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RISMEDIA, July 20, 2011—(EMC)—There is no doubt that you see QR codes everywhere these days—in ads, magazines, posters, etc. They offer exciting opportunities for delivering information quickly to people that are mobile. They also provide a quick and easy way to do more with a single marketing channel.

But before jumping in, it’s important to consider this: QR codes are no different than other direct marketing tools in that you must build a strategy, tactics and plan for testing, tracking and measuring results. Start with a strategy that answers the question, “What do I want to accomplish and how do I get there?”

Who do you wish to target with a QR code application? Is the audience you’re targeting more or less likely to have access to a smartphone with a QR code reader? If they’re more likely, are they likely to respond? What’s the best way to reach your audience and what potential issues might they have with QR codes? Survey your audience to understand how they want to receive information.

What’s the intended purpose of your QR code application? There are many possibilities; the only way to ensure success is to start with a solid plan. Where do you want to take your customer or prospect? What’s the action you want to be taken? Do you intend to use QR codes to enhance your company’s customer service? Provide new or time-sensitive information? Are you trying to engage your customers or prospects with a video or some other media? Are you looking to build social media interaction?

As with other direct marketing tools, there are many behind-the-scenes considerations for QR codes. Is the barcode large enough? QR codes can be various sizes and used in a number of places, but keep in mind that some older mobile phones don’t focus as well on smaller objects.

Is there enough white space? There are specific requirements regarding white space that must be followed. Specifically, QR codes have three positioning elements and an alignment element. This is where an expert will be able to help ensure your QR code is up to par.

Is the QR code low density? QR codes hold thousands of alphanumeric characters. The less dense the code, the more visually appealing it is. It also will fit into smaller spaces and is more easily scanable.

Is the website that the QR code links to formatted for mobile display? Can you ensure proper security for data collection? Do you know what platforms to use and which to avoid? Consult with an expert who’s experienced or if you want to go it alone, research and use reputable online tools.

Some excited marketers mistakenly begin implementing QR codes without regard to tracking and measuring results. As with other direct marketing programs, the only way to know if your goals are being met is to track everything. There are tools related to QR codes that can be used to determine if the program is working or needs to be refined.

QR codes are exciting and the possibilities endless. Do the proper planning to ensure that you can realize return on marketing investment each time you use them.

Karen Keenan is director of marketing at Associates International, an integrated marketing services provider. Reach Karen at