Whether you love them, hate them, use them or not the numbers are in and what started slow is becoming a major force in your marketing toolbox.

QR codes, that ugly little square you see on so many posters, signs, window stickers and even on those techie guy’s business cards, are beginning to move to the front of the pack of ways to engage people from print media to digital.

According to one of the most popular code activation platforms, ScanLife, its user base expanded to 6 million who snapped a code in Q2 2013. On average, a user snapped three times a month, showing an increase of 22% over the year-ago period. About 4 million people were new to scanning and snapped for the first time in the quarter. Among the more interesting developments is the appearance of tablet scanning, which grew about 1300% since last year.

By far the biggest hurdle we face when trying to help customers embrace the value of QR codes is the age old, “well my demographic is to old, and simply won’t use that.” Granted, if you are selling denture cream, you may want to invest your time elsewhere, but these little squares are for a much larger demographic then the ones you may be thinking. The scanning sweet spot is proving to be far more diverse now than in years past with the 35-44 year old segment quickly jumping to the front of the line.

But like any good marketing tool, the how is as (or more) important then the what. So, what is it that is getting people to scan? Video… Video remains the most popular “value” delivered back to a user from these activation programs followed by app downloads and product information.

Shopping at your local big box supercenter will show you that retailers are cashing in on the explosion of new devices that are camera (and therefore QR code) enabled. From scan here to watch a video how simple it is to build this bike, to scan here to learn how to use these pans to cook, retailers are finding new ways to deliver real value to customers and it is working.

So, what do you do now? Simple, start with what you can deliver and think beyond just the homepage of your website. What kind of video can you deliver, or a data sheet or a… (fill in the blank here). Once you have an idea for something that will provide more value than a webpage or a social media site, then move to the build it phase.

Build the deliverable, but also build the ways to interact with it. Stickers for windows, posters, brochures, pass along cards, whatever you can think to put in the hands of your consumers that will entice them to get to scanning.

QR Codes have had a slow start, but the idea has always been solid. Now that devices are getting cheaper, smaller and more prolific, the time has come to put them to work for your company.

By, Christian Riddell

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