A Brief Guide: How to Maximize Your Business Using QR Codes

apple qr code
Apple.com QR Code

What is a QR Code?

A QR (or ‘quick response’) code is a matrix-shaped, computer-generated barcode.

It’s commonly used as an instant delivery system for vCards, website URLs, emails, telephone numbers or even template text messages, once scanned by a smart phone or webcam.

Will my customers and clients know what they are?

A recent Comscore survey found that over 14 million Americans scanned a QR Code in June 2011 alone.

You may have seen QR Codes on posters or in magazines, possibly even on television. If your customers are very smart phone literate, then they may well expect you to use QR codes. Although research shows that Android and iPhone users are more likely to scan QR codes than Blackberry and Palm users.

There are many QR code scanners on the market and they are almost all offered for free. However, different scanners offer different degrees of success at interpolating QR Codes, so it’s wise to ensure that yours are as legible as possible.

calvin klein qr code
Calvin Klein billboard with QR Code Technology

What should I use a QR Code for?

This is a big question. It’s fairly common to supply simple, basic company information – web URL, office address – rather than specific contact details for individual employees, but it depends on the nature of your business. A recent survey for Austin & Williams Agency uncovered the Top Three uses for QR Codes:

  • 62% go to a website
  • 30% give information
  • 30% offer a coupon
qr code business cards
Stephanie Obodda QR Code Business Card

How do I get one on my Business Cards?

When updating your company’s Business Cards, why not make the most of what they can do, by adding interactive smart phone functionality for your customers, using a QR Code.

Of the 14 million Americans that scanned a QR Code in June 2011 alone, 13% of those were codes on Business Cards. Most business card printers are now offering QR codes as a standard design option. There are plenty of free tools that will allow you to create a QR code easily, you can specify them to dial a phone number, take the user to a web address, or add a v-card when scanned.

Are there any design restrictions I should know about?

As a rule of thumb, the more text information a QR Code contains, the larger the matrix will need to be, in order to be easily read. If you’re directing customers to a long web URL, you can use a link-shortening website (such as Bitly, or Owly) to keep your code at a manageable size.

How do I ensure my QR Code is legible?

Test the size of your QR code before printing or organising large advertising campaigns. We have seen problems occur when customers print codes that are too small to be easily read. The QR code creator will design your image at an optimum size for reading; we would advise against decreasing the size of your QR code.

Can I get it in different colours?

We would recommend black and white. QR Codes rely on the contrast between the black and white sections when being scanned, so it’s generally not a good idea to introduce complicated coloured designs.

qr code reader
QR code reading

Does it work?

We asked Able Distributors for some feedback on the success of using QR codes to help rethink their Business Card strategy. They said the reactions – from customers and employees alike – ran from “I can’t believe you can fit so much information on that card” to “how did you get a QR code on the card?” and beyond:

“One of the great things about a QR code is how simple it is to setup. Our old business cards were expensive and not very interesting. Now everything looks consistent and it makes our brand more recognizable. New customers are more likely to feel like they have reached the right store, or website, if there is some synergy between the card and website design. It is also nice to have the ability to only order the cards we need for each employee instead of having to buy the same amount for everyone. This allows us to spend more marketing dollars on other projects and campaigns.”

Further reading on QR Codes:

About the Author: This post was written by Simon Goble on behalf of moo.com. MOO just love to print, offering premium business card printing services, unique MiniCards, postcards, StickerBooks, greeting cards and more. You can visit their site at us.moo.com or follow them on Twitter @overheardatmoo.

Image sources: Apple.com QR Code – Kreative Labs; Calvin Klein QR Code – Stylelist; Stephanie Obodda QR Code Business Card – via CreativeFan; QR Code reader – Okay Geek