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Published on March 29th, 2011 | by Janine Popick

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QR Codes – What They Are & What They Can Do for Your Business

“QR” codes are all the rage for some businesses – especially retailers. These codes have the ability to hold lots of information but in general have been used to direct people who scan them to a web page. For that reason, there are a ton of possibilities for you to incorporate using QR codes into your own business. Let me try to break it down for you.

What is a QR Code?

VrQRThe QR or “Quick Response” code (pictured to the right) is a code that is made up of black blobs (technical term) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. It is used by many retailers to track inventory, used by airlines to check you in at the gate, but the most exciting thing for small businesses is that these codes can help generate business!

For most mobile phones that have cameras, there are downloadable apps that enable the code to be easily read by just pointing the phone at the code. Once the code is read, the mobile phone will do what you want it to do like opening a web page. If you’ve got a QR code reader, go ahead and read the code to the right, you’ll be taken to the VerticalResponse home page! However, when we use QR codes, we’ll direct anyone who scans one to a page that contains much less information since scanning large web pages on a smart phone can be overwhelming.

Practical Applications of a QR Code for Businesses

Advertisement QR

Get More Customers – When someone scans in the code, take them to a web page where they can get a special deal or a discount for your services. This could work especially well if you’ve placed the QR code on your retail location to attract new visitors. If you’re wanting to get people from online to your location, Tweet the QR code to your followers and send them to a page that has a coupon they’ll need to show you in order to redeem.

Grow Your Email List – If you offer something of value like a white paper or a special deal, you can direct anyone who scans the code to a sign up form. In order to receive their deal from you they’ll need to give you an email address so you can send them an email that contains the information they’re signing up for.

Grow Your Mobile List – Just like growing your email list,  if you want to collect mobile numbers then you’ll need them to fill out their phone number so you can send them a text with the information contained in it.

Advertisement QR

Customer Service Videos – If you’ve gotan informational video about your company, your products or services, you can direct them to a mobile-friendly page where you host the video. The advertisement to the right shows a great example of what people will get if they scan the code and how to get a reader if they don’t have one.

Where You Can Put QR Codes to Work!

• Printed advertisements
• Signs
• Sandwich boards or billboards
• Your store or restaurant window
• Datasheets and collateral
• Direct mail postcards
• Product labels
• Business cards
• Take out menus
• Magazine publications
• Inbox shipments
• Endless possibilities

How You Generate Your Very Own QR Codes – for Free – in Seconds

There are a bunch of easy ways you can generate a QR code (bit.ly is one of many). You can also use Goo.gl which is a URL shortener combined with a QR code generator. Why is that cool? Because it allows you to track the number of visits to the page where the QR code was read. Make sure you’re logged into Google and just type the URL of the page you want to direct people to. You’ll then be presented with a newly shortened URL. Once you get your shortened URL, click on “details” and you’ll see your very own QR code automatically generated for you. You can then right click and save it as a JPEG or take a screen shot of it (but saving the image as a JPEG will give you the best resolution especially for print). Then use it on any of the materials I’ve stated above and you’ll be able to see clicks generated from the QR code to assess what’s working for you.

What People Need to Read Your QR Codes on Their Smart Phones

People who have smart phones will need to be able to download a QR code reader app, many of which are free. I found a great listing at this site called 2d code so check it out.

Have some fun with your own QR Codes and let us know how it worked!

© 2011 – 2012, Janine Popick. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

is a contributing author for VerticalResponse.



14 Responses to QR Codes – What They Are & What They Can Do for Your Business

  1. Joyce M says:

    Has anyone see QR codes used for fund raising or event registration?

  2. Doug Cox says:

    If you are looking to execute a smart and successful marketing program then look no further http://www.postergiant.net can help! We have years of experience working with QR codes and building landing pages.

  3. JohnC says:

    While QR codes are an easy add to allow access to online channels, it is still a year or two away from showing significant results.
    Right now around 20% of phones are smart phones, and of that only a small percentage of people have the application to read the QR codes. Ultimately only 2-3% of all phones can do anything with QR codes.
    The positive is that adding a QR code costs nothing, so anyone you grab is positive. Just dont expect it to make big difference in the traffic to your website. (it will change over time, like i said, give it a year or two)
    There are a few companies I have seen like JAGTAG that only need a phone with a camera (and the ability to text or email the pic).
    Effectively you can hit all smartphones and standard phones with content optimized for the phone you sent it from.
    The drawback is that there are setup costs. So not good for a local restaurant.
    Remember the first time you saw a www. address in an ad? Thats what QR codes will be in a few years, everywhere!

  4. Micah Gaudio says:

    QR codes will be a short lived marketing fad that will loose ground to text-in campaigns as early as this year. Does anyone remember the usb highlight pen in 1999? Main reason for failure; no opt in of customer data at entry which text campaigns offer. Also I see the older demo and younger demo more likely to text than download an app.
    Great article but in the end marketers would rather have opt in lists not clicks.

  5. The QR code you get from Bit.ly is a PNG, FYI. Far better than a JPEG in this case.
    If you want a code that you can track, this is a good way to go. If you want to generate other kinds of QR codes check out http://www.qrafter.com. In my opinion, this is the best online QR code generator available. And it’s free to use.

  6. Thanks for the article …yes we have just started using QR codes in our advertising and have yet to see the results.

  7. Lcalderin says:

    You also automatically receive QR codes from bit.ly when you put a link in too, but thanks for showing the Google option! With any luck, Google will improve their link shortener to track unique clicks.

  8. Put your contact information (vCard) into a QR code and put it on the back of your business cards. A person can scan your card and create a new contact in a snap. The easier it is to get your info into their address book the better!
    Here’s a link to my write-up on it.
    http://christianboyce.blogspot.com/2011/03/qr-codes-next-big-thing.html

  9. Beautiful article guys :)
    We’re a Marketing Company (Winergy) and we use QR Codes to harvest emails, and consent, through allowing users to rate any single object, like for instance a products, and in the process the users *have* to put in their email address, and give consent to do Direct Marketing.
    Interesting to see that you guys’ have connected the dots too :)
    Here; http://www.winergyinc.com/qr-codes

  10. Angela Henry says:

    I’m an author and I have a QR code on my blog and promo posters for readers to connect to a mobile website I created especially for my book. The mobile site has info about the book as well as bonus book content. I love QR codes! I even had a QR code scavenger hunt to launch the book.

  11. As a professional career coach and resume writer, my staff and I are including a QR code on networking cards and the “leave behind” materials; taking the reader directly to the job seekers web page resume that we’ve created and stored online.
    http://www.janecos.com

  12. Ted Grigg says:

    I see QR codes as essentially the link between print and electronic media.
    The essential parts include a smart phone with a camera and an advertiser who provides access to a QR code.
    The largest opportunity in the short term are couponers who make their coupons, discounts and special promotions available as QR codes. These codes can be stored by the customer’s smart phone and read instantly by the store’s POS system for immediate redemption.
    For the customer, these electronic coupons are easier to save and organize than paper coupons. And the advertiser can track the response and sales by promotion more accurately and immediately.
    The next step is to get the QR codes to append customer information so all sales can now be tracked by customer for more targeted promotions. But to my knowledge, the technology for this does not exist at this point.

  13. Thanks for posting about this. We are just starting to review QR codes so this is very timely.

  14. RRP Video says:

    I started using QR codes years ago on my old Trio phone. It was handy as trying long URL’s into a phone can be a tasks at times.
    The QR codes were on the screen and if you went to the site on your PC, you could take a photo on your phone and go to the page and start your download.
    These could come in handy in emails as well as in the store for coupons and exclusive specials.
    The more contact options a company has, the better.

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