What is a QR Code?
Quick Response Codes, also called QR codes, are square barcodes that were developed to improve upon the traditional “line” barcodes. The line barcodes, created in the 1960s, can only hold around 20 alphanumeric characters. QR codes, created in 1994, are two-dimensional and can store information both horizontally and vertically. This allows for combinations of up to 7,000 characters!
Why Are QR Codes Popular in 2020?
QR codes were initially developed to keep track of factory parts. But using QR codes in marketing hit a high point in the early-2010s. But the codes were not adopted as readily as marketers had hoped because of the clunky workflow that required users to download a QR code reader app to their smartphones, open the app, and then finally scan the code.
In 2017, iOS upgrades began letting iPhone users scan QR codes directly from their camera function, eliminating the downloading and opening of a new app. Android phones have also made QR scanning easier in recent years. Add to this the fact that by 2020, 90% of the worlds population will have access to high-speed internet! These advances are bringing QR codes back into marketers’ toolkits.
One survey predicted 11 million households in the United States will scan a QR code in 2020. In China, 50% of users scan QR codes several times a week. The survey also showed that, surprisingly, users 34-44 years old were most likely to scan the codes, followed by users 23-33 and users 45-55.
How to Use QR Codes in Marketing
As mentioned above, data packed into one small code can perform functions like opening a link to a website, pulling up text instructions, or loading videos. This allows you to expand on your marketing efforts without having to cram so much information onto your flyer, brochure, or signage. Magazines can use them to entice readers to “read more” about certain topics; business cards can use them to promote a company’s web presence; and event signage can use them to pull up a map of the event space.
QR codes can be customized to incorporate your brand, including logos or changing colors. The more fun and interesting it is, the customer will be more enticed to scan it!
Best Practices for Using QR Codes
- Do instruct users how to proceed, whether it’s with a small “scan me!” note next to the code or a more in-depth introduction.
- Don’t make the QR code too small. The minimum for printing should be 2 cm x 2 cm.
- Do use a shorter URL for faster load time. Use Bit.ly or Google’s link shortening service if necessary.
- Do make sure your website is mobile responsive. Users will be on their smartphones to scan the code, so you want to be sure they can read and interact with your site once they get there.