How to Successfully Implement QR Codes in Your Company’s Marketing
It seems that in just the last few years, some foreign-looking black and white squares have taken over posters in most aspects of consumer life, from corporate campaigns to property listings in local newspapers. They can be placed on nearly any surface that they can be painted, printed, or adhered to. Although these tiny squares may seem intimidating and ineffective, they’re rapidly becoming the next hot marketing tool in a world that’s rapidly going digital.
QR Codes, or Quick Response Codes, were created in 1994 as a more convenient and data dense solution for scanners. Here are the top five things you should know about them:
What are they?
QR Codes are nothing more than a more effective and efficient bar code. While most barcodes are one-dimensional and store data in one direction (horizontally), QR Codes are 2D and can be scanned either vertically or horizontally. QR Codes aren’t the only type of 2D barcode—DataMatrix, Microsoft Tag, and ScanLife EZcode join the ranks of this innovative advertising format. But much like the “Band-Aid” or “Kleenex”, it has become the name used to refer to all 2D barcodes. QR Codes (as well as DataMatrix codes) are also the most widely used, as Microsoft Tag and ScanLife EZcode can only be decoded by tools from those companies.
Unfortunately for many, QR Codes can only be scanned by owners of smart phones with a corresponding app (see the next point below). Luckily, a recent report by Nielsen Mobile Insights has found that, as of February 2012, 50% of all U.S. mobile phone owners have a smart phone—a 10% increase in the last year alone.
To make non-smart phone users a part of the experience (and to provide a back up if the code won’t scan), you should always include a hyperlink or an SMS service on promotions.
The software to read as well as (most of) the software to create QR Codes is completely free. Which website and format you choose to generate a QR will quickly determine who your marketing target is, and even how successful your QR Code promotion will be.
QR Code Readers:
- RedLaser: reads QR, UPC/EAN
- Bee TaggReader: reads QR, DataMatrix, Bee Tagg
- AT&T Code Reader: reads QR, DataMatrix, UPC/EAN
- ScanLife: EZCode, QR, DataMatrix, UPC/EAN; no other apps can detect an EZCode
- Microsoft Tag: only reads Tag codes
QR Code Generators
- Kaywa: allows you to customize your design for free, codes can be created to link to phone numbers, a web page, SMS, or text. A paid version allows you to track a code’s success.
- Microsoft Tag: gives you the ability to have a colored QR code, free service, even a limited analysis of code metrics. An account is required to create the code, and the code you create can only be scanned by a phone with the Tag app.
- QRstuff.com: free to customize, codes can link to websites, Youtube videos, Google Maps, social media sites (i.e. Twitter and Facebook), iTunes, plain text, a Skype call, email, contact information, an event, Wifi login, and even a Paypal buy now link.
There are a myriad of different types of QR Code generating websites, but the site that you use is completely dependent upon the target market, the kind of data that you want to store, and the code format that you want to use.
Tips for a Successful Campaign
- Make sure that your barcode can be scanned easily and your content can be loaded quickly—most smart phones with a camera resolution less than four megapixels cannot scan a code that is less than an inch in size. QR Codes with more information stored in them require a larger size and often more complicated design, which can make scanning the codes a long and complicated process.
- If you’re unsure about what you’re doing, or how you can make a QR Code wok for your company, mobile barcode marketing professionals can get your promotion on the track toward success.
- Tools to track the progress of your 2D barcode campaign are relatively inexpensive, and some are even free. Some of these tools will report the geolocation, repeat scans, and the demographics, while other programs will simply report the number of scans. Popular management programs include ScanLife, Microsoft Tag, QReateBUZZ, BeQRious, Paperlinks, Tappin, and SPARQCode.
Good luck with your forays into this innovative and useful new marketing tool!
This blog entry was posted by Sarah Schwitters, Chief Marketing Strategist at lodestar marketing group. We hope that this article was able to clarify your questions about these smart little squares. If you’re still stumped by these matrix codes, we’re here for you. lodestar marketing group specializes in digital marketing, and we’d love to partner with your business to skyrocket your success. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.