QR Codes are quickly gaining mainstream acceptance. This simple technology allows users to easily move from an offline (newspaper, magazine, hoarding, brochure) environment to an online one, by just using their smartphone cameras.
QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional bar code) first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. Bar codes are optical machine-readable labels attached to items that transmit information related to the item. Initially patented, its patent holder has chosen not to exercise those rights. Recently, the QR Code system has become popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes.
The code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be made up of four standardized types (“modes”) of data, or through supported extensions, virtually any type of data.
A Nice YouTube Video Explaining it All
Using QR Codes for Business
QR and other two-dimensional (2D) codes can be readily integrated into your current business marketing practices to bring your online content to a mobile audience in real time.
In North America, QR and 2D codes are still a novelty. For this reason, early adopters are eagerly putting them into practice to get to market first and capitalize on the trend. As a result, some embarrassing and costly mistakes are being made (photo credit: businessinsider.com). However, there are a number of practical ways QR codes can be used for marketing and promotions in a variety of settings. QR Codes can be integrated into just about any type of printed materials, including:
- Conference/Event Displays
- Print Advertisements
- Business Cards
- Brochures, Posters and Flyers
- Postcards and Mailers
What Can a QR Code Do?
Once a QR code is scanned the encoded information can be used to automatically trigger a range of actions on the user’s device, including:
- View a Mobile Website or Landing Page
- Dial Telephone Number
- Send a Text Message
- Send an Email
- View a Message or Special Offer
- Download Contact Details (VCARD)
- View a Google Maps Location
- View a Social Media Profile
What Types of Organizations Can Use QR Codes?
Just about any type of organization can use QR Codes in their marketing materials. Whether you’re a retail business, a nonprofit organization, a membership association or educational institution, if a portion of your target audiences use smartphones then a QR Code can be a great way to differentiate yourself and reach people in new ways.
What Are Some Examples of How QR Codes Can Be Used?
There are numerous ways that QR Codes can be used to strategically bridge offline and online media. Here are but a few examples:
- A consultant’s business card contains a QR code that links to a landing page with enthusiastic client testimonials, or a VCard to download contact info.
- A public education poster about substance abuse provides a QR code that links to a mobile website with a self-assessment quiz and community support resources.
- A local business displays a QR code with a link to their Google Places page with customer reviews and coupons.
- A retail store displays a QR Code next to in-store products to view product demonstrations and reviews.
- An advertisement for a nonprofit organization includes a QR code that links to a volunteer and donation page.
- A restaurant includes a QR code on a takeout menu, which links to a mobile restaurant website for online reservations, orders and interactive directions.
- A home-repair product includes a link to a how-to video with installation instructions.
- A campaign sign for a political candidate contains a QR code that links to an audio file with a message from the candidate, or a mobile landing page with the candidate’s bio, campaign platform and opportunities to volunteer or contribute.
- A vendor at a conference places a QR code on their display booth so that attendees can conveniently scan and save the vendor’s information as they pass by.
- A realtor places a QR Code on For Sale sign in front of a residential property, which provides additional home specifications, interior photos and Google Maps location for later reference.
- A promotional poster for a movie contains a QR Code with a link to a video of the trailer and form to opt-in to notifications when the film is released.
What Are Some Other Advantages of Using QR Codes?
- User Convenience – QR Codes provide a convenient one-step process for directing users to a website, phone number, directions, promotions or other information.
- Environmentally-Friendly – QR Codes can make more efficient use of printed materials and reduce waste.
- Cost-Effective – QR Codes cost nothing to produce; their use is only limited by your marketing strategy.
- Versatile – QR Codes can be integrated with a wide range of marketing materials for just about any purpose, including print collateral, outdoor display and direct mail.
- Device Independent – QR codes, as well as the landing pages they link to, can be viewed on all popular smartphone models and do not require special development for different platforms (e.g. iPhone vs. Android), as is the case with apps.
- Measurable – Actions triggered via QR Codes can be traced with web analytics or other tools for marketing campaign measurement.
- Competitive Differentiation – Because QR Codes are still relatively new to the U.S., those who are among the first to employ them in their outreach campaigns will set themselves apart as leaders in strategic marketing.
Are They Right For You
If you do any kind of print advertising, yes! Contact us today and see if we can help you with your next print or electronic marketing effort and further engage your audience. Remember, having the proper campaign set up behind the scenes is just as important as what is in front.
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