QR codes are special barcodes that allow users to scan them with a smart phone to take them directly to a specific location on the internet or to download content. You can create a QR code to direct someone to your website home page, for example http://www.tumblewoodteas.com or you could direct someone to a specific page on your site such as http://www.tumblewoodteas.com/collections/oolong/products/big-timber-beauty. Now you’ll notice that sometimes interior web pages have really long URLs. In this case, you would never want to use that long of a URL on a print advertisement or packaging. It would take someone a painfully long time to type it in their smart device, and the chances of them typing an incorrect character is pretty high. This is frustrating for users. Thus, having a QR code is helpful when you want to send people to a specific page but don’t want them to have to type a huge URL.
There is typically no direct cost to using QR codes. You can get a free QR code on a website like https://qrcode.kaywa.com. If you type in the URL you want and then click the tiny “Static” button, you can download one for free. The reason why someone might pay for a higher resolution / vector QR Code is that you can blow it up to any size or make changes to the file (change the color or otherwise).
It doesn’t really hurt to put a QR code on something, but they are best used when you can really entice someone to go to the trouble of scanning one. Despite its name, a “Quick Response” code takes a bit of an effort. You have to take out your smart phone, load your QR code scanning app, position your camera over the QR code, scan, and then wait for the link to load. The number of people who use them is relatively small compared to the overall population of smartphone users, but they can be helpful in certain scenarios. Here are some ideas of ways to motivate people to scan a QR code:
- giving away coupon codes or discounts
- provide instructions or recipes
- get driving directions
- contest applications or competitions
- get giveaways
- allow for a quick product reorder or mobile payment
- provide additional product details
- show customer reviews
- providing real time information
- app downloads
- entertainment while someone waits
- viral content or social media connections
The real cost for of adding a QR code to your packaging or business cards would be in the redesign and reprinting of the items. If you are due for a redesign or updated packaging, that would be a good time to consider using a QR code. Make sure before reprinting anything that the code is large enough to be scanned.
QR codes generally need to be about 1 inch by 1 inch for proper scanning, so they don’t take up too much real estate. According to kissmetrics.com, up to 30% of a code can be distorted or purposefully left out and it will still be readable by most scanning devices.
However, if you’re talking about a business card or tiny packaged product, you might be better off using a short memorable URL that redirects to your super long URL like www.bigtimberbeauty.com.
Let us know if you have seen any unique ways to use QR codes for marketing!