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QR Codes: Connecting Print and Online

Most likely you’ve seem them.  QR is short for “quick response,” and they’re those little black and white squares full of black “modules” arranged in a square patterns on a white background often displayed in magazine ads, on signs, buildings, business cards, or on most objects about which a person might be seeking more information.  QR codes were developed in Japan in 1994, but the western world has been a little slow on the uptake.  With the spread of smartphones and scanner applications, they’re catching on like wildfire.

What they do:

QR Codes are a great way to connect the print world to the online world.  QR codes, once scanned, can display text information, add contact infomation to your smartphone, take you to a website or YouTube video for more information.

Requirements:

To utilize a QR code, you’ll need a QR or barcode scanner app downloaded on your smartphone.  Using QR codes, at least at this point in time, puts a lot of faith in your target audience.  Many users likely have no idea yet what QR codes are or how to use/read them when they see them.  The learning curve is still in progress.

Effective use of a QR code:

  • Using a QR code to share quick and simple text-based information or instructions with a user can be an effective use. Many advertisements take you to a YouTube video that will give more information on whatever topic or product the ad is pushing.  This is also a more effective use of a QR delivering information to a smartphone user.  Better print ads have a small description of what the QR codes is and exactly how to use it.
  • Offering a special or bonus deal in an advertisement with a QR code can be a great way to further engage with users.
  • Sign up for our mailing list!  Engage your user with a great ad and use a QR code to link them to an easy online sign-up so you can further market to them.
  • Ordering products or selling tickets to an event – great use, just make sure you are connecting the user to an app/site where purchasing through a smartphone is easy.  Nothing will be more frustrating to the user than to take them to their goal and it be difficult or unattainable.

Ineffective use of a QR code:

Cassidy/Turley commercial real estate is putting huge QR codes physically on their downtown buildings, hoping potential renters will notice and scan them while walking or driving by.  These codes will take the user to a website listing.  Creative, yes.  However, no explanation is provided on the code or building.  If these QR code linked the user to a video tour of the property, with contact information at the end of the video, they might be moving in a more effective direction.

Know your audience and demographic.  Anything targeting Baby Boomers or Seniors is likely not yet an effective use of QR codes, but people are starting to catch on. What are you hoping your target audience will do once they scan the QR code? Make sure they can do it, fast and easy.

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