When you place QR codes in your advertising, it's important to realize almost every single person will scan it using a smartphone. If the landing page isn't mobile friendly, well... that kind of misses the whole point! That said, there is one situation where it makes sense to run a QR code campaign with a regular landing page.
Think of the ad channels where you might use a QR code: magazine ads, brochures, public signage and "offline" display ads, etc. For these, the incremental cost to include a QR code is almost zero. During the graphic design, it's usually not too much trouble to work it into the creative's layout.
But crafting a mobile friendly landing page that works across a wide range of handset models can add thousands of dollars to the budget. That is a big enough portion of the available ad spend that marketers may not want to do so frivolously.
But you can eliminate the risk through testing. Create the ad with a QR code that points to a plain, non-mobile-friendly web page. Use a unique URL, or place in a special tracking code, so you can easily segment out QR-code-scanning events in the website analytics. As said, this will essentially cost nothing. But it allows the marketer to easily measure how much traffic the QR code is generating, and its quality.
With a little care in choosing the URL, the marketer can deploy a mobile site at any time after it is known to be worthwhile. In this way, the whole QR code effort can only pay for itself.
Following The Numbers
Here's an example. You write a paragraph or more of sales copy, then ask your webmaster to create a new page with this content, placing it at www.example.com/qrtest1.html (where example.com is your company website). It doesn't matter so much what is on this page, so long as you can track its visitors in your analytics. Importantly, make sure you don't link to this page elsewhere on the site, for example in the sitemap: ideally the only way anyone will be able to find this URL is by scanning the QR code.
Then you deploy the ad creative with a QR code. Say it's a half-page ad in a monthly magazine. Over the course of the month, you only get 10 page views. Not a good response!
Now you try a different tack: a prominent QR code on the back of a brochure, with a nicely worded call to action. The brochures are handed out at three trade shows over the course of two months. To separately track them, you setup up three new URLs: qrtest2.html, qrtest3.html and qrtest4.html, of course creating new QR codes resolving to each web page.
The first conference yields only 8 page visitors - meaning, 8 people actually scanned the QR code and loaded the target page in their phone. But the second conference yields 120 visitors, and the third 107! What's going on here?
After talking with the sales reps who attended, you learn the first conference had very spotty data network coverage (both mobile data and wifi), which explains the first outlier. It's likely many people tried scanning the code, but the destination page never loaded for them. The other two results will probably be more typical.
You're selling high-ticket enterprise services, and you realize getting over 100 extra highly qualified leads per conference is fantastically worthwhile. It more than justifies investing in optimizing the QR code landing page, tailoring it to the audience at each conference. And you're not distracted with the underperforming QR code in the magazine ad.
The Winners In This Game
This is especially important right now because QR codes are so new, everyone - even mobile marketing experts - are still figuring out the smartest, most impactful techniques for using QR codes. The winners in this game will be the scientists: those marketers able to make small experiments, determine what brings the greatest ROI, then fully invest for maximum conversions.
Now get to it, winner!