We’ve been getting quite a bit of inquires from our clients and individuals on what QR codes are and what should they be used for. At first they can look quite confusing and odd, but if used correctly, they can be very useful for businesses and individuals to promote a product, service, or just help “spread the word”.
QR stands for Quick Response and is considered to be a 2 dimensional matrix code. They were initially created by the automotive industry for cataloging since it could embed large amounts of data (binary, alphanumeric) and can be decoded quickly. Since the QR code has the capability to retain more data and scanned quickly other uses for the QR code are increasingly becoming popular outside of traditional logistic company uses. They are free to use, and there are a variety of sites that you can go to create one.
To decode a QR code you need to have something that can scan it and decode the data. The Apple Store and Android Market have a large number of free QR code reader apps that you can download which allows for your mobile device to scan the QR code with your camera.
But what are they good for and what’s the best way to use them? Here are few things that you can do to use a QR code for yourself:
- Business Cards: This is probably the biggest application I have seen for a QR code. People will embed all of their contact information within the QR code and have the QR code printed on the back of their business card. So if someone wants to input your info into their phone, all they have to do is scan the QR code and save it as a new contact. And since the QR can embed large amounts of data, you can put all your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. in there as well and not have it fill up space on the actual business card.
- Promotions, discounts and giveaways: If you want to encourage patronage from the iPhone and Android set, you could create discounts that are specific to the QR codes. You could run these codes in advertisements or post them throughout your store. You could even turn them into a “retweet” so that your shoppers share their discount with their followers.
- Build your email subscriber list: Use your QR code to send people to your email signup. Just make sure you give people a compelling reason to subscribe to your list…otherwise you will have just wasted their time.
- Get the phone ringing: QR codes can also make a phone call. (Oh, imagine the mischief!) If you want to get the phones ringing–at your business or at campaign headquarters–you can create a code that will dial a predetermined number. Likewise, QR codes can generate SMS text messages.
Don’t use QR codes to link to items like PDF’s or documents. Since the primary (and probably only) use for a QR scanner is on a mobile phone or tablet (with camera), not all devices come equipped with reading that information. It’s better to have it linked to a mobile site where they can get more information on the product, service or marketing campaign that you are trying to promote.
Don’t just use a QR code to drive users to your website homepage alone. Create a landing page just for that QR code and provide something special there they can’t get anywhere else—whether it’s a video, a contest they can enter. Tailor the offering to your market. If your target users are college kids, a funny video tied into your product or service might work. If your target users are corporate executives, a free report is more likely to sway them.
Users scan QR codes wherever they happen to be which includes outdoors, in stores, while traveling or even at home. According to recent comScore survey, the most popular sources of QR codes are newspapers and magazines. But you can put them in your store, mailers, packaging, bills or on receipts. Feel to get creative with your QR code!