You've undoubtedly seen a QR code before. These are square black-and-white pixelated codes that are appearing all over the place. They're not just weird, futuristic decorations. The QR code is the modern-day bar code. Instead of using a scanner, you scan it with your smartphone.
QR codes are smarter than bar codes. They can hold much more information. They're designed to redirect your smartphone's browser to a selected URL. When you see a QR code, you whip out your phone, scan it, and you're instantly redirected to the website, coupon, video or other service.
If you use a smartphone, you can probably understand why this is so cool. Typing a URL into a smartphone's browser isn't exactly the most fun experience in the world. With QR codes, you don't have to mess with any typing at all. Just scan and you're there. QR stands for 'quick response,' and that couldn't be a better description of how they work.
Marketing with QR Codes
For marketers, QR codes are even cooler. For one thing, you can put them absolutely anywhere. They're black and white, and you can print them as stickers. Lots of companies use QR codes to take mobile users to their websites, but that's far from all you can do with them. You can create a QR code that, when scanned by a phone, it instantly signs the user up to your email list; making it just a little bit easier to sign up.
QR codes can be used as part of a promotion with social media. When they scan it, they instantly 'like' or share with their friends. You can combine this with a coupon where after liking your business, they get a nice discount for your products or services.
Your QR code could lead to an instant download. For example, you've got a flyer advertising a free report you've written for your customers. All they have to do is scan the code and they instantly get the report.
Information On Demand
The wonderful thing about the Internet is that you have access to all of the world's information at your fingertips. This is even cooler with smartphones, since they're pocket-sized. You can whip them out anywhere and find out about a product you're thinking of buying, a bottle of wine you're drinking, or a service you're thinking of trying.
More than ever, people are researching on their smartphones as they shop offline. They're looking for prices, reviews, and product information. You can put QR codes on your store's products that lead them to the information they're looking for. This information pushes fence-sitters off and turns them into buyers.
You can use QR codes to deliver the real-time information they're looking for. Some weather agencies and mass transit companies have taken advantage of this, embedding their codes with a link to updated info about what's going on now.
If you're not already sold on QR codes, one more thing to entice you is the fact that they're free and easy to generate. There are websites where you supply the URL to embed and it does it for you. You get an image file that you can copy and paste, or print. You can create as many as you want without spending a dime.