Question What are those strange black and white squares that seem to be cropping up everywhere? Answer QR Codes… By including a QR code on your leaflets, brochures, posters etc. you can give your customers easy, instant access to your website and other online marketing. QR codes were invented in the mid 90’s, and were initially intended for use in logistics to track packages through the supply chain, but they took a foothold in the marketing arena in Japan where they are now heavily used. Put simply, they are 2 dimensional (2D) bar codes, (as opposed to the normal 1 dimensional codes we see on pretty much every package), that when scanned by a Smartphone, will direct the user to some online content or perform an action like sending an email or SMS. Though do remember users are likely to be viewing your content on a phone so make sure it works on a small screen. See our post here for more info on this How do I create them Although there are some companies who will charge a small fortune for creating print ready QR codes, they are in fact very simple to create and can be produced using an online tool like qrcode.kaywa.com a service that is free and very simple to use. All you do is tell it what content you would like the code to point to, select a size and hit generate. The system will then create a code that you can save as an image. How big should it be? The rule of thumb is that for every 1m away that the scanner will be from the code, the code should be 10cm square. ie, a code 40cmx40cm should be scannable from around 4m! Fortunately, because they are simple black and white images, you can safely scale them up using any graphics package, without loosing any quality. The Fun Stuff QR codes in their native form are pretty dull, but because they have a lot of redundancy built into them, you can remove or alter up to 30% of the dots, and they will still work. Designers have used this feature to create some pretty funky codes. You will find a few of these here. Our advice would be though that if you want to do anything but the most basic customisation, then it would be best to use a specialist designer who knows what they are doing. And in any case, TEST YOUR CODE before you use it. The Important Stuff Yes QR codes are new to the UK marketing scene, but should you be using them? The answer is, as always, “It depends”. The question is, do they add anything to your campaign from a marketing perspective? If they do, then use them, but if not, then don’t! There is no doubt that QR codes can add a really effective link between on-line and off-line elements of a campaign, and can be a great tool for driving people to your website from printed materials like PR and adverts. We have two good examples of this in a recent campaign we have been running in connection with the Bankswoodberry Music festival.
- QR codes on a promotional banner The BSA banner, that we will be using at the festival, has 2 QR codes, one that links through to this blog, and a second that will send an enquiry email. This gives a simple way for interested parties to interact with the banner and obtain a copy of our contact details.
- QR codes to request additional info about the Festival PR concerning the festival contains a QR code, that when scanned will send an email to the users phone containing details of the bands playing over the weekend of the festival.In addition, lineup posters at the event will contain the same QR code to save people having to note down times of bands manually.In both cases scans are tracked to aid the measurement and assessment of the campaigns effectiveness.