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How to Use QR Codes to Promote Your Business

You may have noticed black symbols showing up on billboards and other marketing materials in recent months. These 2-D barcodes are known as QR codes (Quick Response codes) and are gaining in popularity thanks to the recent explosion of smartphones among consumers.

QR code usage is still relatively new in the U.S. but now is the perfect time for companies to get in on the trend. It will help attract new customers and establish your growing company as cutting edge.

If you are new to QR codes, here is an explanation of the process as well as some specific ways you can use the QR codes to promote your business.

How QR codes are used

When smartphone users download QR code apps, they are able to take a picture of the code and get hidden content that marketers have programmed into the code. This content may include a website, business contact information, a coupon or other promotion. Promotions include discounts, codes for free shipping or merchandise, and downloads. Others are also using the codes to garner more participation on their Facebook page and building their e-mail marketing database. 

The apps that are required to scan and read the QR codes are free and have been developed to work with Blackberry, iPhone and Andriod phones.

How to create QR codes

Business owners and marketing departments are easily able to create QR codes thanks to websites like qrcode.kaywa.com. The services are quick and free, making it simple for you to test the concept to see how it works for your business without having to make a large investment.

When you visit Kayway’s QR-Code Generator, you are able to indicate the website, text, phone number or sms that you would like the QR code to generate. With a click of a mouse, the code is created and you will be able to save it to your computer. The site also provides you with a permalink and HTML code that you can easily copy and paste to your company’s blog or website.

Why business owners are using QR codes

QR codes allow companies to engage their current and potential customers.

Google recently revealed results of a study they conducted regarding people who conduct searched on their mobile phones. The study found that these consumers are extremely action-oriented; 90 percent will act on their search by calling or visiting the business they were searching for so they can make a purchase.

The potential QR code user base is growing, with the percentage of smartphone owners at 15 to 19 percent at the end of 2010 and expected to double by the end of 2011, according to information published by interlinkONE.

This group of smartphone users are an appealing group to bring into your customer base. By utilizing this low-cost (financial and time) marketing tool, you are able to quickly engage these consumers.

Ways you can incorporate QR codes

Here are just a few of the many ways you can start utilizing QR codes to promote your business and attract new customers:

  • Business cards—include a code on your business card that allows customers to save your company’s contact information directly to their phone.
  • T-shirts—create t-shirts for your staff that has a QR code. When your customers scan the code, you can send them to a promotional website that highlights the current offers that you are providing customers. You can also get your customers involved by giving them a free t-shirt they can wear around town.
  • Direct mail—include a QR code on your next postcard or other mailing campaign to help boost response rates. If your mail piece is being mailed in an envelope, include the code on the outside of the envelope. This will peek recipients’ interest and help increase open rates.
  • Billboards and print marketing materials—whether it’s big or small, you can incorporate your QR code on just about any hardcopy marketing material. Companies are including them on fliers, brochures, posters, and magazine ads.

How to get the most out of QR codes

Before jumping into your QR code campaign, you may want to consider the following tips that will help you increase the ROI of your marketing efforts.

  • Make it smartphone friendly. Keep in mind that consumers are going to access your QR code content on their mobile phone. So, if your code is going to take them to a website, be sure it’s designed to be easily viewed and navigated via a phone.
  • Educate your current customers about QR codes. The QR code concept is still fairly new to the US. When you include a code on advertising or your website, include a short message that encourages them to utilize a QR code reader to get special information or discount from your company. If you have a newsletter, include a short blurb in your next issue that gets your customers excited about the fun, new communication technique.
  • Point customers to QR code readers. Help people utilize your QR codes by letting them know that free code reader apps are available for them to download on their phones. Consumers love the word “free”, so be sure to highlight that they can take advantage of this technology without having to use money.
  • Utilize QR codes to create VIP access. Customers like feeling special. You can create an intimacy with your customers by using your QR codes to give them VIP access. Use the code to provide them discounts, websites or event information that can only be accessed through the QR campaign.

Daniela Baker is a social media advocate at the small business credit cards comparison site, CreditDonkey.  Have you been using QR codes to promote your business?  Leave a comment below with your experience.

Join The Conversation

  • Jul 5 Posted 5 years ago Tom Barry (not verified)

    There is a great site I use for making QR Codes called QReateandTrack.com Really awesome site for creating your own QR codes and following their progress. Also you can get professional Mobile Website development from My Mobile Made Easy. Great service and you as a business owner do almost nothing, we'll do the work for you.

  • Jun 20 Posted 6 years ago Johnatan Reel (not verified)

    Great Post. We used to have vcard information on our biz cards since some month it`s a damn good conversation starter even if it`s not scanned. Now starting using ucardo like the combination of micropage + classic bizcard.

     

  • Jun 18 Posted 6 years ago BTarren (not verified)

    I recently collaborated with a local advertising agency, The Martin Ageny, the produce a companion campaign for my blockbuster Picasso exhibition. The creative was a black and white illustration of Picasso made up entirely of QR codes is varying sizes. It was the first example as far as we can tell that the code device was used as the creative itself, not just a box at the bottom on an ad. 

    The campaign included bus shelters, print ads, web banners, airport duratrans, the side of a building in SoHo, NYC and Philadelphia, window decals at Starbucks, and in-train posters Washington DC commuter trains. The codes were somewhat new to the general population when I did this (February, 2011), and as such generated a lot of buzz among the audience I was targeting. The museum store sold out of the t-shirts.

    The effort worked because it took a new visual element and delivered it in an unexpected way. Now that QR codes are showing up on everything from in-store POP in groceries to ads for cars, watches and chain saws, consider them just one of the many marketing tools available. They are not by themselves the holy grail.... the idea is.

  • Cue Social Media's picture
    Jun 14 Posted 6 years ago Cue Social Media

    There are a lot of innovations with QR codes that now mean they don't need to just be black on white and can incorporate colours, logos, shapes and can be 3d. I wrote a blog about it myself and I am a huge advocate of QR Codes and think they are totally under utilised.

  • Jun 13 Posted 6 years ago Anne Patrick (not verified)

    Thanks for the information about QR codes and for the link where I can generate it and also its impact to people. There are many ways in how to market the brand and QR codes is helpful and very useful not only to the business part but also to the consumers or target audience.

    @Benjamin, you had a great point, by giving corporate gifts (Tshirts, mugs, etc.). But then I think that Daniel emphasize the use of Internet since most people are engaging with online shopping. However, QR codes can also be used with your idea, they can get the code equivalent to the gift item. Thanks for your idea also.

  • Jun 13 Posted 6 years ago Benjamin Hübner (not verified)

    Another great post! I´m not using QR codes by now, but I think they can be real powerful combined with services like Zazzle, for example!

    Why not promote your website with Tshirts, Cups or whatever! This is real great for local business and not web based business types, but it may work for IM or Forex too.

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