What Are QR Codes And How Do They Help You?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen these strange little codes popping up everywhere from billboards, magazine ads and even on your junk mail! You’re starting to wonder what they are, the purpose they serve and how you might incorporate them into your business. Our virtual tour software company recently hosted a webinar dedicated to these codes and we would like to share our findings with everyone.

For starters, what is a QR code? A QR code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by barcode scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smart phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background.

How are they used? QR codes act as Internet hyperlinks. When scanned into your phone or when you take a picture of the code, your phone’s internet browser will jump to the page described by that code. So say you put the URL of your Facebook profile or website into the QR code creator, when scanned, that code will take people to your Facebook profile. From print to digital in a snap!

How do I generate one? I personally prefer to use goo.gl. It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s made by Google! When you’re logged into your Google account all of your QR codes get saved under your Google profile. Simply take a URL or hyperlink to one of your online virtual tours, videos, marketing piece, or a website and drop that right into the generator. Click a button to generate your code. Presto! Congratulations, you just created your own QR code that you can download print and display anywhere! online QR Code scanner

Where are they used? QR codes are very flexible and can be used for more than just linking to a website or a virtual tour. They can be used to automatically send emails, SMS messages, upload someone’s full contact details into your phone’s address book and more. QR codes can link to text you have entered, a website URL, a social networking profile, a Google maps reference- anything you can think of! How about using it in your outgoing email signature? How about helping your customers put these on listing signs? Incorporate them into your business and show people that you’re ahead of the curve. Heck, print one onto the back of your car!

What do you need? First a smart phone, then a barcode reader. To download a barcode reader to your phone, simply download one from your Apps Market. I found the Zxing Team Barcode Scanner to be very user friendly and easy to use. Once installed it even allows me to scan barcodes of items in stores to insure I’m getting the best price in town!

Why are QR codes effective? QR codes use the cell phone as the response mechanism. For this reason, they capture viewers’ interest at the very moment it is piqued. You don’t lose eyeballs by requiring people to manually input URLs or scribble them down onto a piece of paper that might get lost.

Who is using them? Many of today’s top brands are using QR codes. GMC, Ford, Calvin Kline, Google, Pepsi, Ralph Lauren, The Weather Channel, Best Buy, Chevrolet, Starbucks, Facebook, MacDonald’s and many more. Your company can do this too!

The use of QR codes is exploding. They have been big in Japan for years. Now they are going global. They connect the world of print to the world of e-media. They tap into the mobile culture and the youth market. They offer an immediate, traceable response mechanism for everything from marketing collateral to magazine advertisements to billboards. Make it a goal this year to incorporate QR codes into your business.