QR codes (Quick Response) are a great way to instantly connect with your customers wherever they might be, allowing them to access a wide range of consumer information and special offers right from their cell phone or mobile device camera through one of many QR code scanning apps. If you haven’t begun to explore the tremendous marketing capabilities of QR codes, you are missing out on an extremely valuable technological tool that can expand your customer base, increase traffic to your website, and provide a significant boost to overall profits.
What is a QR Code?
Developed in Japan in the mid-1990s and widely used throughout Asia and Europe, QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that are read by any smart phone or mobile device that is equipped with a camera and some form of Internet access. These codes are a close cousin to the bar codes that are commonly attached to consumer items in a store or supermarket. In a nutshell, QR codes are scanned to retrieve a piece of information or media that is then displayed on a customer’s Smartphone or device. This information can be anything from a coupon to detailed product information or even a short video that explains and promotes your company. As a marketer or business this can be a valuable tool to incorporate into your arsenal. How might you use a QR code to add value for your customers?
Although QR codes have taken a bit longer to catch on with the American consumer, the technology ultimately made a splashy stateside arrival. In 2010, the respected international mobile payments and marketing company Mobio Identity Systems reported a 1,200% increase in the use of QR codes within North America.
Many independent business authorities report that the use of the technology continues to grow, with the QR code experiencing a recent boom in the United States. Assessing daily scans by the leading QR code company ScanLife, Marketing Charts determined that ScanLife “processed 18 million scans via its ScanBuy application in Q1 2013″ an increase of “13 million scans in Q1 2012” up 157% from the previous year; showing that the usage and adoption of QR codes is only likely to increase in the foreseeable future.
How a QR Code Works
A QR code is far more useful than a standard barcode because it can store much more data, including URL links, geo coordinates, and text. Perhaps most importantly it doesn’t require an industry-specific hand-held scanner to transmit this information. Any modern cell phone can easily scan a QR code in a matter of seconds. In order to use QR codes, a mobile device must have a QR code reader, but this application can be readily downloaded for free in less than a minute from a variety of online sources. Outfitted with this basic equipment, consumers are ready to scan any QR code that might interest them. For more information about how a QR code works, see this straightforward but detailed infographic.
How Can Your Business Use QR Codes?
From retail businesses and nonprofit groups to clubs, professional associations, and educational institutions, almost any type of organization can use QR codes in their marketing materials. QR Codes are a great way to:
- Download contact details
- Offer product information
- Display coupons
- Reward loyalty program members
- Link to your website
- Connect to social media
- Link to YouTube videos
- Display Yelp reviews
- View a Google Maps location
- Provide directions to your business
- Provide competition details
- Offer contest entry forms
- Email newsletters
- Link to a mobile payment system
- Dial a telephone number
- Send a text message
- View a message or a special offer
The Infinite Marketing Possibilities of QR Codes
Originally used to provide information about various consumer goods and industrial parts, QR codes have a wide range of advertising and marketing applications. When attached to a product’s packaging, they can lead customers to similar or associated goods or services.
They can also provide more information about your company or simply link to your official website and/or social media profiles. However, product packaging is only one of the many business areas to benefit from QR code technology. As a marketing professional, you can reach your consumer base wherever a two-dimensional QR code can be printed or electronically transmitted. Use your imagination to speak directly to existing and potential customers where they live, work, rest, and play.
Examples of effective QR code applications include:
- Print advertising
- Business cards
- Web pages
- Online videos
- TV advertisements
- Conference/Event Displays
Even tee shirts can be printed to include valuable and informative QR codes.
Have you seen a unique or interesting use of QR codes? Have you combined QR codes and marketing? Share your experiences in the comments below.