Those funny-looking barcodes that are popping up all over the place are QR codes – short for Quick Read. Using an application on a mobile phone, you can scan the code and be directed to a website, get contact information, get directions, register for an event or even get the code for a Wi-Fi network. But is all the effort really worth it? Does it make a difference to businesses to include a QR code in their advertisements? Is a QR code on your business card clutter or innovation?
You might think that QR codes aren’t that important since only people with smartphones can read them. That’s true, but in 2011 there were 468 million smartphones sold worldwide, a number that looks to climb by 34% by 2015 (from Mobithinking). People who buy smartphones are typically younger and more affluent than people who buy feature phones. That is the golden demographic for all advertising, and by using a QR code, you can instantly target your advertisement to that group.
You can build into your QR codes the ability to track its effectiveness. Instead of asking someone to type in a special code on your website, the QR code automatically enters the URL and you can set up your analytic tracking to see just how many people responded to your ad with the QR code embedded. It’s one of the most direct ways to track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Marketing is the process of connecting with customers, sharing your message and motivating them to act. The more steps you can remove for your customers, the more likely they are to act. A QR code is a step-removal tool. If you want to generate a large fan base on your Facebook or Twitter page, create a QR code that allows people to access the page immediately instead of having to go home, search for it and find it. You’re making the action you want that much easier.
Anything that moves from a physical world to an online world is a candidate for QR code use. If you have an invitation to a party, include a QR code that links to the Google Maps direction. If you have a business card, the QR code can automatically import your information into someone’s contacts. Drop a QR code on a flyer with a special coupon for people who show the resulting page on their phones. Put a QR code in the back of your book so people can buy the sequel as soon as they’re done reading.
The market for smartphones is growing by leaps and bounds and that means the usefulness of QR codes is increasing too. The power of QR codes is only beginning.