Break Out Your Decoder Ring: QR Codes Cracked
You may have noticed funky looking square black and white bar codes showing up all over the place and been wondering what they are. They're called Quick Response (QR) codes which are two-dimensional bar codes that can store larger amounts of data than traditional bar codes. They were originally developed in 1994 for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing - so they aren't new, but what makes them exciting today are the innovative ways they are being used.
Since the development of a number of applications that can turn a Smartphone into a QR reader by utilizing the phone's camera, QR codes have started to gain popularity in the form of marketing campaigns and promotions. Data such as URL's, text, or vCards can be embedded into a QR code. Codes can be located on almost anything with a flat surface that can be easily photographed like advertisements, billboards, business cards, or clothing. You can try out the QR code that we made for this newsletter by simply downloading a QR barcode reader from your app store and then scanning it. This direct connection from physical to digital is inspiring companies to interactively market to their audiences in new and creative ways.
'The opportunity is great to move people from one world [print] to the other [online], and also to move people further down the purchase decision path,' said Roger Marquis, founder of 2D Barcode Strategy, in a recent article in BtoB Magazine. 'You're taking a pure prospect and inching them ever closer to becoming an actual client.'
- Creating a QR code for business cards that can be scanned to download a vCard
- Placing a QR code on a company t-shirt at an event that enters the scanner into a give-away
- Online forms/applications that automatically generate QR codes
- Posters with a QR code that directs the scanner to a mobile website for a free download of a musicians song
- Incorporating a QR code on an in-store advertisement that links to a promotional Facebook page featuring a coupon or special offer
QR codes have been popular in places like Japan for several years and now, even large consumer brands like McDonald's are incorporating them into their everyday packaging. These codes are gaining momentum because of the real time digital interaction that they provide. QR codes are primarily used with mobile devices which strengthens a user's need for instant connection and information that mirrors mobile web browsing.
These codes are easy for anyone to generate. The tricky part is making sure that you have a pathway, such as an mDot, for a user to follow. You can try generating your own code at places like http://qrcode.kaywa.com/. If you already use Google or bit.ly to shorten and track URL's, simply type .qr after the shortened address they provide to be taken to an automatically generated QR code.