Here we discuss the various aspects of Internet Marketing as it applies to the design of web sites, what it is, why you should be actively engaged in it and some tips on how you might be able to go about developing and implementing your own internet marketing strategy when designing your website.

The practicalities of using QR codes

The practicalities of using QR codes

The first thing you must understand is that the QR code is in the image and the more text you are converting to a QR code, the more detail in the image. The ability QR reader is to scan that image successfully is dependent on a number of factors:

  1. the size of the QR code image (physical dimensions)
  2. the resolution/quality of the image
  3. the amount of text converted 

Now in the simplest case of converting a Web URL to a QR code, the result is a QR code with your URL displayed as a graphic image which is just fine stop however, few other matters you might like to consider are as follows:

  • how can you track your QR code identifying how many people are using it
  • what if you want to set the QR code to point to a different URL without changing the QR code image
  • how can you squeeze your long URL into less text (making the QR code less complex and easier to read)
  • is it possible to beautify or customise your QR code image
  • what other uses are therefore the QR codes in the mobile environment

Quite simply - QR codes are two-dimensional bar code,  You may use them for sharing a variety of data such as contact info, website address or directions to a location embedded within any media but most commonly, print media. "QR" stands for "Quick Response", as the code can be scanned and decoded at high speed. With the appropriate QR Reader software installed on your camera phone it shows that embedded data on the phone in the relevant application relating to the type of data shared.

QR codes are very efficient and make use of the vertical dimension to store more data. Whilst most popular in Japan, they are used throughout the world and are becoming more popular within the advertising industry in a wide variety of interesting ways. They can be used in print advertisements, billboards, maps, business cards, product tags etc.

QR Code Size

It is important to understand that it is not the size of the QR code image that determines the minimum size of your QR code. You QR Code is made up of modules (the little black squares you see making up the pattern)  and it is the size of these module combined with you r phone camera scanning resolution that will determine whether the code can be read by the device.

Essentially the more data you put into your QR code, the more rows and columns of modules will be required in the QR code to compensate for larger amount of text data making up your QR code. Thus, depending on the amount of data converted which determines the number of modules and the physical representation of the QR Code image will determine your QR Reader’s scanning success based on your cameras resolution. Simply put – too much data squeezed into too small an image results in an unreadable QR Code.

Of course this is also impacted by the scanning distance – the distance the phone is held away from the QR code image. The further away the QR code is, the smaller it appears in the camera viewport, and so the smaller the modules will appear too. Once again, if the camera is held too far away, the modules become too small for the camera to read and the QR code won’t work.

A word of advice, for more complex (larger QR Codes, the longer it will take to scan and the more stable your camera needs to be so if you suffer the shakes holding your camera one handed, grasp it in 2 hands for the more complex codes.

For a more detailed explanation of recommended sizes go to http://www.qrstuff.com/blog/2011/11/23/qr-code-minimum-size

Courtesy of that article we provide the following examples to give you an idea of what QR codes look like as their data load gets higher, resulting in the modules getting smaller and the QR code image becoming more dense.

How can you track your QR Codes

Basically there are a few approaches

  1. Set up you own URL’s and using a URL shortener For this the easiest is probably Google Analytics URL Creator and combine this with your favoured URL shortener such as bit.ly
  2. Bit.ly and Google’s own URL shortener actually will generate a QR Code for you although the image is rather small and may not be so widely useful. Word of caution: Google URL shortener URL’s and analytics are PUBLIC and accessible by anyone.
  3. Use one of the commercial QR Code generators that offer extensive built in tracking and analytics over their codes. Check these out closely as some charge, some are free and the rest are a mix with the quality of features varying. Two we found very impressive were http://www.freeqrcodetracker.com , www.azonmobile.com  and www.tagginn.com

It is essential to keep the amount of text you are converting into a QR Code to a minimum. For instance a vCard typically needs 240 – 270 characters while a URL may be 100 or characters. With use of URL shorteners, you can squeeze a URL down considerably and with some offering customisation of the URL created you can create tiny URL’s that may be a bit more meaningful.

Customising your QR Codes

No they don’t have to be black and white and yes you can not only use some colour but you can embed logos and icons. This is not always freely available but some of the QR generators such as www.azonmobile.com do offer this.

QR codes in colour Custom QR code Custom branded QR codes  

www.qrstuff.com offer an interesting feature which is to password protect access to the QR Code destination through the QR provider themselves.

The free QR code generator at www.azonmobile.com/qrcode-generator is probably one of the most robust and broadest featured free generators I have seen and I would thoroughly recommend this for a close look at.

Uses for QR Codes

What uses can you put your QQ Codes to? The limitations are only those set by your imagination. But to give you some idea here are some of our ideas for where you could make use of QR Codes.

Branded QR codes

Here’s a list of the top applications that I feel have the best combination of practicality, cost and impact:

  1. Maps and signage – “point and find” or “you are here” – this can work well at events, theme parks are large complexes – where someone might need specific guidance to get to something, quickly. You can even create forms of engagement for virtual treasure hunts, or “find your nearest”
    QR codes in Real Estate
  2. Coupons and special deals - obvious and likely to become the most exploited, allow users to redeem offers in specific locations, ideally with a time limited offer so they act now
  3. In-store drive to web – when retail experiences can be so bland, imagine bringing content into that space that offers a richer experience (not a hard sell), check out the PUMA case study at the foot of this post for a great example of this one
  4. How-to advice – Rich advice based content in the form of “How to” video or maybe audio – great for DIY or interior design, even recipes and cooking advice, maybe a bottle of wine at a restaurant
  5. After sales care – ever struggled to assemble flat packed furniture or wondered where the specific help area is for the product you have, maybe you just want to add to the “new purchase” experience by having a value-add waiting online for that new consumer or use it for activating a guarantee with data capture
  6. Direct response mechanic on any advertising (press, TV, outdoor media, direct mail or brochures) – do ensure the landing page appreciates where I’ve come from, that’s a wasted opportunity and can be limiting for the user
  7. E-ticketing – with the ease of creating QR codes, you can issue e-tickets easily enough and have that scanned from your phone to enable access
    E-Ticketing with QR Codes

 If you would like to investigate or implement a marketing strategy around the use of QR codes then Top Left Designs are well positioned to talk to you about the various options and how to put your QR Code marketing strategy together. 

 

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