QR Codes. What Are They All About?


Those little black and white squares…you may have seen them in a magazine ad or on the back of a postcard and wondered what the heck is it and what’s its purpose? They’re called QR (Quick Response) Codes. Simply put, they are similar to barcodes, except they can hold a lot more data.

Here’s a brief 101.

How did they come about? They were invented in Japan and have been actively used for over a decade. QR is a registered trademark of Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota. Other software companies, like Microsoft, have created codes that are similar to QR codes. Microsoft developed MS tags, but they can only be read by the Microsoft Tag Reader.

How do they work? There are QR Code generators. If you simply search for QR Code generators, you will get a ton of options and they are free. You can use it to create QR codes that link to a web page, text, phone numbers or SMS. Then there are the QR Code readers. There are quite a few out there for download. For example, for the iPhone, i-nigma seems to be the most widely used reader and accommodates most any camera phone. For the Android, you can try Barcode Scanner. Simply go to your app store on your phone and search for QR readers and you can pick the one that best suits you.

What’s its purpose: When you scan or read a QR code with your Android, iPhone or other camera-enabled Smartphone, you can link to digital content on the web; activate a number of phone functions including email, IM and SMS; and connect to a web browser.

For example, I have an Android phone and I use the Barcode Scanner. Simply go to the application, place the barcode inside the viewfinder rectangle to scan it and you can either open browser, share via email or share via SMS. It’s really simple and easy. I scanned a QR code that was in a restaurant ad. I decided to open browser and it took me to their .mobi site, where I could review everything from their specials to their menu and I could even link to their Facebook page.

What are some of the common uses of QR Codes? They can be used on your business card, brochures/marketing materials, packaging, restaurant menus, ticket stubs, point-of-sale receipts.

What can QR Codes link to? Directions to your business, coupons and special offers/deals, customer feedback forms, enter-to-win forms, complementary products and services, etc. The options are pretty limitless!

How can QR Codes help your business? We are all consumers and we all want the quickest access to what is relevant in our lives, and QR codes are making that happen. Their ability to hold more information and their ease of use makes them practical for small businesses. There are quite a few applications for QR Codes. You can use Likify to create a QR code that links your mobile device to a fully functioning LIKE button for your Facebook page. You can create a call-to-action. You can alternate special offers by simply linking your QR Codes to new landing pages, and you can combine them with email opt-ins to build your list. QR codes enhance both your search engine and social media optimization. Now you can increase traffic to searchable objects (i.e., videos) to further optimize them by encouraging more sharing.

So, when you are reading a magazine or get something in the mail, be on the look out for these and play around with them.

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