You’ve probably heard about QR codes recently and wondered what the benefits are and how to incorporate them into your marketing mix. Whether you believe they are here to stay or predict they’ll have a relatively short life span, this innovative technology is free, useful, and adds a powerful message to your digital communications.
QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are an encoded barcode image resembling a square-like maze. These 2-dimensional barcodes store data in two directions and can be scanned vertically or horizontally to be decoded. Consumers scan these codes using mobile devices, and a barcode reader application decodes the image to reveal content to the consumer.
In a recent meeting, my client suggested using a traditional barcode for a promotional item she wanted to make available. It was then that I realized while I understood how QR codes are effective marketing tools, I didn’t quite comprehend the difference between the emerging technology available in QR codes and traditional barcodes. After a little digging, however, I learned the distinction and what makes QR codes more powerful and effective for technology marketing over traditional barcode techniques.
A traditional barcode is 1-dimensional and is resembled by the familiar code found on product packaging, also known as the UPC symbol retailers ask you to cut out and mail in for rebates. Barcodes are limited, however, in that they can only store a maximum of 30 numbers. A QR code, on the other hand, can store over 7,000 data points which include numbers, text, SMS/MMS messages, emails, and other embedded text. Not only can QR codes store a large amount of data and in many forms, they can be placed anywhere a marketer wishes – billboards, real estate signage, sales collateral, and products themselves. Marketers are able to generate unique URL’s that track consumer statistics such as demographics, geo-location, and mobile devices usage which helps in creating and optimizing targeted messaging to prospects and customers.
The good news is that QR code generation and reading programs are free (or have a very minimal cost) and are simple to use. One QR code generation program that we’ve used in the past is QR Stuff.com, which provides an efficient way to create a QR code on-the-fly. For barcode reader applications, we like Optiscan (iOS) and I-Nigma (compatible with iOS, Android & BlackBerry).
If you are considering adding QR codes to your marketing mix, we highly recommend working with an Internet marketing provider who can help set up campaigns that lead to conversions. Taking the time to come up with a strategy and related content ensures adding QR codes to your collateral and/or products adds benefit to your marketing efforts. QR codes are a simple, affordable, and fun way to market your products and services while staying cutting edge and green in the process!
QR code process diagram: credit and thanks to Angie Schottmuller at www.searchenginewatch.com.