So what’s the big deal with QR Codes, why is their use literally EXPLODING all around the world…and why should you care?
QR Codes in any of your printed media can be linked to
- contact details about your business
- a map showing how to find your business locations
- any web page offering information linked to the printed media
- a related discount coupon or special limited offer
- an autoplay a video e.g. product information or a movie trailer
QR Codes can store much more information than a traditional bar code, and the real key to their use and adoption is that they can been read and used by most modern cell phones, making them easily accessible to the general public.
1. QR Codes are free.
In their most basic form, QR Codes are free to generate and cost nothing extra to print. Just add them to your existing marketing materials like any other image.
2. QR Codes provide an immediate response mechanism.
As soon as an advertisement or product catches their eye, consumers can snap and view. There is no delay between the interest and the response.
This eliminates the drop in response rates that comes when people are required to type in URLs by hand or write down information to access later when they are sitting in front of their PC.
You should think of QR Codes as the marketing equivalent of an impulse buy at the checkout counter.
3. They leverage today’s growing mobile culture.
The latest smart phones have been described as today’s laptop. People’s entire lives are stored on their phones, from contacts to music and family photos. The cell phone is the one device that is with people at all times, even in bed!
A jogger is out for their morning run and sees a QR Code on a billboard or bus bench. She stops, scans the code (which is stored on the phone for later) and continues running. Later at the office, they are able to view the content while on a break.
Imagine a teenager visiting at a friend’s house sees a jewel case for a new album by his favorite band. By snapping the QR Code on the back, he is instantly directed to a mobile website where he can listen to audio clips, purchase songs and download them directly to his phone, or buy tickets to the latest tour. He can even access links that automatically Tweet the information or post it on his Facebook account!
4. QR Codes are trackable.
Not only are QR Codes trackable themselves, but they can provide tracking for other types of media such as billboards or magazine advertisements that are not otherwise trackable with proper tracking, the code can be printed on a piece of direct mail advertising, and if five different people access it, not only will you know it, you will be able to tell when and where those scans occurred!
QR Codes can be set up to recognize the type of phone used to read them and provide content optimized for the exact model of phone used to give an end user the best possible experience.
QR Codes and How to Use Them
QR Codes, or Quick Response codes, are a type of 2D bar code that may be decoded using your Smartphone with a QR Code reader application.
From its lowly beginning as a tracking mechanism for auto parts, QR Codes have proven to be very useful in marketing and convenience related applications.
There are two main things that you need to have when you deal with QR Codes:
1. A mobile phone with a camera (and Internet connectivity)
2. A QR Code reader
Most new smart phones have a QR Code reader already installed, if not you will need to go to your phone providers “App Store” and download a reader.
Many Android, Nokia, and Blackberry phones come with QR Code readers pre-installed. If you have an older phone, you will need to download the reader application and install it yourself.
Note: You would have to check on the compatibility of these readers with your phone as some readers work only on iPhones or Android phones.
There are readers that work on the Symbian OS found on Nokia phones and Java found on lower end smart and “feature” phones.
How Do You Scan the QR Code?
After you have installed the application, start up the reader and snap a picture of the QR Code.
Make sure that your hand is steady and that you are able to include the whole code into the picture. There will be some instances when a scan fails, do not worry, just keep snapping!
Some of the newest QR Code readers (like i-nigma for the iPhone) no longer require you to take a picture; they simply allow you to scan the barcode with your camera!
Depending on your software, it may take from five to thirty seconds for the application to resolve the link for you.
That is to say, to decode the information written behind the code. For instance, if it is a URL, the QR Code reader will open your web browser and let you view the mobile site the code links to.
If it is a vCard, a file that contains a person’s contact information, it will offer to let you save the information into your address book.