A quick lesson on QR codes: what they are and how they’re used
A brief rundown on what QR codes are and how you can use them
The past few years have introduced QR codes into many of our daily lives - though definitely not for the greatest reason.
For those who were fortunate enough to duck and weave around the endless check-ins, though, you might be wondering what they are.
Here’s an example of what they look like:
Short for Quick Response codes, they’re a type of two-dimensional barcode which can contain different kinds of data such as links to websites, coupons and other digitally-linked information.
Their ability to share information contact-free made them very popular during the pandemic, and you can now find them all over the place, from magazines and product packaging to outdoor advertising, social media posts and much more.
There are a growing number of businesses who have begun incorporating them into their marketing mix with incredible success - though only if done in the right ways.
The benefits of using QR codes as a marketing tool
You might be wondering whether it’s worth using QR codes for your business. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of huge advantages to doing so instead of continuing on doing things ‘the way you’ve always done them’.
So if you’ve been considering implementing static and/or dynamic QR codes into your marketing approach, it’s never been a better time to do so because the advantages are plentiful.
Increases engagement opportunities
It’s well known that the more you’re able to engage with your audience, the more sincere and powerful the relationship becomes. QR codes are an absolutely fantastic way to transform your marketing campaign into something much more interactive and engaging.
For example, you might use a QR code in a social post which provides your followers with exclusive access to a competition, video content or something similar.
Enables cross-channel messaging
In the past, advertising through traditional media channels - specifically print and outdoor - meant your message started and stopped on the page or billboard your ad was featured on. This was really quite restrictive for brands looking to tell more of their story.
But now, a print ad, billboard or other type of static traditional media ad can feature a QR code. With this, you can link to a video or other rich media that continues your brand’s messaging long after the page has been turned or they’ve walked past the outdoor ad.
Reduces potential of user error
Let’s face it, entering a URL manually can quite easily lead to user error which will result in a 404 error. And at that moment, the chances are you’ve probably lost their interest.
Protect yourself from these kinds of roadblocks by instead using a QR code which points straight to the URL you want them to visit. This creates a much easier and more seamless experience for your audience, too, which is a great way to increase your brand equity.
Allows for the tracking of important data
Any decent marketing campaign should include plenty of data and analytics that can be used to improve your next campaign and provide you with insights about your audience.
Unlike digital, traditional media generally lacks the ability to track anything - unless you bring QR codes into the fold. There are a few different methods of tracking depending on where you’re pointing the QR code to (website, social media, etc.), through which you can learn things like how many people scanned it, which ad they scanned and when - and in real time!
Chat with us to find out which tracking method will work best for your campaign goals by calling us on [email protected]
Expands your communication capacity
There’s only so much room for information on packaging, in print ads and the like. If you have a real need to offer your audience more information than you can fit in an ad or on a packet, you’re in luck!
Simply offer a QR code that takes them to this expanded amount of information should they wish to read more.
How to create a QR code using our awesome free generator
Now you understand the many different benefits of using QR codes, you’re probably ready to get the ball rolling with our awesome free QR code generator!
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create your very own:
Step 1Scroll to the very top of this page where you’ll see the tool and all its functions.
Step 2Determine the type of new QR code you want to create. Our tool can generate all kinds of different QR codes (email, location, link, phone, SMS, Wi-Fi and more), but for brevity’s sake we’ll run through a link as it’s the most common QR code for businesses.
Step 3Type in or paste the link you want the QR code to lead to in the ‘Link’ field.
Step 4Review each of the graphic formats/rendering options as presented and make appropriate changes wherever necessary.
Step 5As it will be marketing material for commercial usage, we recommend using your company logo. You can do this by clicking the ‘Logo’ icon under the Watermark heading in the options.
Step 6Click the ‘Generate QR Code’ button if it hasn’t generated automatically already.
Step 7The QR code generator will display your unique print quality QR code design which you can then save and use as you wish as a marketing asset.
QR Codes FAQ's
WHAT IS A QR CODE?
A QR code, or Quick Response code, is a type of barcode that can be read quickly by a mobile device’s camera. It’s a two-dimensional code, consisting of black squares arranged on a white background. The information encoded can be text, a URL, or other data.
Originally developed in Japan for tracking automotive parts, QR codes are now commonly used in a variety of applications, including advertising, product labeling, and ticketing. When you scan a QR code using a smartphone, it can lead to a webpage, a video, a social media profile, an app download, or other digital locations.
One of the reasons QR codes are popular is because they can store a lot of information in a small space, and the information can be accessed quickly and easily just by pointing a smartphone camera at the code.
HOW DO I SCAN A QR CODE?
Scanning a QR code is typically a straightforward process, although the exact steps may depend on your device. Here’s a general guide on how to scan a QR code with a smartphone:
On an iPhone:
- Open the Camera app from your device’s Home screen, Control Center, or Lock screen.
- Hold your device so that the QR code appears in the Camera app’s viewfinder. Your device recognizes the QR code and shows a notification.
- Tap the notification to open the link associated with the QR code.
Note: This functionality is available on iPhone and iPad devices running iOS 11 and later.
On an Android device:
Android devices might vary slightly. The newest versions of Android (9 and later) have a QR code scanner built into the camera app. If that’s the case:
- Open the Camera app.
- Position the QR code within the camera viewfinder.
- You should see a URL pop-up. Tap this to follow the link.
If your Android does not have a built-in QR code reader:
- Download a QR code scanner from Google Play Store. There are many free options available such as QR Code Reader and Scanner.
- Open the app and follow the on-screen instructions.
Remember, for all methods, you need to have your camera lens clean and you need to be in a well-lit area for the QR code to be read effectively.
WHERE DID QR CODES ORIGINATE?
QR codes were invented in Japan by the company Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, in 1994. They were originally designed to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, as they can store a large amount of information and can be scanned quickly, which is why they are named Quick Response (QR) codes.
Masahiro Hara, an employee at Denso Wave, is credited with developing the QR code. He needed a system that could encode Kanji (Japanese characters), numbers, and Latin letters, and could be read from any direction at high speed.
Since their introduction, QR codes have expanded far beyond the automotive industry. They are now commonly used worldwide in a variety of applications including social marketing, ticketing, product tracking, and more, due to their ease of use and versatility.
WHAT INFORMATION CAN I PUT IN A QR CODE?
QR codes are quite versatile and can contain a wide range of information. The type of data you can put in a QR code depends on your specific needs, but here are some common types of data that QR codes often contain:
- URLs: This is perhaps the most common use of QR codes. When scanned, the QR code can direct a user to a specific web page. This could be your business’s homepage, a promotional page, a product page, a social media profile, or any other URL.
- Text: You can encode plain text in a QR code. When scanned, this text will be displayed to the user. This could be useful for providing additional information about a product or service.
- Contact Information (vCard): QR codes can contain contact information. When scanned, a user’s device can automatically add this contact information to their address book.
- Email Address: QR codes can initiate an email to a specified email address.
- Phone Number: QR codes can encode a phone number. When scanned, the user’s device can initiate a call to this number.
- SMS: A QR code can initiate an SMS text message to a specified number.
- Wi-Fi Network: QR codes can be used to share Wi-Fi network credentials. When scanned, a device can automatically connect to the specified network.
- Geolocation: QR codes can encode geographic coordinates. When scanned, these coordinates can be displayed on a map on the user’s device.
- Event Details (Calendar): QR codes can contain details of an event (time, date, location, etc.) which can be added to the user’s digital calendar.
- App Store Download: A QR code can link directly to an app download page in an app store, like Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
Remember that the amount of data a QR code can hold depends on its size and complexity. The more data, the denser the QR code will be, which can make it harder to scan if it’s not printed clearly or large enough.
HOW ARE QR CODES DIFFERENT TO STANDARD (LINEAR) BARCODES?
QR codes and standard barcodes (also known as linear or 1D barcodes) are both types of optical data representation that can be read using a scanner or a smartphone camera. While they serve similar purposes, there are a few key differences between the two:
- Dimensionality: A standard barcode is a one-dimensional (1D) representation of data, presented as a sequence of vertical lines of varying widths and spacings. On the other hand, a QR code is a two-dimensional (2D) representation of data, composed of black squares arranged on a white square grid. This means that QR codes can hold significantly more information than standard barcodes.
- Data Capacity: A standard barcode can typically hold up to 20-25 alphanumeric characters, while a QR code can hold several thousand characters of information. This means QR codes can encode much more complex and detailed information, like URLs, contact information, or even a small paragraph of text.
- Data Types: Standard barcodes typically represent numerical data or a limited set of alphanumeric characters. QR codes, on the other hand, can represent a wider variety of data types, including numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and even Kanji (Japanese characters).
- Error Correction: QR codes have built-in error correction capability, meaning they can still be read even if part of the code is damaged or obscured. Standard barcodes do not have this feature, so if they’re damaged or not scanned correctly, they cannot be read.
- Readability: Standard barcodes can only be read in one direction (from left to right), while QR codes can be read in any direction, 360 degrees. This means QR codes can be scanned more quickly and easily.
- Application: Standard barcodes are widely used for inventory management and product identification in retail stores. QR codes, because of their higher data capacity and ease of use, have found wider applications in many areas such as marketing, ticketing, packaging, and more. They’re often used to provide quick access to websites or digital information by scanning the code with a smartphone.
HOW CAN QR CODES HELP MY BUSINESS GROW?
QR codes can be a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. Here are a few ways that QR codes can help your business grow:
- Easy Access to Information: QR codes can direct your customers to specific information about your business, such as product details, special offers, or user manuals. By scanning a QR code, customers can quickly and easily access this information.
- Efficient Marketing: You can print QR codes on brochures, business cards, posters, billboards, or even your product packaging to lead potential customers to your website or a specific landing page. This can be a great way to bridge the gap between your physical and online presence.
- Contactless Transactions: In the era of social distancing, QR codes offer a touch-free way for customers to access menus, place orders, make payments, and more. This not only increases convenience but also helps ensure safety.
- Customer Engagement: QR codes can lead customers to interactive content such as videos, games, surveys, or social media pages. This can help improve customer engagement and build a stronger relationship with your audience.
- Trackable Metrics: Using QR codes, you can track data such as the number of scans, location of scans, and time of scans. This can provide valuable insights into customer behaviour and campaign performance, helping you make more informed marketing decisions.
- Ease of Use: Most smartphones now have QR code scanners built into their camera apps, so customers can scan QR codes without needing to download any additional software. This ease of use can lead to higher rates of customer engagement.
- Versatility: QR codes can be used for a wide range of applications, including digital business cards, event tickets, Wi-Fi network sharing, and more. This versatility allows you to get creative with how you use them in your business.
By integrating QR codes into your marketing strategy, you can enhance the customer experience, track campaign performance, and ultimately drive business growth.
WHERE CAN I USE QR CODES?
QR codes are versatile and can be utilised in various places for a wide array of applications, depending on your business needs or personal use. Here are some common places where QR codes can be used:
- Marketing Materials: You can place QR codes on brochures, flyers, posters, or banners to direct users to specific online content such as a promotional webpage, a new product, a digital coupon, or a survey form.
- Business Cards: Digitalise your contact information on a business card. When someone scans the QR code, it can load your contact details into their phone, or direct them to your professional website or LinkedIn profile.
- Product Packaging: QR codes on packaging can lead consumers to more detailed information about the product, user manuals, or to register for warranty.
- Restaurants: Menus can be encoded into QR codes, which diners scan to view the menu on their own device. This has become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic as it reduces the need for physical contact.
- Physical Stores and Showrooms: Place QR codes next to products to provide customers with additional information, customer reviews, or compare features between products.
- Events and Tickets: Event details or tickets can be stored in a QR code. When scanned, all the event or ticket information is displayed and can be easily saved.
- Real Estate Signage: When selling or renting a property, a QR code can direct potential buyers or renters to a virtual tour of the property, detailed information about the property, or contact information for the real estate agent.
- Education: In a classroom, teachers can use QR codes to link to educational videos, resources, or assignments.
- Invoices and Bills: Businesses can include QR codes on their invoices or bills. When customers scan the code, it can direct them to a payment portal.
- Social Media: A QR code on promotional material can direct users to your social media page, encouraging them to follow or like your page.
Remember, the success of a QR code campaign largely depends on the value of the content it leads to. Always ensure that the scanning of the code provides useful or necessary information and improves the user’s experience.
HOW DO I MAKE A QR CODE?
Looking to create your own QR code with a user-friendly tool? Look no further. Navigate to the top of this page and utilise our exceptionally easy-to-use QR code generator. You’ll swiftly have a uniquely crafted code at your disposal, ready for use wherever you desire.