An example of a QR code. Scan it to import my contact info to your mobile device.

You’ve probably seen QR codes popping up everywhere – from magazine ads to TV commercials, product packaging, cereal boxes and online banner ads. These strange-looking images are embedded with information that, once scanned by a QR code reader, provides information to the user. The information provided is determined by the QR code creator. Marketers have seized on QR codes as a fun and techy way to not only provide info, but to direct people to campaign-specific web pages or downloads.

As more and more people start to use QR codes, it’s important to also implement some of these common sense QR code best practices to ensure your (potential) customers have the best experience.

Make sure the destination content is mobile-friendly! – Believe it or not, I’ve scanned QR codes that took me to non mobile-friendly sites. This may seem like a no-brainer, but just remember that iPhone users can’t see Adobe Flash pages on their phone’s browser, for example.

Provide useful and/or actionable information. – If the text and images surrounding your QR code were compelling enough to make someone pull out their mobile phone and scan your code, make sure their effort is rewarded by providing useful (or at least interesting) information.

Make sure the medium fits the QR code. – If you are one of the many who use QR codes on their business cards, have the QR code link to your contact information and other relevant links like your LinkedIn profile. If the QR code is printed on a product, ensure that the links provided include things like the user manual, related products, and customer support information.

Make the QR code easy to spot and scan. — Here’s another no-brainer, but I’ve seen campaigns that practically bury the QR code in a sea of busy graphic design elements. If the end goal is to get someone to scan the QR code, please make it as easy as possible for them to find it!

Fair disclosure – inform the person scanning the code if it takes him or her to a download link. — Most QR codes simply provide static information, but a growing trend is for the code to lead the person scanning it to a download. Be sure to fully disclose that scanning the code will trigger an app download; otherwise, your customer will think his or her phone is being hijacked or hacked.

Bonus tip – Since not everyone knows what a QR code is or what they’re supposed to do with one, provide info or a link to a QR code reader if possible. I’m a fan of Quafter for iPhone.

Remember, the key to meaningful engagement is context; context in this case is code reader + code = successful QR code campaign.