Music Marketing Innovations: Five Mistakes You Should Avoid Using a QR Code

In my last blog, you could read about QR codes and how they can be great, low (and no) cost marketing tools enabling you to provide unique contents for your music fans or business customers. This week I came across a blog post by Matthias Galica, the CEO of ShareSquare, a platform for connecting offline audiences to the brands they love via QR codes. After 18 months of testing, Galica has shared with us what he considers the most crucial mistakes businesses can make when designing and compiling contents for their QR codes. I am posting them in a shortened version here:

Mistake 1: Not Testing the Code

You should always test the proofs with a variety of smart phones and scanning apps before you release a campaign. This is the simplest way to spot scanning problems. For instance, a small placement (less than an inch) will often be too dense to scan if you’ve encoded a longer URL, but using or to automatically generate a short URL QR code is an easy fix.

Mistake 2: Getting Too Fancy With Text

If your goal is to get people to a mobile web experience, you should only ever encode a short URL. Think of the QR code as a physical hyperlink that every barcode scanner should be able to immediately “click.” If your QR code requires the user to do much more than point and scan to arrive at the intended content, you’re probably doing it wrong. So don’t hope that a user will copy/paste on a mobile device.

Mistake 3: Serving up Non-Mobile Pages

Your QR code scans successfully but you’ve pointed the user to a standard desktop website, when 99.9% of QR codes are scanned by a mobile device. Fail. Get acquainted with HTML5 to give your mobile web app that native app feel. You can either hire a developer to build your mobile site or use a non-technical modular CMS (content management system) like Paperlinks if it suits your campaign objectives. This Coca-Cola QR code’s heart is in the right place (the MyCokeRewards program) but the resulting non-mobile website is all but impossible to navigate. In my opinion, this is for advanced users or companies with enough capital. Simply directing a user and therefore potential fan to for Facebook, Bandcamp or iTunes pages is a success.

Mistake 4: Putting QR Codes Where There’s No Data Signal

Placing QR codes in locations without Internet access is a sure way to make your audience upset. Make sure you know where the ads will be, and if possible, run tests to make sure they are visible and will still work. For example, a Red Bull campaign QR code was in a New York City subway, so most likely, no one has been able to decipher the code.

Mistake 5: Not Offering Enough Value

This point is highly subjective but also probably the most important. The proper mindset is to reward the user for scanning your QR code. This “reward,” however, will change depending on what you’re trying to promote. Try to avoid redundancy (a digital copy of your flyer), irrelevance or dullness (your company’s street address). Take the above image. The U.S. Marine Corps. QR code promises a cool experience but instead leads to a wallpaper download and a commercial.

Vice versa, when coupled with a clearly articulated call-to-action near the QR code, we have found the most compelling campaigns tend to offer one or more of the following:

  • Exclusive rich media, videos and photos
  • Exclusive or time-sensitive access
  • Free downloads or swag
  • “Instant Win” contests
  • Special offers, coupons or gifts
  • “Secret” information
  • Deep integration with social media to activate viral loops

For musicians, these more successful strategies would translate to campaigns like offering a download of a free song for a limited time or a remix that is only accessible over a certain time period. Or what other campaigns could you imagine initiating?

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  1. Frances@Moontraxx

    Thank you. Have you used one of these for your business yet? And if so, did you come across any difficulties?

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