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Francis Santos

QR Codes: What They Are & How to Use Them in Your Online Marketing

Oct 20 2011, 07:15 PM by

The rapid evolution of technology can be overwhelming for a marketer, but if you understand the importance of maintaining a certain level of competitiveness, then you know how essential it is to stay on top of the latest trends. In this post I would like to talk to you about Quick Response (QR) codes, which are not as complex as they may sound, and have major marketing potential that could make them quite useful.
Background Briefing
QR codes are imported from Japan, from which they originated more than 10 years ago. To be exact, they were created by Toyota’s Denso Wave, who instead of exercising its patent rights, chose to wave them so they could be used freely by everyone. Take a close look and you will see that a QR code looks a lot like a bar code. It can also be scanned like one, but that is really where the similarities end. Instead of reading with a scanner similar to those used in a retail store, a QR code is scanned by a smartphone. It is the smartphone element that gives these strange looking 2D codes so much potential from a marketing perspective.

Outside of the smartphone aspect, the main factor that separates QR codes from bar codes is all in the vast information they are capable of storing. A given code may point a smartphone user to a video, image or a web page. All it takes is a quick scan for a customer or prospect to be connected with whatever content you have in store for them online. Furthermore, QR codes are super simple to create thanks to the growing number of free, web-based generators available online. Overall, they are a comprehensive and convenient technology that offers benefits to both the marketer and the smartphone toting consumer.
Using QR Code for Business Gain
Although they are a relatively new trend, at least in the states, QR codes have already shown us that they have a countless number of potential uses. We are currently seeing brands use them on everything from business cards to bottles of wine, and as the trend continues to grow, we will no doubt see even more useful applications. Check out these tips on how you can start using QR codes in your marketing strategy:

Put Print Media to Work - QR codes go great on business cards, but that is not the only viable form of print media you they can accentuate. Your direct mail pieces, event flyers and local newspaper ads are primed for scanning. Marketing via print is still highly effective, so an approach like this could be key in forming the bridge between the physical and digital channels.

Grow Your Social Following - The great thing about QR codes is their versatility. You can send people to your website, or anywhere online. It could be the social network where fans come to discuss everything related to your brand. This is a powerful way to start making connections with your offline prospects and really get the engagement game going.

Put ‘Em on Your Stuff - QR codes give you the opportunity to utilize your creativity and go all out with a bit of shameless self promoting (so lest we forget, they're also quite handy to use in your email marketing campaigns). For example, you could print up a couple dozen shirts for staff members who interact with customers, or a couple hundred to give away to customers. The latter could really turn out well if you complement the QR code design with a sort of call to action that prompts spectators to scan your shirts.

Have you jumped on the QR code bandwagon? If so, how are you using them in your business mix?

Posted in Tips & Resources, Online Tools and Applications

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