Have you ever noticed those funky-looking black and white squares posted all over the place these days? The ones on business cards, flyers, floors, telephone poles, if you can stick something to it, there’s one there. Well, those are QR codes and they do in fact serve a fairly important purpose to the people that created them. If you don’t know what a QR code is, you are not alone, so let’s talk about it.
What is a QR code?
QR code stands for “quick response” code. It is a square-shaped black and white symbol that can be scanned by a smartphone or laser to learn more about a company, service, product, etc. These squares are encrypted with information and can hold anything from links, coupons, event details, images, and more.
While most QR codes are shaped like a perfect square, not all of them are. Some consist of colors, logos, or unique patterns inside. QR codes are taking over the real world, displayed on things like business cards, billboards, signs, doors, direct mail, you name it.
Are QR codes safe?
With anything digital, things can be hacked or used with malicious intentions, and unfortunately, QR codes are no different. Attackers can embed harmful URLs containing custom malware which could compromise your device when it scans the code. QR codes are an easy target as humans cannot read them, so it is easy for them to be altered to point to a different source. The good news is QR codes themselves cannot be hacked, so make sure you only scan one that comes from a trusted source.
How does a QR code work?
A QR code is super simple for a consumer to use. They simply take out their smartphone, open the camera and scan the square to be led to a page that holds even more information about what they read or saw. You can lead someone to any page you want, whether it be your website, a special landing page, a form, etc.
Are barcodes and QR codes the same thing?
While both barcodes and QR codes can be scanned using a smartphone or laser, they are not the same exact thing. QR codes can be scanned by almost any smartphone, while barcodes typically require a special app or tool to be scanned. Traditional barcodes are commonly used to manage product inventory or identify consumer packaged goods (CPG), while QR codes are not typically used for that purpose, and usually hold different and more data such as links to landing pages, graphics, or other helpful content. This is not the only way they differ though. They also differ in the form they come in as QR codes often come in the form of a square, and barcodes are typically rectangular.
How to create a QR code
Creating a QR code is pretty easy and can be done in just a few steps!
1. Figure out where you want to drive your audience
There are many QR code generators out there that work similarly, but this QR code generator is a popular and easy one to use. The first thing you need to know is what you want to promote so you can select the type of content you want your QR code to show someone after they scan it.
2. Choose a static or dynamic QR Code
When you create a static QR code, you can’t edit the data after, meaning once it is printed and posted everywhere, the information someone sees when they scan it cannot be changed. If you choose a dynamic QR code, you can modify the information after you have made it and shared it with people. This generator breaks out the different kinds you can use in two categories, dynamic and static, for you to easily choose.
3. Input the data in the form
When you select what type of data you want to put in your QR code, such as a URL, you will be taken to a field or form for you to input your data.
4. Make it yours
Now for the fun part of any marketing job, the customization and designing portion. You can choose to leave your QR code as-is, which is a black and white square, or you can get creative and use your logo, different shapes or patterns and even change the colors. This is your chance to make your QR code stand out and draw your audience’s attention. One thing to note is that the more you customize your code, the harder it may be for apps or smartphones to read it. If you do want to customize to your heart’s desire, it is recommended that you design two versions, a plain one and your customized one to ensure you have one that works properly.
5. Test your QR code and then test it again
This is a very important step you do not want to skip. Ensure your QR code is working properly and displaying what you intended by testing it out yourself. Don’t stop there either, test it out using different devices to make sure it works as expected.
6. Start spreading the news
Once you have created your QR code and tested it to make sure it works properly, you are ready to share it with the world. You can share it wherever you want, including but not limited to physical locations such as printed ads, clothing, tables, or even on TV. Anywhere someone can use their phone to scan it works!
7. Last but not least: analytics
You want to make sure your time and efforts did not go to waste, so make sure you track the success of your QR codes. While the QR code generator will tell you how many scans a code has, it would be wise to use a UTM tracking code on your link so you can measure even more, such as time spent on the page, if they navigated through your website further, etc.
Now that you know what a QR code is, how it works and how to make one, it’s your time to shine. Go create your QR codes and show the world what you have to offer.