Do You Need to Add QR Codes to Real Estate Marketing Materials?

There has been a lot of buzz lately in the real estate community about adding QR codes to marketing materials. QR codes (short for quick response) are two-dimensional images that can be read by smart phones, using technology that is similar to that of store checkout bar code scanners. When a prospect with a camera equipped smartphone loaded with a QR reader points and clicks at the code, they are served up a mobile site with your listing and contact info.

The best answer to the question of whether you need to add QR codes to real estate marking materials may be that: 1) adding QR codes to yard signs has probably gained enough momentum that it should be strongly considered; and 2) the use of QR codes has not become mainstream enough to justify the cost of reprinting existing print materials and business cards.

The rational for the mixed advice is that QR codes only reach a small segment of the population. Among mobile phone users, only about a quarter have smart phones. And even among the smart phones users, only a fraction of them take advantage of the smart phone applications required to read QR codes. However despite the small size of the population that accesses QR codes, they tend to an extremely desirable audience of upscale, trendy home buyers. Further adding QR codes to yard signs will position you as being innovative and forward thinking. Adding QR codes to yard signs is probably a worthwhile investment because they are such a potent marketing device and are typically viewed by prospects without immediate access to a desktop computer. There is also a bit of “keeping up with the Jones” aspect of utilizing QR codes. Coldwell Banker in particular has been expanding the use of QR codes. For reference, Peter Toner has compiled a list of some potential uses for QR codes in real estate marketing.

On the other hand, given the limited percent of the population that is actually utilizing QR codes, adding them to all your marketing materials seems a bit faddish. While a QR code can be quickly accessed by a smart phone, a printed URL serves the same function, simply requiring many more taps on the mobile phone keypad to input the URL. Thus, it seems a bit premature to attempt a cost justification for discarding and reprinting all your marketing materials in order to replace them with new ones featuring QR codes.

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