Do QR codes work in email marketing?

A client recently emailed me the following question:

“These square bar codes are popping up everywhere. What are they, how do I get one, and should I put one on my online marketing and in my email newsletter?”

QR 101

First, in case you don’t already know, QR stands for Quick Response and is a 2D bar code that can only be read by scanning software on a SMART camera phone. (Think iPhone and Android…don’t bother with Blackberry as their QR app doesn’t work properly.) To make it work you need to download an app to scan the codes; search “QR Scanner” in the iTunes or Android app store.

QR codes are a brilliant addition to print media. They are a great way to drive offline customers to your website, or to give them information they can read, or store in their phones . 


What information should I include in a QR code?

Basically, any message you want this would be of value for your readers. Here are three examples:

  • Contact info (like what is on your business card)
  • Event info (date, time, location, etc.)
  • Product information

How to create a QR code

There are plenty of sites that will create a QR code for you, just search “Create a QR code”; here are my two favorites:

1) Want to be a walking advertisement for your business? Use this site to have a QR code printed on a T-shirt (or the back of a business card): Visit

2) For office and/or brick & mortar locations, create a Google Places account and get one that looks like this:

Put this on the back of your business card, or print it as a poster and put it in your window.

So, back to the original question:

Should I put a QR code in my Internet marketing materials?

I wouldn’t bother. In my humble opinion, QR codes are perfect for print media but text and/or a clickable link is more practical, efficient, and understandable. Think about it, who is going to shoot a smart phone at a computer screen?