Tens of Millions business cards are printed every day but only 12% of those “survives” after the first week of contact exchange. Yeah, billions of precious paper pieces are thrown away in a 7-day period.
Such brutal numbers make business owners question how to get into that lucky dozen at least. There are many things to consider and try for your business contacts to be more appealing. But for now, we’d like to focus on one quite controversial feature of a business card - a QR code.
- How well do QR codes on business cards scan?
- What should the QR code on my business card link to?
- Is it a bad idea to put QR codes on a business card?
- How to make a free QR code for a business card?
- Do free static QR codes ever expire?
- How do people scan QR codes?
- How to make a QR code more appealing?
The main use of QR Codes on standard business cards is to embed additional information on top of what’s already on the paper. This feature is designed for people with smartphones to scan the code with a camera and unleash its encoded power - more on that hereafter.
There is no decent statistics on how often QR codes are used on business cards specifically, however, it’s estimated that about 9.76 Million households scanned QR codes in 2018 (in the US only). The popularity of QR codes is expected to grow even further as the general public gets to see them more frequently, thanks to mobile apps and messengers.
On top of just instant access to digital contact information, there are many things you can encode into QR. To understand what works best for you, start by planning, who, where and why is expected to receive and use your business card. Do you plan to share cards with your potential customers, partners, suppliers, colleagues or employees? The better you analyze your target audience, the more effective would your business card and QR code on it be. Here are some ideas to help you:
- Encode contact information like a phone number, email or vCard. Sounds basic but helps increasing chances that your contacts will get put down to a phone directory. Search options to encode instant contact saving so that recipient will just need to press “Save” to finish the process.
- Encode a message/email template or a phone call. You can create a template for email or sms inquiry that gets ready to be sent once the code is scanned. It’s a good idea to encourage customers to apply for a quote or send their feedback to you.
- Special offers, discounts or giveaways. Choose that to drive more attention to your ongoing or upcoming events. People enjoy an easy way to join the party. It also adds more value to your custom business card as it promises some perks for its owner. This one works for acquiring new customers via providing them demos, trials and so on.
- Pre-set a map location. When your end goal is to invite the prospect to your location quick access to address on a map surely works for the best.
- Event dates. You can make a calendar note and notifications for a specific date when receiver scans a QR code. Use that on a business card targeted to invite people to your event, conference or group meeting.
- Social media following. When your business operates online in a certain social network your following is mainly the client base and audience at the same time. Make prospects join your group or subscribe to the page once they scan QR code from your business card.
Photo by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters
- Show portfolio of your works. This is a great idea for a business card that’s planned to reach a potential employer or project buyer. It can be an archive with your works, direct link to cloud storage or online gallery.
- Teleport them to your showroom. Loading potential customers or partners with your whole catalog can be overwhelming for both parties. Well, there is an option to present 3D models of your product lines in an interactive showroom that can be accessed via QR code. It does not only make the process easier but leaves a memorable impression for your prospect. And you get to receive statistics on their visit.
- Quick appointment, scheduling and purchasing. This one may require some additional setup and works mostly for e-commerce or companies that allow placing orders/booking services online. If you share a business card for people to order products, services, consultancy from you, you can encode the action of booking this service or product. Make sure you’ll bring the prospect to the right step that gives them the opportunity to choose the time and details but cut down some routine of getting to this critical point.
- Compress important details about your experience, personality or biography. In some industries details about you, your company and experience are crucial. There is a way to hide this story in this small square for people to check out. With good caption and proper execution, it’s enabling telling people the story effectively even when you don’t have much time and resources to do it in person. Or even if you do, the ability to refresh it in memory by scanning a card really worths this precious inches.
Sometimes it is. If people you exchange contacts with aren't technology-friendly, chances are high that a QR code will end up just taking up precious space.
Also, if there are already many details on your business card, a QR code will get lost there or make the card hard to interact with. Good business card designs are usually very minimalistic and accurate to avoid overwhelming human brains.
There were some reports that experts criticize QR codes in business card design along with “gimmicky” fonts. However, links to the source research lead to a different survey that doesn’t mention cards or codes at all. And the expert quoted along with this data uses a QR code on their own website.
There is no simple answer whether QR code will work for you or not. Ask yourself if you really have something meaningful and vivid to encode and avoid adding QR only to be trendy. Consider A/B testing of your business cards and check how many people would really scan the code versus using a business card without it.
You can search for free QR code generators that allow encoding a web link, message, email. There are specific ones for business cards exclusively and just basic generators. Numerous of these tools are available in app stores or online with a different range of functions.
Linlet Expo also provides QR codes for your online business cards, showroom, documents, products or social media profile. Extra feature with this tool is a tracking option to monitor how often your code is scanned that will tell you how effective business card and QR code on it are.
QR codes that lead to your social media can sometimes be generated right from your profile. Networks like Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and some others provide QR code generator right in their apps with options to customize some of the elements.
Many printing services also offer designing custom business cards and provide QR code feature. They can help you to not only generate the code but also give it an attractive appearance and a good place on the card.
We recommend you to test the end results on different smartphones and OS with various QR code scanners before adding the code to your business card to ensure it works correctly.
QR codes don’t ever expire. But there can be issues caused by malfunction of a webpage you encoded.
Many newest smartphones come with a built-in QR code recognition right in the camera. They can detect the code and open the data from it. However, some phones may not have such a feature - in this case, special apps called QR code readers or scanners need to be installed.
For people to notice and scan your code it is important to make it attractive and tempting. The easiest steps you can take to enliven a code:
- Make it colorful
- Add a logo
- Try a different shape
Embed a QR code creatively into a business card design if you decide to use one. People need to clearly know what to expect while scanning the code as well as have a valuable reason to go that extra mile.