What Are QR Codes?
They look like this (Hold your Cell Phone in front of it with one of the many free QR Readers)
Originally designed in Japan for the automotive industry, marketers adopted the barcodes because of their large storage capacity and ability to translate additional information to consumers beyond what creative and/or packaging could convey. If a consumer sees a QR code somewhere, they can take out their mobile device, open up a QR code scanner, and “scan” the barcode to gain access to additional information.
How to create a QR Code
The QR code creation process is pretty straightforward. Here’s how to get started.
1) Select code generator.
There are many QR code generators on the Internet free to download, but a few of the most popular include:Kaywa, GOQR.me, Visualead, QR Stuff.Some things to look for when choosing a QR code generator are whether you can track and analyze performance, if it allows you to design a code that’s unique to your brand, and if it is compatible with common QR code readers.
Design and link it up.
The fun part of creating QR codes is customizing the design of the codes to your brand. Want your code to look like your logo? Go for it. Want it to reflect your website’s design scheme? It is possible!
To demonstrate how easy it is, let’s select one of the QR code generators above and do a walkthrough together. I’ll select GOQR.me.
Step 1: Select what type of content you want your QR code to send the consumer to — we’ll choose a URL for this example.
Step 2: Insert the content (in this case, a URL).
Step 3: Check out the preview, customize as desired, then download and/or embed where needed.
Quite simple, right? Of course, you can customize your QR code further — adjusting the colors, adding a logo, creating social options, and more.
3) Test the QR code.
In all the excitement of creating your first QR code, don’t forget to check to see if the QR code “reads” correctly, and be sure to try more than just one reader. A good place to start is the free tool Google Goggles, which takes a picture and then tells you what link or item it “reads to.” Another great free tool is QR Code Reader, which automatically takes you to whatever it “reads.” Apple’s Passbook also offers a built-in QR code reader on iOS 7, so you should test to make sure your code is readable there, as well.
4) Track and analyze performance.
Just like any marketing campaign, you should follow up on any collateral or campaigns using QR codes to see whether they’re actually working. How much traffic comes from each specific code? Are people scanning your code but not redeeming their offer once they get to the landing page? Or are they not even compelled enough to scan your QR code? Knowing this will help you troubleshoot and adjust your poorly performing QR codes to more closely mirror those that work well.
QR Code Best Practices: Some Important Do’s and Don’ts
Now that you see how simple the QR code creation process can be, let’s talk about some best practices that will help increase the likelihood your QR code actually gets used.
QR Code Do’s
1) Do put QR codes in places where scanning is easy, and there’s enough time for the consumer to actually scan the code. While you may often see QR codes on billboards and TV commercials, they’re not exactly the most user-friendly locations. Think of places and mediums where consumers have the time to scan the code, and, ideally, a Wi-Fi connection as well. Shopwindows come to mind, so do Business Cards.
2) Do mobile-optimize the page to which you’re sending people. Consumers will be on their phone when scanning the QR code, so they should be brought to a page with a positive mobile experience.
3) Do offer a call-to-action (CTA) with the code — that is to say, tell people what they’re supposed to do when they see the code, and what they’ll receive if they do it. Not everyone knows exactly what a QR code is, and those that do won’t be motivated to scan it unless they’re sure there’s something worthwhile on the other side.
QR Code Don’ts
1) Don’t require a special QR code scanner. Your QR code should be app-agnostic so anyone can scan your code with any reader. A lower barrier to entry makes success more likely for you and the user.
2) Don’t use a QR code just for the sake of using one. For instance, it’s common for marketers to think, “How can I bridge the offline experience with the online experience? If you have content that makes sense to deliver to a mobile user, and you have an appropriate vehicle to do it (see #1 in the “Do” section above) it’s more likely your QR code will drive results. For example, in South Korea, grocery store chain Tesco drove tremendous national business growth by using QR codes in subway stations to let commuters order their groceries while they wait. It’s a great example of using QR codes for the right end-goal, at the right place and time.