So what’s the QR Buzz?
Where did QR Codes come from?
QR codes have been around since 1994; Toyota invented them to track vehicles during manufacturing. But in the past few years, businesses large and small have started using QR codes to direct consumers to a specific URL, such as a Web page offering discount coupons, a YouTube video, or more information about a product on display. The QR Code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. Unlike the old bar code that was designed to be mechanically scanned by a narrow beam of light, the QR code is detected as a 2-dimensional digital image by a sensor. The sensor finds the three distinctive squares at the corners of the image, and normalizes image size, orientation, and angle of viewing. The small dots are then converted to binary numbers and validity checked with an error-correcting code.
There are lots of websites offering free or paid QR code generator tools, my favorite one is beQRious.com. It’s extremely easy to generate a QR code using these and other websites. They are a good way to get consumers involved, to keep them engaged and interested in what you have to offer.
Tips for using QR codes in your marketing campaigns.
Use QR Codes for Contact Information
Use a QR code on business cards or on your website so that individuals scanning the code can instantly download your contact information to their phone – for example, if you own a plumbing company, enabling consumers to instantly download your contact details to their phone as ‘ABC Plumbing Company’ means that your company will be top of the list when/if they need your services in the future.
Always Provide Quality Content
Many companies using QR codes for the first time make the mistake of directing consumers straight to their desktop website without offering an incentive or interesting content. Always make sure your site is mobile-friendly and that you are offering consumers something more entertaining or educational than a basic website as you’ll quickly lose interest otherwise.
Know Your Target Market
Targeting QR codes to anyone and everyone may seem like a good idea, but if you’re targeting them to people without smartphones you run the risk of alienating part of your audience. Use QR codes only where you know they will work. The average QR code is being scanned by a middle-aged (34-54) woman, looking at product packaging and interested in downloading a coupon. Now, what did you say about free wallpaper
Make it Natural
Just putting the QR code anywhere or making it especially large will seem a little obnoxious – instead, make it seem natural by incorporating it into the design of your packaging or advertising or keep it small and use it at the end of your final sentence, as this is a natural place for consumers to want to go on to seek more information about your product or brand.
Use QR Codes to Direct-Dial
If you want to encourage people to phone your sales center, encode the QR code so that scanning it will automatically dial your phone number. This is a superb call to action and an easy way to connect consumers directly to your customer support or helpline.
Make Your QR Code Accessible to As Many People As Possible
Some QR codes cannot be scanned by older smartphones or by phones with poor quality cameras. Try to make your QR codes accessible by making them easy to scan by as many different smartphones and applications as possible.
The longer the URL, the more complex and detailed the QR code image will be. See the example below. Two codes, both going to the same article. One is using the full URL (http://travel2dot0.com/2011/04/why-your-qr-promo-sucks/) and one is using the full URL filtered through a link shortener (http://ow.ly/6AhLw).
See the difference? One is much more forgiving when scanned quickly or with a poor quality camera phone.
Make it Interesting
Older QR codes were only available in a black and white checkered design, but with newer QR codes you can experiment with colors, styles and even by adding your own logo – just make sure that your codes stand out enough from your branding so that the consumer spots them.
This really should have been tip number one. There are countless examples of a QR campaign that directs to a non-mobile site. That is a huge mistake. What’s the point of scanning a code with a mobile device if it doesn’t take you to a mobile friendly site?
Test, test, test
Don’t just test the link on your computer. Print a version, plaster on a window or in a magazine. Snap a few pictures, try to download the code. Does it work properly? What about size of the code? Signal? Does it go to the right mobile page? Test and then, test again.
Check out this infographic with some great QR Code stats.