Hands up how many people know what a QR code is…1…2…maybe even 3 of you (at a push!). Not to worry, you're in luck! I'm here to tell you all about them and I promise you, you'll be more than impressed with what they're capable of by the end of this blog.
If I show you what a QR code looks like (that's one to the right of this text), a few more of you might recognise the format but I'd guess most won't know what they are and how they work.
Go on then, tell us what QR codes are…
QR codes (otherwise known as 'Quick Response' codes or 2D barcodes), were first introduced in the mid-90's by a company called Denso-Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota. They were designed to allow their contents to be decoded at high speed, and the technology has since been used rather frequently in Japan, the Netherlands and South Korea. Unfortunately, the rest of the world has been a little slower with the uptake - hence why very few of you held your hands up a few seconds ago.
…And how are QR codes used?
As mobile technology evolves, and smart-phone devices become even more common place, mobile marketing will become a frequently used means of putting businesses in touch with potential customers. Of course, within this field, there are a plethora of options available, stretching from text message marketing to location-based services, but QR codes will also have huge benefits to business.
If you've got a smart-phone, you can download a number of free apps which allow you to read QR codes. These apps will decipher the codes and then carry out the action which sits behind the code itself.
QR codes can be used to carry out a number of actions - from taking users through to a specific web address, to sending a text or making a call. With these 3 basic functions, so much can be done by using QR codes.
Lets have a few examples shall we?
As a design agency who specialises in online marketing, we do a great deal of work on Facebook and Twitter. The QR code shown to the right, will take users through to our Facebook 'Welcome Page', encouraging them to 'Like' our page, thus building our core group of followers. You could also take this a stage further by integrating the web script the QR code sends users to, with the Facebook API in order to automatically 'Like' our page.
The QR code shown to the left is also rather useful! By clicking on it, you'll be taken to Twitter and with a click of the button, you can retweet this blog article to all of your followers…(go on…give it a whirl! ;p)
So where does this leave us?
Well, as you can see, there are a few pretty interesting applications where QR codes could be used online, but in the majority of cases, a simple text link could carry out the exact same function in an easier and more conventional way.
All is not lost for QR codes however, as offline media lends itself to them rather nicely.
We see web addresses in printed media all of the time these days, and sometimes, you really have to focus on how the URL is spelt and whether it's a .com, .co.uk, .org or .biz! Particularly if the URL is long, remembering it for later is a little difficult. I also find it really annoying to try and type in long web addresses on smart phone keypads - you can guarantee I'll get at least 2 or 3 letters in the wrong place. QR codes solve all these problems.
Rather than putting just a web address on your offline media and shopfront, why not also include a QR code which takes your customers/passers-by directly to your website? There's no need for them to decipher the web address, and type it into their mobile browsers - they just need to scan the code.
The benefits of interacting with your customers in such a way are numerous. Can you imagine giving customers access to QR codes entitling them to online offers? They'd be over the moon - as will you when you realise that these codes are trackable, meaning you can monitor just how well your marketing campaigns perform!
So, enough from me. I just think it's about time we embraced what the Japanese have been doing for years!
See, I told you you'd be impressed!