Using QR Codes to Expand Your Business Reach

Judy VedderInternet Marketing

You may have seen those funny little barcode boxes – on a product package, in a magazine ad, or on a “for sale” sign in front of a house – and wondered what they were for.

They’re called QR or Quick-Response codes because they can be quickly read by a SmartPhone. They’ve only been in the U.S. for a couple of years, but are quite popular in Japan where they originated.

QR codes are now rapidly gaining in popularity here in the United States due to their ability to give readers immediate access to pertinent information. Two-dimensional and able to hold thousands of alphanumeric characters, they can share a far greater amount of data than traditional bar codes, which are one-dimensional and are typically used only to track inventory.

Here’s how it works: a manufacturer or business owner uses an app to generate a QR code and then posts it wherever it might best reach his or her target audience. Consumers use their SmartPhone to scan/read the code, which connects their mobile device to the Internet and links to the intended digital content (or activates other phone functions like email, phone, or text messaging).

Many business owners find value in using QR codes as part of their marketing plan because they can drive more online traffic from alternate sources. Additionally, there are analytics available, so traffic can be measured.

What to Share

There’s no end to the kind of content you can link to via a QR code. But here are a few commonly used items:

  • Landing page
  • “Like” button for your FB page
  • Call-to-action page Customer feedback forms
  • Video
  • Popular blog posts
  • Installation instructions
  • Music clips/free downloads
  • Coupons/special offers
  • Images
  • Directions
  • E-book

Where to Share

QR codes are typically used in print or off-line mediums to drive traffic to your web site. Here are some common examples of where you might find a QR code in use:

  • Real estate signs
  • Business cards
  • Tradeshow tables
  • Product packaging or tags
  • Print/magazine ads
  • Brochures/flyers/posters
  • POS receipts
  • Billboards
  • T-shirts
  • Restaurant menus
  • Nametags
  • Event ticket stubs
  • Digital airplane boarding passes

How to Start

First you need to create the digital content that the QR code will link to, such as a coupon offer on your web site or Facebook page. Then you generate a QR code to link to that content. It takes only a matter of seconds to generate a QR code. You can google “QR code generators” and select from any number of available free apps that appear. (Some of the more popular choices are Kaywa or Kerem Erkan.)

In order to “interpret” the QR code, you need to download a QR code scanner on your smartphone. There are numerous QR code readers you can download on your phone, including the popular i-nigma or Barcode Scanner (for Droid) apps.