What are QR Codes (abbreviated from Quick Response Code)?
We see them every where, advertising posters, real estate signs, magazines and many more places. QR codes started being used in the automobile industry and quickly become popular outside the industry due to its fast readability and large storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. In most cases you see them as black and white, but they don't have to be like that. What it needs is high contrast so the scanner can read it, but any colour will work with it. No need to mess with the nice design work of an ad by plastering the ugly QR code on the corner.
How to use them?
Today the main purpose is to add more information or a call to action by directing the user to a website (and please let it be mobile formatted one), where more information is offered.
Best thing about sending the person to a website landing page is that you can track the scans for that particular QR Code. You can see if one QR code is working better than others.
Here is an article on how to do it: http://www.qrstuff.com/blog/2011/05/01/using-google-analytics-with-qr-codes
Here’s a list of features that QR-code readers are generally equipped with:
- Displaying text
- Setting up system alerts
- Adding events to calendars
- Opening URLs in a browser
- Collecting contact information (including vCards)
- Sending email
- Sending text messages (SMS)
- Calling other phones
- Connecting to Wi-Fi hotspot
- Do a like on a Facebook Page
Browser have been able to launch and load email clients by just clicking on a email link for years now. With smarphones there is a whole bunch of things you can do combining QR codes with URI Schemes (Uniform Resource Identifier).
More on URI schemes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URI_scheme
Here’s a list of some cool things that are possible:
- Launching native Apple apps (Mail, Phone, FaceTime, Text, Map, YouTube and iTunes)
- Opening certain IM clients (Skype, AIM, MSN, GTalk, ICQ and Yahoo)
- Opening special applications (IRC tools, feed readers, FTP clients and SVN repositories)
- Opening any application that registers a URI scheme when it installs on a platform
What makes this particular technique so amazing is that it doesn’t rely on the QR-code reader being very advanced; all it needs is for the app creator (be it Skype, Evernote or Angry Birds) you want to launch and interface with to use the system development API to register a URI scheme.
Who should use them?
Any business having a print ad campaign can enhance the ads by providing more meaningful information on the product or service. For example real estate sign in front of the house for sale is an excellent case for a QR Code. Now by scanning the QR Code on the for sale sign the person is able to find more about the property by landing on the property detail page the agent prepared in advance. Retailers could add the code on the product display to instructional video of the product they are looking to purchase, and the list goes on.
Are they a Fad?
There are lot of people saying they are because:
- They are ugly
True but they don't have to be. They only need high contrast on any colour.
- You need a QR code app to read them
This is correct, but so does everything you want to do with your phone. It is not a big thing to ask a user to download the app to scan the QR code.
- There are too many apps for sanding QR codes
When QR codes become more popular phones will come with QR code scanners in their OS. Just like Apple added the Twitter to iOS 5.
- Loading the website takes too long.
It is just a matter of time when Web access for mobiles becomes faster; G4 anyone?
Just like with any other new technology there is a potential to reach out and give your audience more than just an ad. There are good cases for both B2C and B2B businesses for using QR Codes on their print material. Just make sure the experience is something the user expects, if it is a lading page on your website or blog make sure it is mobile optimized and track the scans, otherwise you cannot know if they are succesful.
Why a mobile website is important for your business
Why are mobile ads not linking to mobile sites?
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