For those of you that don’t know, a QR code is a quick response code that is primarily used to direct people to a particular web page. You can use any number of sites to generate the code. Most are free; some are paid if you want a fancier looking QR code. But don’t let that QR code stand alone and try to do all the heavy lifting for you. You have to tie a QR code into a marketing campaign to get real results!
QR Code Basics
You provide the content, usually a web page address, and presto, you get a QR code. You can then insert the graphic image of the code on your printed materials or anywhere you choose to.
QR codes are for smartphone users. You have to download a QR code reader app to use the codes. The app takes a picture of the QR code, and directs you to that particular bit of information – it could be a web page, vcard, or some other digital place.
QR codes are used for mobile viewing. If your site is not optimized for mobile viewing, you’re missing the boat. Sure there are some people who embed their QR codes on their website, but that’s not where the value lies for the purposes of this post. Note: you can use your phone to point and click a QR code on a computer screen, it works!
There you have it, QR codes in a nutshell. Now for the tricky part.
Where to point the QR code?
Here’s where the marketing strategy comes into play.
You’re already aware of the short attention spans we have these days. You need to give someone a good reason to click the code.
May I share a tip with you? Do not design your QR code to point to your home page.
The purpose of your QR code is to increase engagement and/or conversion. If you send someone to a general home page, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to share information with someone who is clearly interested in your business. Take them to a specific page that has a clear message or call to action (CTA).
Here are three easy examples for using QR codes, each with a different purpose:
If you have a product for sale, you can use a QR code to point to your featured product, and include a discount specifically for QR code users.
If you’re hosting an event, put a QR code on the event program and have it point to the event’s Facebook page for attendees to post live comments and pics.
If you’re looking for a job, put a QR code on your business card and have it point to your LinkedIn profile or digital resume.
Yes, I happen to use QR codes, that’s one of mine below. If you’re at a computer you can point your phone to your screen and click it. Go ahead, you know you want to.
As you can guess, QR codes give you a huge opportunity to direct people exactly where you want them to go. QR codes are still relatively new (in 2011), so do not assume because you have this code on anything people will understand it or use it. Period. It’s a fun new tool, but it’s still a mystery to many. So if you’re going to use a QR code, have fun with it and make it worth your effort.