only as good as how it can be consumed. If people who get access to it are not in an environment to be able to conveniently scan them, it won’t get the attention it deserves.

This is one of the more crucial QR code best practices.

6.  Provide a Purpose

What makes QR codes sell is the purpose they provide. They make things more convenient and accessible. Stay true to that purpose by providing QR codes that link to quality content and functionality.

Never make a QR code perform mediocrely. Don’t direct to dull written content or anything without value. Instead, give the best experience to your scanners so that they are left coming back for more.

7.  Think about the proper placement

qr code placement

It is easy to take QR codes for granted because of their flexibility. However, you should never underestimate the importance of proper placement. Put them where they can be seen, scanned properly, and appreciated.

You tend to find QR codes pressed against the corners of packaging and magazines. If it gives the impression that they are being hidden, it is likely not going to capture the interest of your audience.

8.  Track Progress

qr code tracking best practice

You will never know if your QR code marketing campaign is succeeding or failing if you don’t track your progress.

This will give you an insight into the rate of performance, allowing you to make necessary changes or improve on future initiatives.

With tracking, you are able to ensure consistent improvement and effectiveness of your campaigns. So, never forget this important QR code best practices.

Related: How to set-up QR Code Tracking: A step-by-step guide

9.  Always Use Dynamic QR Codes

use dynamic qr code

With two types of QR codes, it is easy to get torn between the two. While static ones are usually enough for certain tasks, if you can, always opt for the dynamic option.

You are able to update data and perform tracking. This helps you grow and expand your campaigns by consistently improving as well as doesn’t render old QR codes obsolete by allowing them to be updated.

Related: What is a Dynamic QR code: Definition, Video, Use-Cases

10.  Consider the Material

qr code material

Make sure that the material you put your QR codes on doesn't alter its look. That includes being non-porous, excessively shiny, and the likes and see to it that it is placed on a flat surface. 

While QR codes may be resilient and reliable due to their error correction feature, with enough imperfections, a QR code can become unreadable.

11.  Test QR Codes Beforehand

qr code test

Technology has a tendency to fail unexpectedly. While it may be a one to one thousand chance of happening, there is still the possibility.

As a result, it is always better to be certain that your QR code will function as it is intended by testing it before mass production and distribution.

The least you want to happen is learning that your QR codes don’t work after all the effort you have made.

Related: QR code test: How to test if your QR code works

5 Examples of QR Code Campaigns

A QR code marketing campaign entails having a start to finish plan along with following QR code best practices.

It ensures to get your audience hooked and then leaves them anticipating for more. It may sound complicated and tedious, but it really isn’t.

If you don’t know how to come up with one, take a look at these QR code campaigns to get an idea on how to do yours.

1.  Heinz Environment-Friendly Packaging

qr code best marketing practices

The leading ketchup maker in the US added QR codes on their bottles that when scanned, will direct people to a mobile contest.

It is a series of questions about sustainability as the company promotes the new environmentally friendly bottles they are using. It led to a total of 1 million scans throughout the entire duration of the campaign.

Related: How to use QR codes for Enterprise and Scale up your marketing opportunity

2.    Verizon Referral Program 

qr code marketing

On their stores, Verizon placed QR codes and urged customers to scan them and then share them on their social media platforms.

If someone scans the QR code of a sharer and a purchase is made through it, they too will receive a free phone.

3.  Diesel’s Facebook Liking Campaign

qr code advertising

In 2011, the clothing brand Diesel laid out QR codes around their stores. When scanned, it brought customers to the Facebook page of the brand where they are urged to hit like.

It extensively grew the social media page of Diesel as people were easily reminded to show support to a brand that they love.

4.  L’Oréal Selling Campaign

In a bid to urge people to shop on the L’Oreal website, the brand placed QR codes in New York City taxis. With the scan of an image, they can browse and shop with ease while taking their ride.

The program was so effective in 2012 that it resulted in a total of 80% unique downloads of the L’Oreal app.

5.  Kellogg’s Cereal Promotion

Adding a little twist to their cereal boxes, Kellogg’s added a QR code at the back. When scanned, it directed people to one of 13 videos depending on the time of the day that the scan was made.

It engaged consumers to a point that it kept them coming back for more.

Remember: The Importance of a Running a QR Code Test

qr code testing

Before you make a run to your QR code generator and begin your revolutionary QR code marketing campaign, there is one thing that you should always remember. That is the importance of testing your QR code.

In the best QR code practices, one of the tips is to test your QR code beforehand. The purpose is to ensure that you have a fully functional QR code before you mass-produce and distribute it.

So that you don’t end up doing all the effort and spending the money only to have a non-functioning or unreliable QR code.

However, spotting a problematic QR code is much more complicated than you would think. A single scan won’t tell you anything conclusive.

It doesn’t mean that it worked the first time around, it will continue to do so. What you would want to do is scan it a couple more times from different angles.

Only when it has consistently worked should you take it as a good sign.

The goal of your QR code is to provide convenience to your consumers. If it takes them a lot of trials just to consume your content, you are defeating the purpose of using QR codes in the first place.

To make things worse, a faulty QR code will decrease your credibility. People will now tend to trust your campaigns even less, scanning them less frequently in the end.

Related: QR code scanning problems and how to fix it

Are QR Codes Difficult to Use? 

While there may be quite a lot of things to keep in mind about QR codes, it doesn’t mean that it is difficult to use. Instead, they are just small details to boost the efficiency of your marketing campaigns.

That paired with the flexibility of the programs you can implement, QR codes deliver a lot of options without a steep learning curve.

So, QR codes are not difficult to use. Instead, you just have a lot of options to further expand your campaigns and implementations if you do want to go the extra mile.

Related: 7 Benefits of QR Codes in business and marketing