How to create a QR code
- Choose a QR code generator.
- Choose the type of content you are promoting.
- Enter your details in the form that appears.
- Download a dynamic QR code.
- Customize it.
- Test the QR code to make sure it is scanned.
- Share and distribute your QR code.
- Track and analyze performance.
“Really? We’re talking about QR codes?”
Fair response. For several years now, QR codes have been the focus of the popular “___ is dead” trope that we marketers like to argue about when we talk about technology. We even discussed it ourselves on this blog.
But if there is one thing that the QR code debate shows you, it is that there sure is no consensus – the effectiveness of QR codes is still debated.
Nonetheless, the popularity and convenience of the QR code cannot be denied. Read on to learn how to make your own QR code and how you can encourage your customers to scan them when they come across your content.
What is a QR Code?
QR codes, short for “Quick Response” codes, are black and white square symbols that users can scan with a smartphone to learn more about a product.
These encrypted squares can contain links, coupons, event details, and other information that users may want to take with them to refer to later.
QR codes usually look something like this:
While not every QR code is shaped like a perfect square, most of the time they look like the picture above – with different patterns inside. You can often find them in direct mail, signage, billboards, and even commercials where you can use your phone to quickly scan the code on the screen.
QR codes vs. barcodes
Does the rise in QR codes mean traditional barcodes are a thing of the past? Of course not. Traditional barcodes remain a common way for businesses to identify consumer products (CPGs) and manage their product inventory.
Pictures over Wikimedia Commons | Wikimedia Commons
However, there are a number of differences between barcodes and QR codes – both in their use and in their properties. Here are three important differences:
QR codes are shaped differently
Barcodes They are usually rectangular in shape and require scanning equipment to read the barcode data horizontally. QR codes are often square and display their data vertically or horizontally.
QR codes contain more data
Due to the square shape of a QR code, it can contain a lot more data than a barcode. In fact, QR codes can contain hundreds of times more encrypted characters than a barcode.
QR codes contain different data
QR codes are often used differently than barcodes. Barcodes Have important product information available at the point of sale, e.g. B. the price and the name of the manufacturer. QR codes provide more passive and immaterial information such as location data and URLs for promotions and product landing pages.
How do QR codes work?
Originally developed in Japan for the automotive industry, marketers have adopted the barcodes because of their large storage capacity and the ability to translate additional information for consumers beyond what creative and / or packaging could convey.
If a consumer sees a QR code somewhere, they can take out their mobile device, download a free QR code scanning app, and “scan” the barcode to access additional information, such as:
For example, if you want to create a bus stop advertisement for your podcast, you can display a QR code on this printed display that will take people straight to your iTunes page when they scan it with their phones. Pretty easy right?
How to create a QR code
The QR code creation process is pretty straightforward. Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Choose a QR code generator.
There are tons of QR code generators out there. The best give you many options for using your QR code and being compatible with most QR code reader mobile apps.
Best QR code generators
- Shopify’s free QR code generator
- QR stuff
- QR code monkey
- Create a QR code with Google App Engine
When choosing a QR code generator, you should also pay attention to whether you can track and analyze its performance and whether you can use it to design a code that is unique to your brand.
For example, some QR codes display logos and other symbols in the code that instantly tell users what information they will get when they scan.
Step 2: Choose the type of content you are promoting.
Let’s choose one of the QR code generators mentioned above and take a tour together. I will select qr-code-generator.com, one of the eight preferred QR code generators above.
First, choose what type of content you want your QR code to display to the person after scanning. You can choose from 10 types as shown in the following screenshot. For our purposes, we will be promoting a URL that will redirect users to our podcast.
Step 3: Enter your details in the form that appears.
Once you’ve selected the type of content you are promoting with this QR code, a box or form will appear for you to enter the information that corresponds to your campaign.
For example, if you want your QR code to store contact information, you’ll see a series of fields for you to enter your email address, subject line, and related message.
To save a link to our podcast, simply enter the URL in the field that appears:
Step 4: Consider downloading a dynamic QR code.
See the option below for “dynamic”? A major disadvantage of creating a QR code is that you cannot edit the data it contains after it has been printed. However, dynamic QR codes allow you to edit this data.
With a free membership to QR code generators like qr-code-generator.com, you can print a dynamic QR code, scan it, and get an editable form where you can change the data your visitors get when they scan the QR code. Codes are preserved.
Step 5. Customize it.
The fun part of creating QR codes is customizing the design of the codes to suit your brand. Would you like your code to look like your logo? Do it. Would you like it to reflect your website’s design scheme? No problem.
With qr-code-generator.com we can customize our QR code by clicking the button on the top right as shown in the following screenshot. Note that not every QR code manufacturer offers this design option. Depending on the QR code you want to generate, some tools may be limited in their functionality.
Of course, you can further customize your QR code – customize the colors, add a logo, create social options, and much more.
Be aware, however, that some customizations can make code scanning by QR code scanning apps more difficult. It is a good idea to generate two versions of your QR code – one simple version and another with your preferred design.
Step 6: Test the QR code to make sure it is scanned.
Since a customized QR code can make some mobile apps difficult to “read”, don’t forget to check that the QR code is read correctly and try to use more than one reader. A good place to start is with the free Google Goggles tool, which takes a picture and then tells you which link or item it “reads” about.
Another great free tool is the QR Code Reader, which automatically takes you to what it “reads”. Apple’s passbook also offers a built-in QR code reader for iOS 7, so you should test whether your code can be read there too.
Step 7: share and hand out the QR code.
A QR code can only do its job if it is seen. So make sure you create a distribution plan for sharing the code. This could include viewing on social media, in print ads, on clothing, or in physical locations where people pick up phones to be scanned.
In addition to sharing the code, you may also want to include text instructions in your various promotions that show less tech-savvy people how to scan. That way, there is no friction when users want to scan the code but don’t know how.
Scroll down for more tips on how to display a QR code correctly.
Step 8: track and analyze performance.
As with any marketing campaign, you should track collateral or campaigns using QR codes to see if they are actually working. How much traffic is coming from each specific code? Do people scan your code but not redeem their offer once they hit the landing page? Or are you not even forced enough to scan your QR code?
Knowing this, you can fix bugs and customize your poorly performing QR codes to better reflect those that work well. I recommend that you include a UTM tracking code in your URL so that you can better measure performance. This is especially important if you are using closed loop marketing analytics and using more detailed reporting on your campaigns.
Use of QR codes (and not use)
Now that you’ve seen how easy QR codes can be to create, we’d like to share with you some best practices that you can use to increase the likelihood that your QR code will actually be used.
Show your QR code where users can conveniently scan.
Place QR codes in places where scanning is easy and the consumer has ample time to actually scan the code. While you often see QR codes on billboards and television advertisements, they aren’t exactly the most user-friendly places to be. Think of places and media where consumers have time to scan the code, and ideally a Wi-Fi connection too.
Optimize the landing page of the QR for mobile devices.
Optimize the page you send people to for mobile. Consumers will be on their phone when they scan the QR code, so they should be taken to a page with a positive mobile experience.
Add a CTA that will ask users to scan your QR code.
Offer a call-to-action (CTA) with the code – that is, tell people what to do when they see the code and what to get when they do. Not everyone knows exactly what a QR code is and those who do will not be motivated to scan it unless they are sure that something is worth doing on the other side.
Don’t limit your QR code to a mobile scanner.
You don’t need a special QR code scanner. Your QR code should be app independent so anyone can scan your code with any reader. A lower barrier to entry increases success for you and the user.
Use your QR code to make someone’s life easier.
Don’t use a QR code just to use one. For example, marketers often think, “How can I combine the offline experience with the online experience? Uhhh … QR code!” That’s not wrong … but it’s not always right either.
If you have content that makes sense to deliver to a mobile user and you have a suitable channel in place (see Usage # 1 at the beginning of this section), your QR code is more likely to produce results. In South Korea, for example, grocery chain Tesco has seen tremendous national business growth by using QR codes in subway stations (I believe they have a mobile service in their subway stations) to allow drivers to order their groceries can while they wait. It’s a great example of using QR codes for the right end destination in the right place and at the right time.
This Search Engine Journal article has more examples of good times to use QR codes.
If after reading it and you’re not convinced that QR codes are the right step – or you just want some additional ways in which you can connect the offline world to the online world – consider a short, memorable URL too that users can easily add their phones to your creative.
The future of QR codes could also mean an evolution – after all, augmented reality apps are based on the same concept. Consider the AR News app, which allows readers to turn a newspaper story into a kid-friendly article by downloading an app and hovering over stories with a special marker (sounds pretty much like a QR scanner, doesn’t it?).
It may be that QR codes are not completely dead, but only the first step in a long development.
Originally published January 19, 2021 4:36:00 PM, updated January 25, 2021