What Are QR Codes & How to Use Them

Posted On: August 28, 2011


QR codes actually stand for quick response codes. They are similar to traditional barcodes utilized in retail settings except instead of storing prices, they can store much more information and direct customers to online data. Users simply need to scan the QR code with a device such as an iphone, ipad, android phone or Blackberry and link to online information. While QR codes are relatively new to North America they have been utilized successfully in Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom for almost a decade. QR codes were originally created by Toyota in Japan in 1994.


To use QR codes, you need to install a QR reader for your mobile device to be able to decipher the code. There are many QR code applications available such as Kaywa or ZXing.


Common Uses for QR Codes

QR codes have numerous and creative uses from directing users to your website, prompting a phone call, free give aways or even directing users to where they can find you on their social media networks. Here are some common uses for QR codes:

  • Coupons or discounts on a service
  • Receive more information on a product
  • Get directions to a location
  • Free give aways such as free MP3 downloads
  • Engage people in social media (gain likes on Facebook and followers on Twitter)
  • Make a phone call
  • Generate SMS messages
  • Send users to your website
  • Subscribe to a mailing list
  • Links to Youtube or online videos


Where to Put QR Codes

Now that you understand what QR codes are, what do you do with them? You can easily incorporate them into your advertising campaign and promotional materials to direct traffic to a desired action. One basic mistake that some marketers that are not familiar with online media are making is not giving people a reason to use QR codes. It’s important that people know where the QR code will be sending them.  It can be as simple as “scan this QR code for a free coupon” or “scan this QR code to like us on Facebook”.

QR codes are fairly new in north America. Their uses will continue to change with more creative solutions in advertising. Here are some common places to add QR codes:

  • Posters
  • Billboards
  • Business Cards
  • Stickers
  • Packaging & Labels
  • Catalogues
  • Receipts
  • Tickets