Getting Started with QR Codes
A Quick Response (QR) code is a type of two-dimensional bar code that can be scanned by smartphone cameras to automatically pull up text, photos, videos, music and URLs. These codes are quickly becoming mobile-friendly ways to point people in the offline space to online resources, available via a smart phone Web browser.
While already popular in Japan and other foreign countries, consumers and marketers in the United States are just now beginning to take advantage of QR codes and what to do with them. If you're unfamiliar with the business potential of QR codes, this article should serve as a way to familiarize yourself with the technology.
QR Code Generators and Scanners
A quick search for "QR code generator" is all it takes to find a number of places you can go to generate your own QR codes. Consider starting with three leaders in QR code generation: iCandy, Kaywa or Stickybits.
Kaywa's QR code generator is the simplest way to generate a QR code for a URL, text, phone number or SMS. Simply select your preference, enter the content, specify size and click "Generate." Then, save the code to use elsewhere or grab the HTML to embed it online.
iCandy is more robust and allows you track scans and look at analytics around generated QR codes. You can also print codes through partner services.
Stickybits is slightly different in purpose, but the service also makes it simple to create stickers for your codes, as well as inspire collective content creation from people who scan your codes.
On the scanner side of things, apps that can scan codes are available for most smartphones. Simply search your app store for "barcode reader," or "QR code scanner," and you'll find several to choose from.
On the iPhone, options include QuickMark and Optiscan. On Android, Barcode Scanner is a popular QR code reader.
Put QR Codes to Work in Your Marketing Efforts
Here are a few ways that you can use QR codes to inexpensively augment your small business marketing strategies.
Things to Remember
If you're going to use QR codes for small business marketing, you'll want to keep in mind that QR codes and the apps that scan them are still foreign to most people.
Yes, more and more people are starting to associate the codes with action, but never assume your customers will know what to do. Make it a point to spell out how to scan the QR code, and help instruct customers on where they can grab scanner apps.
Remember that QR codes should provide some kind of value to the individual. It may be easiest to direct QR code scanners to your website, but that may not be the most satisfying place to send people.
Does your small business use QR codes? If so, how are you using them? And if not, what are the uses might fit your marketing efforts?
Thanks to Wikipedia and Mashable for insight into using QR codes.