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QR Code Basics: What they Do and How to Use Them

QR codes are everywhere you look now on advertising posters, brochures, and even some billboards. You may be wondering what they are and how they’re used, by both companies and customers.

What QR Codes Do

Most QR codes are simply links to webpages, often leading to signup forms, discount offers, downloads, a company Facebook page, or other promotional site. Other types of QR codes can contain contact information, e-mail addresses, text messages, calendar details, GPS coordinates, and other data. This article explains further the different kinds of QR codes currently in use:

QR Code Types Examples and Explanations

How a QR Code is Scanned

At this point, a QR code reader app is necessary for scanning codes. There are free and highly-rated options available in the app stores for iPhones, Androids, and other phone brands. Anyone wishing to scan a code needs only to get out their phone and open the QR code reading app, and it will take a photo of the code, opening the web page or data contained inside.

How to Get More Customers Scanning Your Codes

If you are looking to make your QR code use more effective, begin by considering the following questions:

1. Is it clear to the user what happens, or what they receive, when they scan the code?

2. Are the benefits to the user worth the time it takes for them to take out their phone, open the app, and load the URL?

3. Is the code easy to scan? Is it accessible and unobstructed, with the colors not inverted?

4. Is using the QR code more efficient than simply doing what the code itself does? (Making a phone call, for instance.)

5. Is your audience familiar with QR codes, and what they do?

How QR Codes can Boost Business for Stores and Restaurants

If you are a store or restaurant owner considering QR codes for your business, here are just some of the possible uses:

  • Give your customers the opportunity to “Like” your Facebook page, subscribing them to your news and updates.

  • Encourage them to “check in” to your location with Facebook/FourSquare, so that others are reminded about your business.

  • Create a game by placing text message QR codes at different locations in your store, offering a scavenger hunt that leads to a reward.

  • Link to your restaurant menu from other locations or in advertising materials.

  • Link to store or restaurant coupons.

  • Offer an easy way for customers to post reviews, creating more buzz for your business on Local Search websites.

  • Place codes on product tags, giving additional information and access to product reviews.

How to Create Your Code

Creating a QR code is easy. First, go to this link: http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/.

1. Select your “Contents”, which is the type of QR code you are creating. (“URL” is a standard link code.)

2. Complete the form and click “Generate”.

3. Click the “Download” link, and use the code wherever you’d like.

About the author:

Steve Schmidt is President and Web Strategist of Effect Web Agency. Steve has planned and developed over 150 websites since founding Effect in 2003.

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