Social Media

10 Things You Need to Know About QR Codes

1. QR Codes Can Store a Variety of Data

A traditional 1D UPC barcode can store up to 30 numbers, while a QR code can store up to 7,089 numbers.

 

 

 

 

The additional storage capacity accommodates a variety of data beyond numbers:

  • Text
  • Hyperlink
  • Telephone number (Phone call)
  • SMS/MMS message
  • Email (Send message)
  • Contact entry (vCard or meCard)
  • Calendar entry (vCalendar)

Storing a hyperlink presents a myriad of possibilities beyond just loading a web page — play a video, download a mobile app, check-in on Foursquare, update a Twitter status, “Like” a Facebook page, display map directions, and more.

 

 

 

 

2. QR Codes Can be Placed in and on Nearly Any Location

Once the QR code is created, it can be printed on nearly any surface and location — postcards, business cards, posters, vehicle magnets, yard signs, brochures, and more. This enables you to drive traffic and interaction from anywhere. QR codes excel at bringing non-digital media to life. Your print campaign is now interactive!

Keep in mind the location must be easily scannable. Plastic packaging can reflect light. Lighting can cast shadows, and hillsides and subways can kill connectivity. Consider all contextual factors that could impact the scanning experience.

3. Mobile Barcode Scanning is on the Rise

QR codes can be used for nearly any function (logistics, advertising, customer service, etc.) for B2B and B2C across a variety of industries:

4. QR Isn’t the Only Type of 2D Barcode

The most popular 2D barcode formats are QR codeDataMatrixScanLife EZcode, and Microsoft Tag (Tag).

There are several key differences in these code formats. ScanLife EZcode and Microsoft Tag are proprietary formats only decodable by their tools, while QR and DataMatrix formats are open standard. The open standard format is why we have chosen the QR code as our standard.

Google Trends analysis of these QR codes shows “QR code” dominates by far from a search popularity perspective. QR has become a common term used to reference a 2D barcode (2D code, mobile tag, mobile barcode, etc.) even when codes are technically a different format. Even @MicrosoftTag uses the #QRcode hashtag on Twitter.

5. Tools to Read QR codes

To read QR codes you’ll need to download a reader for your phone. Because of the open standard for QR codes, dozens of reader apps are available. (DataMatrix is usually supported on most QR readers.) Some mobile handsets come with a reader app pre-installed.  Note:Microsoft Tag and ScanLife EZcode can only be decoded by their respective reader apps.  Some available readers are:

Reader App Code Formats Download Link
(from your mobile phone)
RedLaser QR, UPC redlaser.com
I-Nigma QR, DataMatrix, UPC i-nigma.com
AT&T Code Scanner QR, DataMatrix, UPC scan.mobi
ScanLife EZcode, QR, DataMatrix, UPC getscanlife.com
Optiscan QR, UPC (also generates codes) Optiscan

RedLaser and AT&T Code Scanner also have geolocation features for local price comparison shopping.

Also, a quick search in iTunes reveals no less than 238 results for QR code readers.

6. Keep Codes Simple

When generating your QR codes, you want to keep it short and simple. For example: a long URL results in a complex code. If the code is too complex, some phones mat not be able to read it as well due to limitations of the camera and lens.

 

 

 

 

The two codes above take you to a Google search for “white iPhone“. The one on the left is the URL of the search result. The QR code on the right has been shortened with Google’s URL shortener, goo.gl. The result is the code on the right is less complex and therefore is able to be read by more phones than the code on the left. It is always best to use the URL-shortener of your choice to shrink hyperlinks.  Some popular URL shorteners are:

  • Goo.gl
  • Tinyurl.com
  • Bit.ly
  • is.gd
  • tr.im

Warning: Small, complex QR codes are the biggest mistake currently being made by marketers. Smartphone cameras with resolution less than 4-megapixels can’t scan a QR code smaller than about 1″x1″. Moreover, without the auto-focus (AF) camera feature, a complex QR code will have the same scanning issue, even if the code is larger. Unscannable codes kill and delay the adoption rate for QR code campaigns.

Tip: Always provide a back-up (i.e. hyperlink, SMS text message, etc.) option for users to retrieve info within the code. A back-up enables non-smartphone users to also participate.

7. Track Scanning with Analytics

URL-shorteners and web analytics should go hand in hand. For comprehensive scan tracking, you’ll want to use a service like Google Analytics to track all of your activity. Analytics are a great way to look at what codes get scanned, how users navigate your mobile site, device stats, location of users and more. DigitalDept.com provides analytics with all of our mobile plans.

8. Qr Code Content Should Provide Special Value for the Customer

It’s work to scan a barcode, so users have higher expectations as to what content they will find. Reward the user with discounts, exclusive content, or useful tips relevant to the code’s context. Consider scenarios that leverage smartphone features (email, SMS, phone call, video, map, apps, etc.) to save the user time.

For example, including a QR code on a business card that links to contact information would be a lot easier than the user manually entering the contact record. In contrast, a QR code that links to a traditional website homepage adds limited value and on some phones will not be displayed properly.

9. Consumers Need Guidance to Scan QR Codes

The variety of code types, readers, and different terminology is confusing to consumers. Nielsen Company estimates that only 40 percent of U.S. mobile devices are smartphones as of Q1 2011, growing to almost 50 percent by Q3 2011. That means there are a lot of smartphone rookies that barely know how to use their phone, much less distinguish differences in mobile barcode formats and reader apps. As QR codes are in their infancy here in the U.S., it’s best to include a visual with your QR code to help users understand what the code does. We include this image with all of our codes:

 

 

 

10. Testing Scannability is Imperative.

Before you mass print or distribute barcodes be sure to test for scannability. Testing factors:

  • Smartphone cameras (resolution/auto-focus)
  • Types of phones
  • Reader apps
  • Scan context (i.e. lighting, shadows, surfaces)
  • Scan distance
  • Scan timing


To ensure campaign success, consider consulting with a mobile barcode marketing expert, especially if it’s your first time running a mobile barcode campaign. Technology, trends, and tools in this arena are rapidly changing. A few hours of expert consulting can bring your team up to speed, help optimize campaigns for success, and avoid unnecessary embarrassment for poor implementation.

ProSourcePrinting.com provides a managed solution that connects your customers to mobile specific content through print, email and signage.  We’ll build a mobile web site that is consistent with your brand and business image. And once it’s up and running you can use multiple QR codes to direct your client to code specific content. The content is delivered to them instantly! No more waiting, no lost customers due to a better opportunity, and it’s trackable!


8 Reasons To Update Your Business Identity

 

When is the last time you looked at one of your own business cards or brochures? I mean really looked at them? Do they look dated? Do they have all of your correct information or do you have to scratch out an old phone number or email address and write in a new one? Do they have all of your current information? Do they convey the brand identity that you want to put in front of your clients? These are all important questions that need to be addressed. Quickly!
    1. Use Of Color. Color plays a very important role in how you present your business. Some people make a living off of the science of color. Do not underestimate the power of color.

 

    1. Your Company Logo. Make sure your logo is clean, crisp and current. Use the appropriate colors in your logo. They should tie in with your company colors and make for a lasting impression.

 

    1. Your Social Media Presence. More and more companies are realizing the importance of social media. Grow your network by letting others know where to find you.

 

    1. Your Contact Information. Be sure to include any contact information that is important to your business and leave off the info that’s not. Most importantly, make sure it’s current. One of the most unprofessional things is to watch someone scratch off a phone number or email and write in a more current one. Very unprofessional indeed.

 

    1. Make Them Use It. Adding marketing oriented text and graphics to business cards pays off. Phrases like: “Present this card for a free ring cleaning.” “Ask for Steve to get your first oil change free!” are powerful attention getters that will make your clients contact you. A properly stated call to action will get you more business.

 

    1. Update, Update, Update. Is that clear enough? Having an updated image shows that you are aware of current trends and that you care enough about your business to keep it fresh and current.

 

    1. The Back. Don’t forget about the back of your business card. The back of your card is just as important as the front. Want me to prove it? Watch what people do when you or one of your colleagues hands out a card. More often than not the recipient will turn it over and look at the back. Go ahead, try it. I’ll wait. See! Make use of the back of your card with any pertinent information that isn’t already there. It only adds a few dollars to print on the back.

 

    1. Consistency. Make sure you are consistent with your business identity. When someone sees your business presented consistently across all mediums, they will remember you. If your business cards are different from your brochures and your brochures are different from your website, how will your clients know it’s you?

 

Using a business card or brochure to simply exchange contact information is just plain wasteful. Your business card can be the most powerful, affordable and versatile marketing  tool you have. And it’s convenient size fits in a purse, wallet or pocket.  It’s portable!

 

Designing full color cards and brochures that get attention, appear more valuable and have a good call to action will get you more business. Your customers will love them and you’ll enjoy handing them out.

 

What have you done to revamp your image? Let us know!

Shiny Door

Shiny Door business cards

Shiny Door business cards.

Shiny Door business cards were designed by the client (final layout and positioning by Digital Dept.) and have expanded in numbers as their business has grown.


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