The FINANCIAL -- Although marketers have historically used Quick Response (QR) codes -- square black and white barcodes -- as marketing tools, survey researchers have often wondered if using QR codes on survey invitations could make it easier for some respondents to access surveys.
According to Gallup, instead of typing in a URL and/or an access code to start the survey, participants could just scan the QR code and begin. The survey may also appear more appealing or relevant to some respondents if the survey invitations incorporate this technology.
Despite these hypothesized advantages, there may also be drawbacks to using QR codes to invite people to take a survey online. Some people may not know how to use a QR code or have a QR code reader on their mobile device. QR codes may also deter potential respondents who are not technologically savvy.
Offering a QR code in combination with other methods of completing the survey may also depress response rates, as some research has shown that offering too many options for accessing a survey can actually harm response rates (Millar and Dillman, 2011).
In the sections that follow, we discuss some considerations associated with implementing QR codes on survey invitations and share the results of an experiment that Gallup conducted with inviting respondents to a survey via a QR code.
The Basics of QR Codes
A QR code is a square barcode of encoded information that connects someone with a website or other information. When a user scans the QR code with an appropriate application on their mobile phone, the application directs them to the information encoded in the QR code.
Companies can encode many types of information and processes within a QR code, such as a URL that contains direct access to a website or electronic resources, the ability to automatically send an email or SMS text message, opening an app, delivery of audio or video files, or loading a phone number to prompt instant callback. Many companies print QR codes on marketing materials to provide consumers with access to information about the company and its products and services.
Using QR Codes in Surveys
Survey invitations can include a QR code that directs respondents to a web-based survey. The advantage to inviting potential respondents in this manner is that they do not have to type in a web address to access the survey. The disadvantage is that potential respondents must have a QR code reader app installed on their phone. Android phones come with a QR code reader, but iPhone users must install a QR code app.
Many surveys require an access code, which prevents respondents from completing a survey multiple times and may allow researchers to tie a completed survey to information contained on the sample frame. QR codes in combination with unique access codes can be managed in one of two ways. The first option is to set up one QR code that links to the survey. Respondents then enter a unique access code that they received in their survey invitation.
The second option is to generate a unique QR code for each respondent. In this case, each respondent's QR code has an access code embedded in it so the respondent can access the survey without having to type a URL or access code into the browser. The disadvantage of this option is that a unique QR and access code must be generated for every respondent in the sample, which can become more costly and more complex to manage because every barcode will be unique.
QR Code Cost
Many QR code generators are available online. The cost of using a QR code generator varies by the number of each type of QR codes that a company uses.
The greater the number of QR codes, the higher the expense. Creating one QR code for all respondents is free, but generating thousands of QR codes with embedded access codes will typically cost money.