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By now, you’ve more than likely seen the black and white checkered barcodes known as QR codes on some product while you were out shopping. They’ve been popping up on packaging, printed ads, and various other places more frequently as smart phone popularity has increased. If you’ve seen one of these little monochrome squares and thought it was just some strange abstract art form, keep reading! QR codes are something that may be of use to you.
Let’s start with a little background on QR codes. The “QR” stands for “Quick Response”, and the image was developed to be read by smartphones. The black modules are arranged on a white background, and the pattern holds encoded information such as text or a URL. The more complex the pattern is, the more information it holds.
Why do you care?
If you’re a consumer, QR codes are an easy way for you to access more information about a product you may see in a store or advertisement. Do you like that widescreen tv, but want to know more details about it? Use your smartphone to take a photo of the QR code and you will be given that information. You may be wondering why you couldn’t just have been given the URL to the page to get to the information, but if you own a smartphone, then you know how time consuming and irritating it can be to type out a long web address on that little keyboard. The QR code gives you direct access to whatever information someone wants to share with you without losing your interest when you realize you have to type something out and battle your phone’s auto correct feature.
The biggest benefit of all this is that almost EVERYONE has a smartphone nowadays… so QR codes aren’t targeting just a select few people, they’re useable for a majority of the population. So, take lots of lazy people who hate typing on their phone, give them a barcode to take a picture of (they love taking pictures anyway), and BOOM! They’re looking at whatever information you wanted to share with them.
This is a great benefit for businesses. QR codes shouldn’t replace putting your website address on everything, but it gives you a new way to give information to people without worrying about them forgetting the web address or not wanting to be bothered with the extra step of typing.
What do I do with a QR code?
With any product or service, you probably have a lot of information you want to give people, but there’s never enough room in that ad space or on the product packaging. You can use a QR code to send people to a web page that contains more information about your product or service.
Remember, QR codes are for printed pieces… using them on the web is redundant.
Also, remember that people are using a smartphone when they capture a QR code, so make sure whatever information you send them to is formatted nicely for what is most likely a small touch screen, not a desktop computer (make it mobile friendly please!). If the page takes too long to load or doesn’t load correctly, people will not try again.
If you have created your own mobile app, a QR code is a great way to send people to the download page for your application since they’re already on their mobile device. Another good example is linking to directions to a business location, especially since many mobile phones contain GPS features. Perhaps you are trying to boost your fans on Facebook… link to your Facebook page with the QR code and ask for “Likes”!
You can even get creative with QR codes… they don’t have to be black and white, square and boring (although that does make it more likely to work correctly, so be careful with how creative you get). Here are some examples of creative QR codes.
To wrap this up: QR codes are a growing phenomenon that every business should consider checking out. They’re easy, they’re cheap, and they can add something new and interactive to any campaign!