What is a QR Code?

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qrcode for the Hall BlogHave you seen these crazy looking things? They look like an empty crossword puzzle and they keep popping up all over the place.

These are QR (Quick Response) codes. Popular in Japan, they are quickly making an impression in the United States. With your smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry etc.) you can download an application and scan the box and receive more information about a topic or article. Each box brings you to either a website URL, phone number or text. QR codes are not only ‘way super cool’ but they are a neat way to integrate more of your marketing efforts.

How do you scan or read them?

You will need a smartphone with a camera or scanner or a webcam, internet access and a QR code reading software or program. I am currently using the i-nigma app for my iPhone but there are plenty of others like ScanLife, Kaywa and many more. Once you have the reader installed you can just scan the QR code by taking a picture with your camera or scanning app on your smartphone. Once you have scanned it you will be brought right to the text or website included in the code.

What people are using them for

People are using QR codes for lots of marketing efforts. They are easy to create with sites like QR – Generator, Create QR code, QReate and Track and many more.

Here is a list of a few things businesses are using QR codes for:

  • Integrating Marketing Efforts – To get a measurable return from print advertising, companies are including QR codes in their print ad to go to specific landing pages on their website to get more information about the products and offers in that particular ad.
  • As Business Cards – At a recent conference I attended each attendee had a unique QR code on their conference badge. Instead of swapping business cards you could scan attendees badges and have all of their information at your fingertips.
  • Private links to more information – Print magazines, blogs and websites are using QR codes as private links to very targeted entries with more information. If you are reading an article about eating healthy there could be a QR code for 100 items to add to your shopping list for better eating. QR codes are making print more interactive.
  • “Secret Messages” – Like in a Christmas Story when Ralphie uses his Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring, businesses can use their QR codes for secret planted messages and teasers. In the Lost Finale (in select markets) during a commercial for True Blood, a QR code flashed across the screen. It happened so quickly that only those who had DVRed the show would be able to scan it. The QR code brought you to a secret preview of the next season. This was perfect targeting for these two unique audiences who love solving puzzles.
  • To send traffic to their Google Local Listing – As you may or may not know, every business that registers with Google has the option to have a free Google Places listing. In that listing you can add photos of your business, more information and even select online coupons. Google and business are using QR codes to direct traffic to those free listings. Google is sending businesses QR codes to put in their windows and promote the Google Places listing.
  • Discounts and Coupons – Businesses can easily add links to coupons and discounts in a QR code.
  • Real Estate Listings – See a house or office space you want more information on? Scan the QR code on the For Lease sign or handout and be brought right to the online listing for that piece of property.
  • Payment and Event Entry – Companies like Starbucks have been using QR codes as payment, an alternative to swiping customers Starbucks cards. Live Nation has experimented with using QR codes instead of paper tickets to various shows and events.

That is a list of just a few things I have seen QR codes used for. As you can imagine, more ways to incorporate them are being created each day. They are interesting and I enjoy seeing how people are finding a use for them. If you have any interesting examples you would like to share, please do!