QR Codes Add New Dimension To Mobile Marketing

QR codes connect paper advertisements with online content. This technology provides a dynamic new way to connect with customers by providing them with both relevant content and enticing offers.

Remember going on a shopping trip and seeing a new, funny-looking barcode? These barcodes, or QR codes have begun to appear all over the United States in paper advertisements, on business cards and even on T-shirts. These unusual bar codes are basically paper-based hyperlinks used for mobile marketing. Using their smart phone camera, consumers can scan the QR code and be directed to different types of information about a company.

Some codes direct smart phone users to the company's website. Other codes, such as the codes on a business card, provide contact information, white papers or links to a Facebook page. Apps for both iPhones and Android phones allow users to scan these codes whether they're on a magazine advertisement or a sign at a retail store.

QR codes have been popular in Europe and Japan for some time. The technology was actually invented in 1994 by a Toyota subsidiary to track vehicles through the manufacturing process. The codes have been adapted by different companies for a variety of purposes. In Japan, for instance, McDonalds prints QR codes on their food packaging that lead consumers directly to the product's nutrition information. Now, these codes are rapidly finding their way into the American marketplace. For example, when the movie Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull came out, advertisers included QR codes on the movie posters that provided users with a link to the movie trailer. In addition, users received a discount coupon for their concession purchase.

Some additional marketing uses for QR codes include:

--Providing a map for customers with directions to a store or office

--Placing a QR code in a marketing email or on a webpage to lead customers to additional promotions or additional content

--Using codes to create a virtual loyalty program in which customers receive special offers on dedicated landing pages after they scan the QR codes on a printed advertisement

--Linking codes to product information and reviews

--Using QR codes to link customers to a company's Facebook fan page or to a Twitter feed

QR codes may also be used to track customer metrics. For instance, scanned codes can let companies know which of their advertisements are most effective by tracking which advertisement drove customers to a particular landing page. Another example concerns companies that provide offers on the backs of receipts. QR codes can provide customers with links that provide additional discounts and offers. When these receipts are linked to a customer's CRM information, companies can then use that information to tailor marketing to the individual customer.

Many free code generators exist online to give sole proprietors or smaller companies the ability to generate their own QR codes to use on webpages, business cards or print advertisements. Digitally connecting paper-based content with online content is a powerful marketing tool for companies of all sizes. For people who have little experience with mobile marketing, QR codes are an easy introduction into the world of mobile advertising.