The retrieval of deals, obtaining details, offers, and the location of a company and its products and services is becoming easier through the use of Quick Response (QR) codes. These two-dimensional codes are being utilized to allow ease of access to Web sites via the mobile web. QR codes are more practical than barcodes due to the thousands of alphanumeric characters of information that they can hold. So why are QR codes important to marketers? Simplicity. Curiosity. Interactive.

Simplicity: How do QR codes make marketing more simple? Well first off, the QR code can be placed on any medium including magazines, busses, restaurant windows, posters, museums, etc. From the consumer's perspective, extracting the information in form of a QR code is as easy as taking a picture. The process of using a QR code is simple: a consumer sees the code on a billboard, magazine page, side of a bus, etc. and scans it with a smartphone that has the necessary barcode-reading software. After being exposed to the Web site, giveaway, video, contest, etc, the consumer can be a part of that Web site’s list without even having to remember the URL. Melanie Attia, email marketing expert and product manger for Campaigner explains on that from the marketer’s perspective, "QR codes are small, easy to print and extremely low cost. Email marketers can code these 2D barcodes with direct links to email subscription opt-in pages." To create a QR code all you have to do is find a provider that can create them for you. There are some providers that provide free QR code creators and there are also providers that need a fee, especially for fancy QR codes such as this one from Time magazine.

Some free tools you can use to create a QR code are:

Mobile Barcodes



A quick tip, if you are creating a QR code, make sure that the code can be read on all types of smartphones; some are only Android or iPhone compatible.

Curiosity: Curiosity is often what allows consumers to learn more about a new product, service, or company. What about a new way to find out about these items? We think of barcodes as the beginning to the massive purchase you are about to make at the cashier; however, barcodes are showing up all around us. Consumers are fascinated by the notion that we can use our smartphones to scan these barcodes and we can stumble upon Web sites, contests, giveaways, and more. From a survey by Lab42, an online consumer research company, 43% of respondents indicated that they scanned a QR code due to their curiosity of what is behind the QR code. A great example of curiosity is the use of QR codes as your airline boarding pass. A simple barcode scanner and your smartphone are all you need to get on your flight. Who doesn’t want to save time looking for that big boarding pass in the hustle and bustle of the airport? Without a doubt, any form of a barcode that doesn’t have a distinct “cause” behind it will always make a consumer curious to what the end result will be. Take for instance a t-shirt that just has a QR code on it, and says “scan me;” now who doesn’t want to scan that?

Interactive: QR codes allow consumers to interact with the marketing collateral. Having the Web site or product offers at one’s fingertips is an experience and QR codes allow that to happen. By having the consumer scan the barcode, you as a marketer have already grasped the consumer’s attention. Consumers are now wearing t-shirts with barcodes saying “friend me, “ “follow me,” “ask me” and more. QR codes are changing the way consumers interact with marketing collateral and companies. Being able to have the consumer engaged in what you are selling or promoting is extremely beneficial and QR codes are the answer.

No doubt about it, QR codes will enhance and probably be able to hold up to double the information in the next fiscal year. I hope that marketers take advantage of this cost-effective, easy-to-use, curiosity starter, interactive revolution.