QR Codes are expected to gain momentum in the U.S. this coming year, due largely to the explosiveness of the Internet and smart phones, all converging with a technology ready to emerge. In fact, 2011 has been pegged the year of the QR Code.

What are QR Codes and how can it help your business?

QR stands for Quick Response, a 2D bar code that can be quickly decoded by any smart phone that has a reader, taking the visitor to a “call to action” of your choice.  They are created by a QR Code Generator and read by a QR Code Reader.

qr codes

Figure 1 - QR Code Example

Think of them as mini-web portals for your business where your customers can get immediate and timely information.  An example of a QR Code can be seen in Figure 1.  If you don’t think this is something with enormous potential, read on.

First some quick history.  QR Code technology was developed by Japanese Automotive Supplier Denso Wave in 1994 to track parts through the manufacturing process.  Denso owns the patent for QR Codes, but has opted not to exercise the right, making them essentially an open source platform.

QR Codes are very popular in Japan where mobile users accessing web browsers reached over 60% in 2010, compared to 34% for the United States.  Walking down a busy city street in Tokyo, you are likely to see many QR Codes on buildings, shop windows and other high traffic areas.

With the expansiveness of the Internet and advancement in smart phone technology, things began to line up as a perfect storm to introduce QR
Codes.  Mobile smart phones are as common as picking up a 1/2 gallon of milk and loaf of bread at the store these days.  In fact, by 2013, 2
years from now, smart phones will out number desktop PC’s! Why not take advantage of this eventual outcome by leveraging QR Codes to better position your business?

How Can a Business use QR Codes?

The possibilities of using QR Codes for your business marketing are endless, but let’s take a look at a few practical applications:

Front or back of your business card
The sides of trucks and trailers
Product tags and packaging
Convention and event Name Tags
Restaurant menus
Point-of-sale receipts
Your brochures and other marketing materials
At your store to encourage happy customers to leave reviews at the store

QR Codes could then be taken to a landing page of choice, for example:

Opt-in for your monthly newsletter
Build your email list
Installation instructions
Directions to your business
Google, Yelp, other Internet reviews for your business
Link To Your Online Content Blog or video
Summary of your professional services on your website
Link To Your Contact Information
Valuable coupons and special offers
Recommendations for complementary products and services
Customer feedback forms

These are only a few of the possibilities we will start seeing businesses use.  Are you beginning to see the vast potential QR Codes will offer for your customers? To simply scan and send them to a
dedicated page on your website for additional valuable information?  Powerful stuff!

“Recently, QR codes have become more prevalent in marketing circles and have been integrated into both traditional and interactive campaigns.” – Wikipedia

QR Codes have already hit mainstream in big-time business. The Detroit Red Wings interactive programs and the gigantic signage at Times Square are prime examples of hitting stride. Each of these serve as a preliminary of what’s in store on a grander but “smaller” scale across the U.S.

And here’s the kicker, the thing that will push QR Codes over the top.

google places Google has wholeheartedly embraced this technology for the small business sector.  In fact, in many areas of the country, when you register your business on Google Places, they will send you a QR Code that directs people to your website.  With Google spreading their massive wings to promote QR Codes, it won’t be long before they will become a common site in stores, shops, billboards, any place where capitalism thrives.

QR Code usage should be multi-channeled to individually track each one. In other words, every QR Code you deploy into your marketing campaign that links to your website (or any other medium) should be measured individually. This will allow you to continually improve upon usage. This can all be done within Google Analytics website tracking software, a free solution. Small business owners and SEO’s alike, will eventually see this as a monumental opportunity to further provide exposure for your business.

Summary

This article should be enough to get your creative juices flowing.  We have only scratched the surface of QR Codes and what they will do for small businesses.  It will be the visionary business owner that sees this converging technology as yet another way to connect and provide value and information to their customers.

 

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