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QR codes and video can be a great combination

qr codes and videoThis past weekend my son and I were working on wiring our future home theatre. I decided to put in a LAN cable rather than use a wireless connection for Internet access because it’s always faster and more reliable. Unfortunately, I needed about 50 feet of the cable to reach from our router to where the home theatre system will go. This meant I needed to buy the raw cable and then attach the proper RJ45 end connectors myself (OK, I could have bought a premade cable for way too much money). I bought the supplies I needed and got to work.

Now, a long time ago I built computers, made my own cables, even etched my own circuit boards. But that was a really long time ago, so when I sat down to make my LAN cable I realised I needed to look up how to do it. Then I saw it. A QR code on the crimp tool (used to attach the ends to the cables) that said it would lead me to a “how-to video”. Great!

So I scanned the code with my phone, expecting to land on a video. Instead I ended up on a mobile web page with pictures of the tool I had just purchased. Not one to give up so easily, I scrolled down to find a menu of items and began searching for the how-to video.

Eventually I found it under the “Overview” menu item. And it wasn’t what I expected. It was indeed an overview video, with a how-to spin. It gave a quick look at what the tool could do and ever so briefly mentioned that I needed the wires in a certain order. Well, that’s the information I was looking for in the first place. The “how-to video” didn’t give me enough information at all! I ended up searching on Google for a diagram of the proper connection I needed to make.

Cable finally made, I started to think about the experience and how the company really missed a chance to make great use of the QR code.

Give them what they expect

Technically, the note under the QR code says “Scan for a how-to video, warranty information and to access our mobile site.” So even though I was expecting a how-to video, it sent me to their mobile site and specifically to the page for the product I was looking at. Now that isn’t a horrible thing, but it isn’t what I was expecting given that the how-to video was mentioned first.

But I think that the marketing team who designed the tool’s packaging thought people would scan the QR code before buying it. Then they’d end up on a page with a few more pictures, and then a menu of items with more information on the tool, including the overview video (which again wasn’t a detailed how-to video). The web page and the self-promotion in the overview video would help the consumer make a purchase decision – hopefully to buy the tool.

As I said, that isn’t a horrible thing since it went directly to the product page (that isn’t always the case!), but the video should have been more prominent. I would argue that anyone who bothers to scan the QR code is really looking to see the tool in action rather than see a list of specifications already listed on the packaging. And that would hold true before and after someone bought the tool.

If you plan to use QR codes on products, or printed marketing, think about what the consumer wants and expects to see rather than what you want to show them. The information should be useful and not promotional (at least not all promotional).

Use the opportunity

Not everyone will scan a QR code. A lot of people don’t know what they are, and those that do realise they have to get their phone out, find the QR code reader app, then try and scan the code (which for some reason is always harder than it should be, usually due to bad packaging). All of that takes time. In a world of short attention spans, and a go-go-go lifestyle, a scan of your code means the person is seriously interested in the product. Take that opportunity to show them everything you can about it, because there may be no sales people to do it for you.

Going back to my example, the company could have had the overview video plus two other videos showing how to specifically wire the two different types of wires the tool supports. The QR code then could lead to a playlist rather than a video, where the person interested can click on what they need to see. At the end of all the videos there could be a link to the mobile website and warranty information, both listed on the packaging below the QR code.

There are probably other videos they could have had too, including best practices for installing cable or for stripping wires, or anything related to their product line of cabling tools. I realise it isn’t the most exciting subject for many, but if it’s something you need to do, then you want all the information you can get.

If you’re creating and hosting product videos on your website, QR codes are a great way to get interested buyers or owners to your website. Once you’ve got them there, make the most of what you’ve got to offer by providing videos that they will find useful rather than promotional materials.

Oliver Burt

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