In my ongoing quest to learn all I can about using QR Codes, I attended the Maine Marketing Association’s lunch & learn on QR Codes in Marketing today.
While I plan on writing a more in-depth piece on QR Code marketing soon, I wanted to get out some initial information that I felt would be helpful.
What is a QR Code?
A QR (Quick Response) Code is a 2D barcode that can be read by special software on a camera phone, usually as a free download on a smart phone. Just search for “QR scanner” in the iTunes or Droid app store.
Depending on your QR code reader, once scanned you’ll be redirected to a web page, call a phone number, see a message, or other action. (I can only imagine the merry prankster who will love this “what’s behind door number one” app.)
According to Joe Rosenfield of Edison Press, who presented, a QR code can contain a URL, calendar event, contact info (such as a vCard), email address, SMS text message, and even geolocation information. How these are handled may depend on the QR scanner you use. (I use QR App.)
So, as a marketer, you could use QR codes in printed pieces, posters, or even digitally to drive someone to a website. (Although, if you’re using it on a website or email newsletter, I’m not sure that a clickable link wouldn’t be easier and more obvious.)
How do I generate a QR Code?
Luckily, generating a QR code is free. There are plenty of websites that will do it for you; I used Kaywa to create the codes on this page.
How many people use QR Codes?
At this point in early 2011, most people wouldn’t know a QR code from a barcode. Most aren’t even QR qrious. (snicker)
However, QR codes have been spotted on everything from buildings to business cards, wine bottles to Tide bottles, and even as tattoos. This graph from Google Insights shows the surge in searches for “QR Codes”:
In other words, it has the potential of going mainstream, especially with the growth of smart phones which have both cameras (required for scanning the code) and Internet capability.
Like most marketing and advertising, there are going to be businesses and industries better suited than others to take advantage of this. As I mentioned before, why have a QR code on your site when a link is easier to create and offers a much better user experience?
However, for promoting events through print media (newspapers, magazines, direct mail, posters, billboards, business cards, etc.) QR codes offer a way for non-digital products and services to leverage the internet and mobile marketing all at the same time.