Should Your Business Cards Feature a QR Code?

The Quick Response code is a 2-dimensional barcode that was created by a Japanese automotive components manufacturer. High-speed scanners can obtain a wealth of information from individual QR codes, which can store almost 3 kilobytes of information in a number of formats, making this technology far more flexible than the 1-dimensional barcode that preceded it. It was originally designed to facilitate the tracking of vehicles and components as they pass from one manufacturing stage to the next but is now used for many different purposes in a wide variety of industries. In this article, we are going to look at QR codes from a local perspective and ask the question: should business cards in Perth feature a QR code or has this technological trend already run its course?


Do You Really Need a QR Code on Your Business Cards?

QR codes have been used as a promotional tool by numerous businesses in recent years but their effectiveness has been called into question by marketing experts for the following reasons:

  • Popular Opinion – Surveys have shown that two-thirds of the people who know what QR codes are believe them to be a waste of time. If we take into consideration the fact that around a third of the general population don’t even know what they are, we can calculate the percentage of business card recipients who are likely to understand what a QR code is and actually use it: 22%. With such a small potential audience, it is not surprising that many are beginning to question the usefulness of these matrix barcodes as far as business cards are concerned.
  • Accessibility – Another point to consider when deciding whether to include a QR code in your business card design is that many people do not actually have a QR code scanner app installed on their smartphone. All the popular smartphone operating systems have apps available but no native scanning capability, which means that users have to make the effort to download and install an app specifically for this purpose. Unfortunately for those who wish to use QR codes as a marketing tool, many smartphone users simply don’t bother.
  • Space – In order to be easily scanned, a printed QR code should be around 3.5 centimetres by 3.5 centimetres. Standard business cards are roughly 9 x 5 centimetres so a QR code could take up more than a quarter of the available space on your card. For this reason alone, many executives in Perth and across the globe have been reluctant to use QR codes on their business cards from the very start. Once their effectiveness was called into question, this reluctance naturally grew and became more widespread.
  • Aesthetics – There is no getting around the fact that QR codes are visually unappealing as far as the majority of people are concerned. Including one on your business card is certainly not going to make it more visually appealing to recipients and if you have to squash up the rest of the information on the card to make room for the code, the overall effect could be disastrous from a design/layout perspective.
  • Corporate Image – The widespread misuse of QR codes in marketing campaigns over the last few years has had the unfortunate knock-on effect of turning what could be a genuinely useful promotional tool into something of a joke in many business circles. If the potential recipients of your business cards in Perth are likely to view a QR code with suspicion or even derision, it may be better the shelve the idea for the time being. It is, of course, imperative to avoid the possibility of damaging your corporate image when designing new business cards: their whole purpose is to encourage future enquiries from potential customers and business partners.
  • No Way to Measure Effectiveness – One thing that bothers a lot of people who may otherwise have opted to include a QR code on their business cards is the fact that it is difficult to measure their effectiveness. When somebody scans a QR code, data is transferred to their smartphone from the code, but no data is passed the other way. What this means is that there is no real way to gauge how effective they are as a marketing tool. While it is possible to embed a website address in a QR code and then keep track of the number of visitors to that particular URL, the majority of executives would rather simply print that URL on their card, due to the other considerations we have already covered.

The Arguments for Using QR Codes

Having read through the reasons why you might not want to include a QR code in your business card design, you may have already written them off as a fad or a gimmick but not all businesses and industries have dismissed them as useless so it is worth taking a moment to consider whether your target audience are among those who are likely to use them or not. If, for example, your company is involved in a niche industry where QR codes are widely used, you will have a much stronger motive to use them on your own cards than if you work in an industry where they are rarely seen. Other reasons you may wish to use them are listed below

  • Information on Products and Services – If you want to provide business card recipients with an easy way to obtain basic information on the products or services you provide, a QR code could still prove to be an effective marketing tool.
  • People Often Lose Business Cards – Busy executives often lose some of the cards they are presented with but if they have already scanned the QR code on your card, this will not matter.

Ultimately, your decision will be influenced by personal preferences and trends in your particular market sector but whatever you decide to do, Greenlea Print will be more than happy to help you create the perfect business card for your needs.