What are QR Codes?
They are basically a funny looking 2 dimensional code that can be scanned by any modern smart phone in order to display a number of things relating to a company a URL, phone number, video or just a message. They can be read both vertically and horizontally and can be encoded in a much smaller space, which allows for more data than a normal barcode which can only identify a product, the ability to embed more information on a QR code allows the ability to display much more information.
Other types – MS Tag codes
Microsoft’s version MS tag codes, work in pretty much the same way, but give users the ability to take a picture of the code instead of scanning it.
It seems that MS tags presently allow for more possibilities for creative graphic designs, such as incorporating images and logos into the tag, which could appeal more to businesses wanting a more bespoke QR Code.
Uses for link building and online marketing
Although the main use for a QR code will be to increase brand awareness in a funky way that is different to the norm, something I will come back to later. But one way is to think of the speed and ease that a smart phone user with the correct scanning app could access your website without having to remember a URL especially if you URL is not the easiest to spell or remember.
The Internet Marketing professionals are still torn as to the link equity it may bring, but it is certainly something to bear in mind of you have content that can be access on mobile devices. In terms of building brand awareness, this is a great way to begin while it is something new and exciting, the links that are generated won’t give your website the same value as some keyword rich link text. But they can certainly help to get the pages noticed. It is also a great way to increase those speaking about your brand and website and to increase traffic to your site.
If you add them to your website, the search engines will see that your pages have changed, and that you are updating pages. The Google search engine will read the code and index it accordingly. Google recognizes these QR codes already and the other search engines will likely recognize QR codes and possibly index the content in them soon.
QR Codes and Social Media
Facebook is certainly going to be using QR codes pretty soon, as the social media is all about community and sharing is a big part of that. One service Likify allows users to create a QR code that links your mobile device to a ‘like’ button for your facebook page, allowing for simplicity and increased awareness on the social network from offsite advertising such as billboards or print. This is a great way to improve the integrated marketing blend between on and offline.
There are also uses for them on twitter by helping your followers re engage with your brand by asking them to retweet your QR Code to their network of friends, if the QR code is linked to a discount or special offer page on your site this will incentivise your followers.
How are brands using QR Codes?
QR code scanning increased a massive 1200%, probably due to a series of high profile marketing promotions that used the tool.
Pepsi has printed out QR codes on their bottles in order to redirect consumers to a custom landing page that features content regarding their business.
The McDonald fast food chains in Japan printed out QR codes on their food packaging to allow consumers the access to the nutritional information in their meals.
Before its premiere, the people behind the “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” movie incorporated QR codes on their movie posters that redirect people to sites featuring the movie’s trailer.
Ralph Lauren has also started to incorporate these matrix barcodes in print ads, mailers, and store placements. Ralph Lauren’s QR codes redirected consumers to web pages containing style guides, exclusive video contents, as well as to the brand’s limited edition collection.
Calvin Klein also incorporated a QR code on one of its billboard ads.
Starbucks is also currently using these codes to transact micro payments.
Other uses for QR codes
Name tags– Add all your information to your name tag at a conference and colleagues can simply scan it to download all your details.
Business cards – placing one on a business card to link to your bio, is an interesting way to make a unique business card.
Presentation notes and handouts could send users to interesting whitepapers or related info to accompany the presentation the delegates could reads on their mobiles on the way home.
Guerrilla Art- Street artist Banksy has a piece of work in a disused railway tunnel in London which includes a QR code, when scanned this code takes you directly to his Wikipedia page. This could be an interesting way for a company to gain interest in a new product or website launch.
On product boxes, linking through to the product page allowing people to quickly purchase more of a product.
As QR codes are not the mainstream at the moment and users would have to have downloaded a scanner to their phone to make them work. Adding value to any QR Codes
Places to create a QR Code
Generating QR codes is free, so here are a few sites to give it a go at some of the following selection of site;
QR Code Readers
Make sure you download a scanner as soon enough I’m sure you will come across a QR code in the street or in a magazine.
Some scanners to help you get started