QR Codes – How They Work and What You Can Do with Them.
QR codes. You’ll have seen them everywhere, on business cards, posters, shop windows, product packaging, but what are they? How can they help us? How can we get them?
What can QR Codes Be Used For?
Here are some ways you might use QR codes:
* Include your electronic business card (vCard)
* Have customers fill in satisfaction surveys on their phones
* Competition entries
* Automatically add your event to someone’s calendar
* Have an electronic RSVP on invitation letters or cards
* Direct smartphone users to “how to use” youtube videos – to watch on the phone
* Use a coupon to encourage visitors to visit your business
* Follow on Twitter
* Create electronic queuing tickets at your service counter.
What are QR codes?
QR codes are the pattern of dots at the top of this article. It’s a form of 2D barcode that can store a wide range of information. Because QR codes can contain thousands of characters of data, it’s really easy to encode a website URL and other things that you don’t have space in with a standard barcode.
QR codes have been around since 1994 when Denso in Japan developed them. Slowly they’re appearing more and more – even our home internet router has a QR code on it (scan it and it enters the password into your phone).
To read a QR code, you need a special barcode scanner or camera. Smartphone cameras are able to read them, though in many cases you may need to download an app. There are lots of free QR readers available for iPhone or Android.
When you scan a QR code, your phone’s browser goes directly to the website (or adds a person’s contact details or starts playing an instruction video or what ever else the QR code says).
What’s exciting is that you can create your own QR codes for free and very easily. Go on and use them to create QR codes for business cards, birthday invitations or posters. Phone us now and have us make up QR codes labels to go on your products, taking your clients to a ‘how to use’ video on Youtube.
How do you create QR codes?
It’s easier than you might have thought.
Here’s how to include a QR code in your brochures, flyers, posters, business cards, mailings, wedding invitation, product labels (it doesn’t have to be promotional material). The code doesn’t even have to be in hard copy – it can just as easily be a digital image to display on a phone screen.
First – visit one of the many free online QR-code generators on the web that allow you to produce your own codes.
Try www.qrstuff.com/ for starters. It’s very easy to use and it’s free. From the homepage, choose what you want to encode in the code. Choose from a straightforward web address to phone numbers or calendar entries. I’ve used a map as an example in this QR code to the left (scan it and see). Choose a colour and hit the download QR code button. Your QR code is available to download it as an image file for offline use or to include on an email or webpage like this one.
Download the image file you create and use it as a graphic in your work and you’re up and running in five minutes.
We’ve seen QR codes used to send customers to a special-offer page on a website, online maps directing them to a location or to encourage people to attend an in-store promotion where their code will entitle them to a discount. The possibilities are endless.
How do I scan QR Codes?
Reading a QR code is also simple, as long as you have a smartphone. You’ll need to install one of the many free QR code scanning apps that are available online. I use QR Reader (which enables you to create QR codes on your phone) but QR Code Reader is easy to use as well. Most are free from your app store.
In addition to smart phones, we supply a range of 2D barcode readers that will scan QR codes. Email me at email@example.com if you want to know more.
There are a few things you can do with QR codes to make them more powerful. Including Google Analytics tracking codes will tell Google Analytics where that visitor came from – even down to an individual individual poster. You can use URL shortners such as Bit.ly to make your code shorter. Shortners re-direct visitors to your website but at the same time record when the QR code was scanned. The benefit here is that you can change where the URL shortner takes you. You can also easily track how many people are scanning your QR code.
Start using QR codes today
1. Go to www.QRStuff.com and make a QR code that sends visitors to a contact us page on your website.
2. Print it onto labels
3. Stick the labels onto your business card
4. If you want to see how many people scan the QR code, create a bit.ly account. Create a bit.ly url that points to your contact us page and take that bit.ly url and encode it into your QR code. Check back to your bit.ly account from time to time to see how many scans your code gets.
Try scanning the red QR code above. As always, I’d love to hear your stories about your barcode experiences and if you need help with selecting QR-code scanners or label printers, please contact us. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01359 271 111 for more information.