They seem to be popping up everywhere these days. Those small squares of black and white pixels located on websites, in magazines, on product packages, and even on informational signs. They are Quick Response codes and are more commonly called "QR Codes". QR codes are a two-dimensional bar code first created in 1994, but only recently have they become common in the public sector. They are designed to hold up to 4,296 characters of information and can be quickly decoded by a scanner; even with a relatively low quality camera. In fact, the technology makes it a perfect platform for storing URLs that can be easily read by cell phones and computers. With the explosion of smartphones, especially Android phones and the iPhone, QR codes have become the new standard for converting print media readers into web visits as well as transitioning web visits into mobile applications.
From one-off promotions to a quick link to a company website, all types of industries have embraced "QR Codes" within their advertising strategy. As an example of a successful QR strategy we've recently seen implemented, a municipality embraced the technology as an instant link to a customer's most recent utility bill.
For advertisers, one of the best reasons to use QR codes is the level of curiosity and engagement that can be created with a customer. First and foremost, putting a QR code on some marketing collateral, combined with some crafty marketing language, can create quite a level of curiosity with a consumer as to what the QR code will expose. Another benefit of using QR codes is to save space. With a small QR code strategically placed, a piece of print material or a web page can be purely marketing focused, organized, and succinct, and yet when the QR code is scanned, more engaging and interactive information can be exposed such as videos, giveaways, or special promotions. For customers, the benefit to some degree can be as simple as the adventure and involvement of technology in the quest for a prize.
Most smartphones are either preloaded with a QR reader or can be used via a plethora of QR reading apps. As QR codes grow more popular, end users are becoming increasingly comfortable with how QR codes work, such that, many smartphone users already have a QR reader installed. In the near term, QR codes are likely to become a must have in all print media as users will be less willing to type hyperlinks on their smaller smartphone keyboards. Thus, the spread in popularity creates the necessity for businesses to consider QR technology as part of their overall marketing plan.
QR codes can be generated automatically using one of several popular services. From that, an image is created, and the image can be built into newsletters, web pages, etc. allowing printed media to be linked back to its source or to other promotional web pages. QR codes can also be created manually for more personalized uses of the technology. For example, CyberSense designers can integrate a company's logo right into the QR code itself so that promotions maintain a company's branding.
In actuality, QR codes are a fairly simple concept with the potential for a big impact. So the next time you prepare a newsletter, print campaign, or want to push visitors from a website to a mobile device, try a QR code strategy. If you need help or advice, we're always here to provide guidance, design a campaign, and/or ensure that the proper tracking and reporting is in place.