QR codes… a note for higher education mobile marketing success

QR codes… best marketing success requires a mobile-friendly landing page

QR codes inspire a fair bit of discussion about whether or not they have any practical value for higher education marketing efforts. Here in the United States, their use so far seems limited but growing slowly. There isn’t a need to rush into this. Smartphones sold in the U.S. don’t come with bar code readers installed and most people have not yet taken time to download an app for that.
That said, limited use of bar codes in higher education marketing is starting. Last week flying back from a visit to Algoma University I opened the May issue of Sky Magazine, with special interest in the ads run by universities to entice business folk seeking professional advancement.
QR codes in 2 higher education magazine ads
Most of the 12 or so ads did not use QR codes. Two did: City University of New York School of Professional Studies and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. And so I used my free Bakodo app to read the QR codes to visit the landing pages for each ad.
One got it right. One got it wrong.
The CUNY QR code took me to a landing page designed especially for people visiting from a mobile device. A few key links, including the names of 4 featured academic programs, were immediately visible and easy to follow. No need for any finger flicking.
The Embry-Riddle QR code lead to a regular website landing page, designed to repeat and reinforce the main design theme and message of the original ad. That’s admirable when taking people to a regular website page. It isn’t so admirable when a visitor has to squint to see the primary heading above text that’s impossible to read. The next step: finger flicking to enlarge the page and sideways scrolling to read the text. Not very mobile friendly.
The bottom line: create a mobile-friendly landing page
The jury is out on whether or not QR codes can increase inquiry response in advertising campaigns.
But from everything we know about website usability, engagement will suffer if your QR code brings people to a landing page that is not mobile-friendly. Make sure that people who arrive at the page from a smartphone can immediately see topics that will continue their interest in 5 seconds or less. Adding a QR code to an ad is easy. Creating an effective landing page is not so easy.
Test these QR codes at Sky Magazine
If you’re interested in QR codes and their landing pages, take this trip. Visit the online edition of Sky Magazine (yes, for this you’ll have to wade through the flip tech version) with your QR code reader in hand and visit the CUNY (p. 135) and Embry-Riddle (p.136) ads. 
Do you agree that one landing page is far more effective than the other?
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