We see them everywhere - that funny looking square-like maze. It's on business cards, direct mailer, advertisements and even at the side of a bottle, just waiting to be decoded. But what exactly is a QR code? What is it for? As smart phone becomes a daily necessity for everyone, more businesses are using QR Codes as part of their marketing communications. This article addresses just that and from what a QR code is and how small businesses can leverage on this little wonder.
Short for quick response, the QR code is a 2-dimensional barcode that stores data and can be scanned both vertically and horizontally with a smart phone. The QR code can store a variety of data beyond numbers like web addresses and contact information.
You need a 2D barcode reader app in your phoneto decode the encoded data in the QR code. Usually, the 2D reader is available on your mobile app store for free. It's easy to scan a code, take out your phone, open the app and then scan the QR code, wait for the app to decode and it will redirect you the content encrypted inside. It's that simple.
Picture source: http://blog.avivo.si/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/How-to-scan-qr-code.png
Typically, the QR code is used to bridge the gap between offline to going online. It's a shortcut to information that drives your customer to your website, a video or map directions to your retail store.
The content of the code should provide a special value for your consumer like rewards, discounts, exclusive limited edition content, useful tips or sneak peeks. There is also QR code that serves as contact information like vCard and meCard, so users can scan and directly save your contact information straight in their phone.
One of its wonder is that this 2D barcode can be placed in and on nearly any location (as long as it is not on a reflective material). Be it on newspapers, the computer screen, billboards, packaging, cake frosting and more, it enables you to drive traffic, interaction and conversion from anywhere around the world. Think of it as bringing the non-digital medium to life, as to enhance the user experience. But remember to really think of its purpose, what the hyperlink can extend to. If a user could click the hyperlink, why give them the trouble of scanning it to complete the same task?
The QR code includes tracking analytics that could track the number of scans while other tools provide detailed demographics of the scanner. Some data may vary where it depends on the reader app used for scanning. Some of these management tools are inexpensive to purchase while others are offered for free.
Now, the QR codes can easily be customized to reflect your brand. You could try and design them yourself or you could connect with QR art experts at QRarts.com or Delivr.com. The Microsoft Tag also allows artistic expression. Their custom tag tool allows users to generate art from codes or overlay codes on top of photographs.
(Caption: QR Code)
Picture Source: http://www.coroflot.com/wuyuankai/graphic-design/9
For more ideas on how you can use the QR codes, here's a video on how Tesco in South Korea uses the QR code.