How QR Codes Can Help You Grow Your Business
2011 was going to be the year that Quick Response Codes (QR codes) were going to take over the world.
On the face of it the revolution has not yet taken hold but it’s likely that their widespread acceptance and use has been delayed rather than abandoned -certainly in our view because with creative thinking QR codes can be a helpful and inexpensive tool to many businesses, small and large.
Possibly one reason for the delay in acceptance was the rumour of QR code viruses that spread in the middle of the year but it’s now accepted that QR codes themselves cannot be viruses and so this potential threat has passed.
What are QR Codes?
For those not yet familiar, QR codes are similar to barcodes used by retailers to track stock and price items at the point of sale.
The key difference between QR codes and barcodes is the amount of data they can hold. One-dimensional bar
codes only hold up to 20 numerical digits whereas QR codes, which are two-dimensional, can hold thousands of alpha numeric characters of information.
As a result QR Codes can store website URLs, plain text, phone numbers, email addresses and pretty much any other alphanumeric data.
It’s the potential for sheer volume of information coupled with their ease of use that makes QR codes so exciting.
They don't have to be in dull black and white!
How Do QR Codes Work?
First we need to generate your QR Codet.
We can produce QR codes in black and white and colour which we can supply to you at any size you may need and in a wide variety of formats.
In due course all phones will have an inbuilt QR Code reader but this isn’t the case yet.
In the absence of an inbuilt reader you can easily download a reader as an App and again there’s a lot of choice,
I-Nigma is the most popular App for iPhones and Optiscan is also very good.
Android phones can use Barcode Scanner by ZXing which is available on the Android Market.
How Your Can Use QR Codes
Start on the basis that you can send offline traffic to an online resource of your choosing and the uses to which you can put QR Codes are limited only by your imagination.
The obvious starting point for most businesses is either their web home page or a VCard (which is often printed as a code on a business card) and whilst the first use is to me a bit lacking in imagination, the second use is certainly valid as it means your details are more likely to be saved by the recipient.
Going up the scale of originality is to use QR Codes in conjunction with Facebook. You can also use Likify to create a QR Code that links to your Facebook Page and which allows a user to “Like” your page with one click.
Instead of linking QR Codes to a static home page, more imaginative businesses now link to a dynamic page (via a short code so that the target can be changed at will) which can then include a free offer or a coupon, both combined with email opt-ins to build a list.
Some Practical Uses For QR Codes
Here’s a few examples:
- Directions to your business premises
- A VCard with your business contact details
- Coupons and special offers
- Restaurant menus
- Free downloads
- Customer feedback forms
- Other places for feedback (e.g. Google Places)
- Instructions (e.g. how to put a product together)
- Property details (e.g. on an Estate Agent or Rental agent board)
- Sign up for newsletter
- Other product information (e.g. codes on wine bottles to tell purchasers more about the wine)
- Your own business App download (or any other App)
- Reasons to come back!
- Digital boarding cards
- Link to fund raising pages
- On car windscreens in dealerships with further details of the car
Remember that if you’re directing to a web page then that page should be mobile optimised and have a strong call to action. If it isn’t you’re wasting a huge opportunity…
The Future For QR Codes
The potential for QR Codes is unlimited.
At present as far as I can see the two things that are holding them back from catching on even faster are ignorance and the
It's a great part of the world too...
fact that downloading a reader is a bit complicated. So anything you can do to help to educate in these areas will help.
What’s most exciting is how QR Codes take the elements that social media is doing well – i.e. bringing people together with technology – and extending it to enhance the experience and in due course to make it easier.