QR Code Savvy: Do’s and Don’t’s

Do you have a love/hate relationship with QR codes like I do? I couldn’t figure out why I felt that way until I read a recent article from Entrepreneur Magazine about Ann Handley’s unfulfilled experience with a QR code on a pizza box. It made me realize that I don’t like them when people use them incorrectly; yet, I love them when they are used creatively and correctly.

Also, did you know 20M Americans scanned a QR code from Aug-Oct 2011? Of those, 59.4% scanned them while at home, according to comScore. And in another report from comScore, more than 1 in 3 have a household income $100K or higher.

Ready to get QR savvy? Here’s a list of 7 Do’s and 7 Don’ts:


  1. Do place your QR codes on postcards, business cards, window decals, brochures – IF, and only IF they take the engagement online to something of value to the end user.
  2. Do offer discounts using QR codes.
  3. Do tell users up front what is in it for them so they will want to scan your QR code. Being mysterious = breakage and not in your favor.
  4. Do try and capture my basic information: email.
  5. Do only having ONE QR code on your material.
  6. Do know your audience. Not everyone is tech savvy, so you may need to spell out what the code is, how to read it, and recommend a QR scanner they can download on their mobile.
  7. Do keep it simple, enticing and poignant. Having a QR code to make your offer look cool is not enticing.


  1. Do not put a QR code on a billboard. This = useless use of a QR code.
  2. Do not have a QR code link to a non-mobile friendly website. :(
  3. Do not have a QR code link to a site that is going to ask me for a slew of information. I am filling this out on my phone. Do you know how hard it is to type in my email address on my phone let alone, my address, phone number, city, state, etc?? Make it EASY on me!!
  4. Do not put multiple QR codes on collateral or use multiple calls-to-action with a QR code. The call to action should be “scan for x” – that’s it. ‘X’ should be one thing.
  5. Do not use a QR code to link to your Facebook page/Twitter account/etc unless there is a discount of some sort attached to that landing page. Otherwise it’s a LAME excuse for a QR code.
  6. Don’t assume I know what a QR code is or how to scan it.
  7. Don’t treat the code as a cool way to put a link on a piece of collateral. Make it meaningful to the end user.
QR Code Tattoo  QR Code haircut
And I purposely left out the QR code tattoo on the “don’t” list because I figure you know better.

What about you? Any do’s or don’ts you’d like to add to the list? Add ’em below in the comments.

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.