The term “QR codes” is popping up everywhere so we thought we would give our readers some insight on what they are and some of the slightly crazy, but clever ways businesses are using them.
QR codes (or Quick Response Codes) are two-dimensional codes that can hold thousands of characters of information. Though they look like standard bar codes, they are actually quite different. QR codes can store much more data including url links, location information, and text.
Basically, a QR code can store any information you add to it. Once a mobile device takes a picture of the code, the information will be automatically transmitted to the device. The transmitted information can include contact details about a business, personal details, movie previews, or any other type of media related content.
Have you seen any QR codes?
If you look around on some store windows and advertisements, you may spot one. They hail from Japan where they are very popular. They are just catching on in the US and are slowly gaining popularity.
QR codes are easy to create. Here is one I created for this website. When you take a picture of it with your mobile device, it should direct you to www.site-reference.com. (You must install a QR code reader on your device in order to scan the code – see below)
With your QR codes you can also link to any type of digital media and utilize phone functions such as email, instant messaging and SMS.
Besides url’s you can also include text along with your links. In this QR code, I listed my contact information. When you scan it, you should see my information and it will ask if you want to save it on your device.
QR Code Readers
To scan a QR Code, you must install an application on your mobile device. Here are the recommended applications:
iPhone – i-nigma (A reader that also allows you to create your own QR Codes)
iPhone and iPad – Qrafter – This application is the first to be designed specifically for the iPad.
Android – Barcode Scanner is widely used for the Android mobile devices. I used this application to scan the above codes to verify if they were correct.
How do you create a QR Code?
There are many websites that will allow you to easily create a QR Code. You can either type “QR Code Generator” into a web browser or use these recommended sites:
Kaywa – Kaywa was designed by Datamatrix. I used this website to create the QR codes above. It took me all of 10 seconds. You can use Kaywa to generate QR codes that link to a website or web page, a text, or SMS.
Kerem Erkan – This site will allow you to customize your codes. It offers more in-depth options and more creativity.
QR Code Uses
The uses for QR codes are endless, especially for marketing purposes. Consider these possibilities:
1. Facebook – You can direct customers to a page which leads them to “Like” your fan page or follow you on Twitter. With Facebook “Like” generating QR codes created from sites like Likify, you can create a custom page that includes the option to “Like” your fan page. You can also direct people to your Facebook welcome page.
2. Blogs – Direct customers or prospects to a specific blog post.
3. Element of surprise – Use QR codes to hide information that can only be revealed by scanning the code.
4. Articles, ebooks, videos. – You can direct scanners to any type of related content with QR codes.
5. Custom landing pages
6. Business cards
7. Directions to your business
8. Mp3 audio downloads
9. Customer reviews
10. Email subscriber page
11. Product Demonstrations
There are thousands of creative uses for QR codes. Take a look at how some of these businesses used them:
1. Business Cards
2. Creative Product Use
3. Billboard Advertising
4. Pepsi Bottle
5. Belt Buckle
Before you start marketing with QR codes, there are a few things you should know:
Create mobile pages – Remember that QR codes are used with mobile devices. Whenever you are sending people to a website, ensure that it is a mobile-friendly site.
Track use with link shorteners – If you are using QR codes to generate leads and sales, it is paramount that you separate each code and create specific url’s for each marketing strategy so it is easy to track which ones are working. You can use bit.ly or goo.gl to track each individual link. These services also allow you to automatically create QR codes from your shortened links.
Test on all platforms – Once you generate your code, test it with multiple readers and devices to ensure it works correctly.
For more marketing tips, see 5 Steps to a Successful QR Code Marketing Campaign
Have you used QR codes in your business?
By Jenna Scaglione