Quick Response Codes (QR Codes), defined by Wikipedia, is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data. The 2D codes are able to hold much more information and data versus the more commonly bar code generally used for tracking inventory and products.
The QR code technology has been around for almost two decades but is now only starting to gain traction with widespread adoption here in the U.S. It’s origination can be tracked back to 1994 in Japan where Toyota created the code to track manufacturing parts.
Its use has evolved immensely since its conception with marketers across the globe finding creative uses in finally connecting the web (particularly the mobile web or via applications) with traditional print media. There is no longer this gab between both medias. Today’s consumers want immediate and relevant access to the brand. The QR code allows for immediate interaction with the destination of the scanned code. A printed flier essentially comes to life with an abundance of interactive information.
How do QR codes work?
Create: First you’ll need to find a QR code generator (Kaywa, QRstuff.com, Kerem Erkan) which allows you to input actions (capabilities vary between QR code generators) on what you want the QR code to do when scanned. The QR code generator then outputs a 2D image with your actions (data) encoded into it.
There are different kinds of QR code generators that do different things. QRstuff.com allows you to create a shortened URL that gets encoded into the QR image. Once the image is created you can swap out the destination URL to be able to use the same QR code image for different destinations. The thing that stays constant is the image and the shortened URL, you’re able to change its destination. TappInn allows you to build mobile smart sites so when a QR code is scanned you’re directed to a mobile site with your data and information. PingTags allows you to link your business card to your LinkedIn profile mobile site where one can acquire all of the necessary information. From the LinkedIn profile you can make a phone call, check your other social network sites, your blog, etc. From just one scan of your business card you have immediate access to their entire profile vs just the contact information that’s normally on a business card.
Direct: You can create QR codes that direct a user to a webpage, “Like” a Facebook fan page, SMS, text message, phone number, vCal, google maps, etc.
Scan: QR readers are applications (apps) that you’re able to download from your smartphone’s app store (iPhone – i-nigma; Android – Barcode Scanner; Blackberry – comes with the phone or QR Code Scanner Pro). Upon downloading and opening your QR reader app hold the phone’s camera over the QR code image until it is able to read the data. It will then direct you to the specified destination.
Where to use QR codes?
- Business cards
- Ticket Stubs
- Thank you cards
- Window signage
- All printed marketing materials
Where to point a user from the QR code?
- To a website URL
- To a coupon
- To “Like” your Facebook Fan Page
- To a contest
- To an interactive application
- To a YouTube video
- To an iTunes download link
- To a vCal, vCard, etc.
- To a Google Maps location
- To a PayPal buy now link
- To post and share a tweet
- (Tip: be sure to have the destination be mobile friendly)
QR codes are now able to connect the traditional print media with today’s digital age media and allows for immediate interaction with the user. Most QR code generators offer a robust analytics platform to track your printed materials that house the QR code image. I’d say expect to see these everywhere as the uses begin to expand and become simply more convenient.
Have you see any creative uses with QR Codes?