The box-shaped symbols called QR codes are nothing more than a rather fancy version of the bar code. The only difference between the two is that a QR code carries a lot more data than a traditional bar code.
The QR code was developed by a subsidiary of Toyota in order to improve the speed by which they assembled cars in the factory.
When you look closely, you will see that the average QR code has multitudes of black dots inside a square. Just as a barcode is computed, these dots represent either a 1 or a 0 in binary code and when combined in a series the dots and spaces make up what the QR code is saying.
Normally, the QR code is read starting from the bottom right corner going up to read the first line, then it shifts one row to the left and starts down again. This up and down reading method allows a considerable amount of data to be written inside the QR code making it a much more sophisticated version of the barcode.
What makes using QR codes a good idea for business owners is this large amount of data that can be stored inside them. While the standard bar code can only store a fixed amount of numbers, the QR code can store much more, including things like a hidden sales message for example.
With the advent of high definition cameras available in most smartphones these days it is possible for consumers to decode anything stored inside a QR code. You only need to have a special program (app) that quickly decodes QR codes in order unlock its secret message.
So, business owners can put special announcements, promotions, discounts, coupons and more inside QR codes for consumers to find. Once they have scanned in the QR Code, they can be enticed to take full advantage of the special offer. You can even put prizes in QR Codes that the customers can scan and then download into their phones.
You could perhaps also post a massive QR code as a sign outside your office simply to arouse interest in what it is. In short, the only thing that will limit what you can do with QR Codes will be your imagination.
However, while the code itself may post something as simple as a discount code or a web page link you do have to be a little careful of what you use the QR code for. You just cannot post the QR code without having to think what your objectives are. In order to maximize the effect of a typical QR code, it has to be able to DO something for the customer, or a visitor.
Many businesses, for instance, use the codes to offer an additional free gift, product or service to customers – in other words using the codes to give something extra. Merely using the codes to get people back to your website is not a good use for them.
Try not to include too much in your QR code because the dots tend to be much finer as a result. If the dots cannot be clearly picked up by a typical camera phone, you just lose an opportunity. This is why you must test that codes that you want to use.
Also, if you are posting QR codes in your advertising posters try to avoid putting these posters in places where there is no signal or internet connection..! Seems obvious, but you’d be amazed at the numbers of businesses that waste the opportunity!
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+