QR Codes: The Short, Short Version

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You have probably seen QR codes—those strange, square barcodes—on direct mail pieces, in advertisements, or even for sale signs. As smart phones become more prevalent, many businesses are experimenting with ways to use QR codes as part of their marketing and communications. But what are QR codes, how do you create them, why should you consider using them?

What is a QR code?

QR (short for “quick response”) codes are 2D barcodes that can be scanned and read by smart phones. Once read by your phone, they will redirect you to a website, send a text on your behalf, or provide directions via Google maps, among other tasks.

How do you scan a QR code?

It’s simple: There are loads of applications that can scan QR codes. Open up your app store and search “QR Application” and download any free reader you see. I like Scan Life, but that’s just me. When you see a QR Code, open the application – it’s just like snapping a picture. Once you scan or snap a picture of the code you will be redirected to a web page, shown a video, or generate an SMS text or call to someone…depending on what the QR creator set up.

How do can you make your own QR Code?

There are plenty of sites that will create a QR code for free. I like QR Stuff – it’s super-easy to create a code for any action, you can download high-resolution images, etc.

How should I use QR codes in my marketing?

Although I’ve seen QR codes used in email marketing, on websites and on Facebook business pages, QR codes are most useful in the physical world. This is your opportunity to engage with a customer (or potential customer) when they are not online – drawing them into your digital content. (Also, I love that they allow you to add a tracking mechanism to your printed or offline marketing activities.) Here are a few examples of how businesses have used QR codes in their marketing:

  • Companies use QR Codes at trade shows to cut down on printed materials.
  • Liquor stores could post QR codes next to wines for in-depth reviews of featured products.

Will QR code marketing work for my business?

Like any marketing campaign, some businesses are better positioned to take advantage of QR code marketing. Since you need a smart phone with a camera, QR scanner and an internet connection, you need to decide if this reflects your target audience or not.

Here’s the skinny…

QR codes will continue to gain in popularity with the boom in smart phone usage. They are easy to create, and becoming easier to use. Depending on your business, you can use QR codes as another way to engage your audience, drive traffic to your website (or elsewhere), and build your business.

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