What Exactly is a QR Code?

A QR (short for “quick response”) code is a two-dimensional barcode that’s read by a camera-equipped device with a QR code-scanning app. These codes let companies connect offline customers with online content in an engaging and interactive way. When the code is scanned it will transport the user to whatever deal or destination the code is programmed with.

But are they effective? How has using QR codes changed your experience with a particular brand, product or service? According to this infographic, it makes ads more interactive while making it faster and easier to get information.

How Do I Create a QR Code?

There are several QR code generators out there; the key is finding the right one for your needs. Some questions to ask may include whether or not you can track and analyze performance, if it allows you to design a code that is unique to your brand, and if it is compatible with common QR code readers. Here are just a few generators worth checking into:

Visualead: This generator makes QR Codes more effective by instantly and seamlessly blending them with any design, attracting users and increasing engagement. They have plans that vary in pricing and do offer a free option to see if it’s right for you.

Kaywa: With Kawya you can customize your design for free, and the paid version allows you to track performance. The codes can link to a web page, text, phone numbers, or SMS.

GOQR.me: This service is also free with an option for paid premium service. This generator allows you to “read” to text, URL, phone number, SMS, or vCard. Linking to a vCard allows people to save your contact information easily and immediately when “reading” the QR code.

And if you’re looking to insert QR codes in stickers, posters or business cards via Adobe Photoshop try this tutorial.

Why Should My Business Use QR Codes?

QR Codes gained popularity in payments last year, with global players MasterCard and PayPal using QR Codes for identification and authentication. Apple’s Passbook on iOS7 also comes with built-in QR technology. Microsoft began using QR Code technology in the Xbox One console this year, allowing gamers to redeem codes by displaying a QR Code to the Kinect camera.

Studies show that consumers using QR codes tend to spend more. The Adobe 2013 Mobile Consumer Survey of 3,075 mobile users in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, and Germany offers some interesting statistics on QR Code usage.

46% of consumers scanned a QR code for discounts.
42% of consumers have used QR codes as a ticket.
67% of people have seen QR codes in retail stores.

According to the Business Insider, 1 out of every 5 people in the world owns a smartphone. People are using those phones to connect with their social networks, browse the web, make purchases, find restaurants, and more. The growing number of free apps and mobile friendly websites allows people to do things on the go that they couldn’t do ten years ago. QR codes provide consumers with a quick way to connect to their favorite brands and companies. Shouldn’t your business be one of them?

What Are Some Examples of How QR Codes Increase Customer Engagement?

MasterCard is using QR codes to enhance the transaction process beyond simple functionality and leveraging additional features through their own smartphone app. The app is available for both Android smartphones and iPhones. It is designed to allow shoppers to be able to use their smartphones at the point of sale in physical stores. There, they can scan QR codes in order to complete purchases at coffee shops, restaurants, stores, and other locations.

LinkedIn now has integrated WeChat so that members can display their WeChat name and QR code on their LinkedIn profile to make it easier for people to reach them.

One of the most successful players in QR mobile payments was a college student, who got $26,000 by waiving a cool poster with a QR code leading to his Bitcoin wallet.

Brands such as Taco Bell and Mountain Dew used QR code campaigns on their drink cups, with many free music downloads available to those who scanned them. In total, some 200,000 downloads resulted from this successful campaign.

THQ Homefront is a video game that uses QR codes throughout the game for players to unlock exclusive, never-before-seen content. Within two days, some 30,000 codes were scanned.
Google’s Favorite Places marketing campaign earmarked 100,000 places to visit in the USA. Those top businesses each got a window decal with their QR code on it. Passers-by could then scan the code for a wealth of information on the business.

Ed Davey, Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, is forcing energy providers to add QR codes to bills that would give people a “quick, straightforward way to compare the best deal for them with a simple swipe of their phone”.

A restaurant in Washington DC named Policy uses QR codes in its window, by the menu box. Patrons and passers-by can scan the QR codes, taking them to the online menu or allowing them to make reservations.

Scandinavian Airlines put together one of the most exciting promotions ever; the ad campaign required two smartphones (side-by-side) to scan the QR code to receive the deal. This campaign boosted revenue and got more people to fly together.

The end goal here is to use QR codes to make things convenient and engaging for your end user. Whether it’s by making a payment, sharing a special discount, or offering an exclusive item, QR codes have the ability to grab the consumer and engage them with your product or service. Take advantage of this inexpensive, and sometimes free way to market your small business.