How to use QR codes
QR code means "Quick Response Code". The term refers to a simple matrix barcode which can be printed in two colours and looks like a lot of black squares within other large black squares. Not pretty but powerful. The code can be 'read' and interpreted by scanning software - the most popular scanner software can be downloaded free as smartphone apps which use the phones camera to scan the QR code.
So what is stored in a QR code then? Well any data or text can be stored - however the most beneficial of data from a marketing perspective is URLs (website addresses in English) which will immediately display on a users smartphone after scanning.
In a word, Nope. These codes can be used to benefit users and businesses. They can be used to really harness your marketing and help to connect the offline and the online worlds. As time goes we are sure they will become more prominent and widely used so that they become a part of every day life.
Here are a few practical examples of the use of QR codes:
If you have a product which needs assembly or needs to be operated by a customer then you will often need to supply a detailed set of instructions. QR codes could be the end of expensive printed instructions because all you would need to do is print a QR code onto your product so that a user can scan it and immediatly be bounced to a URL which could contain all the instructions online - and if you really want to go to town, a video of how to operate your product or install it. This not only enhances the customers experience making life easier for them but also saves you money as you would not have to print and package instructions with your product.
If you have information which is continually updating (like timetables) it can become very costly to keep reprinting the updated information. Instead, consider printing an overview with a QR Code to a website which has the details displayed on it. Websites are far easier and cheaper to update than printed matter and so again this use of QR Codes saves money and is better for a user as it puts the information immediately in their hands. Taking it a step further online software could be written to enable the user to search for the most relevant item on the timetable - this would never be possible with print.
Instead of just having your website on your posters, printed matter and business cards why not print a QR Code. This will help views as they will not need to memorise or write down your web address as all they would need to do is scan it. Lets take this idea further. You could also add tracking codes to the QR code so that you could track what advert or printed matter the user had scanned to see the website. This would allow you to measure the success of your advertising or printed matter in a way that was never possible in the past.
Have a product with an amazing story behind it but no space on the packaging to tell the story? Why not keep the packaging uncluttered and simple and add a simple QR Code. Then on the URL which you sent the customer to record your story in all it's detail online. You could include the making of the product, it's ingredients and their origins and any other important information.
Do you want to grow your contact lists to enable you to contact your audience in the future and grow your brands reputation? With QR codes you can run campaigns which give users free online content, like apps, MP3 music downloads or PDFs - all through QR Codes. Users would need to give away their email addresses of course in order to get these free gifts. You can capture valuable user data with this technique.
Want to send someone somewhere? Use a QR code to pinpoint the location on an online map and guide a user in through their mobile to your destination. This is a brilliant technique for restaurants or retail shops - especially when sales or special promotions are on. Another way this could be useful is if a manufacture wants to display all the stockists of the product they are advertising. The Map could then populate from their list of suppliers, show the user their nearest store and guide them to it.
Do users purchase your products as gifts? You could allow customers to record a personalised message for their loved one which they record in your store at the point of purchase. This message would then be uploaded to a site and a QR code generated which would be printed off as a label and placed on the gift wrap of the product. When the loved one received the gift and scanned the QR code the voice message would play giving a unique expericene and adding real value to your gift wrapping services.
The most amazing thing about QR codes is that they are free! All you need is a website to point one too and a great idea as to how to use them (let us know if you need a hand with this!). To generate a QR code visit QRStuff.com and follow the instructions. Once you have one send it to your designers to incorporate into your marketing materials. Easy Peasy.
So we hope you have been inspired by this article and go on to start using QR codes in your business and marketing activities. If you feel like sharing your QR code experiences please feel free to leave a comment below. We'd love to hear about brilliant uses for the little bar code phenomena!