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How to use QR codes to promote your website and business

by Matt Atkinson on July 11, 2011 , No comments

What are QR codes?

QR Code

An example of a QR code. Scan it with your phone to see where it takes you.

QR codes are ‘quick response codes’ offering plenty of opportunity to link digital and print media. Instead of having to manually type in long URLs, you can simply scan a code with your phone to instantly open a web page, show a phone number, connect to a wireless network and much more. There are plenty of QR code apps across the major brands, and QR codes will also work with a number of standard camera phones. If you’re interested in finding out more about the technical aspects of QR codes, check out the Wikipedia article <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qr_code> .

How do I make QR codes?

Most of the ideas below involve just creating a QR code of your URL, which is free and easy to do using this tool <http://createqrcode.appspot.com/> .

How can I use QR codes?

You can use QR codes in scavenger hunts, word and number games, advertising, networking and much more. Rather than handing out a leaflet or business card with details that may change, you can control the website behind the QR code to update prices, services, contact details and so on whenever you need to. QR codes are small and so take up less space than listing all your information, you can create them for free, and you can even get tracking statistics to find out when (and how) they are used.

There are plenty of ways to use QR codes both online and offline, whether you’re a freelancer, have a physical shop, are organising a conference, or hundreds of other things. Some of the most useful ways to use QR codes in print media include:

On signs, posters and leaflets

As a way to include more information for people to in view real-time without feeling swamped by text or needing to buy a new one with up to date details.

On business cards

A great way to get your contact details or website across to potential clients, who can view them straight away. You can use your phone number or email address in place of an URL to encourage direct communication without the person having to laboriously type in your details and save them for later.

To expand on product details

Put QR codes next to the prices on your products for customers to scan and find out more information about the product (such as origins, stock availability etc.), or even use it to suggest other products for cross-selling and up-selling.

In magazine and newspaper ads

As well as providing more details or a quick link to your website, you could also offer exclusive discount codes. If you have a physical shop, customers could show you the code when they come to purchase in store rather than have to print coupons out, or you could even automate the entire discount process online.

In your shop window

Attract passers-by with a QR code offering a mysterious or limited-edition discount code that they have to scan to reveal.

On letterheads and invoices

Remind people who you are after they’ve met you or used your services, and help them access your website easily from their phone.

On promotional goods and office supplies

For example bookmarks, drink coasters and mugs. Whether you give them away or have them for staff and client use, QR codes can work really well on everyday objects.

On your products

You can even add QR codes on your products or packaging.

On portable devices


Get QR code stickers printed to stick on the back of your notebook, tablet or mobile phone for when you’re on the go or visiting clients.

On printables

If you offer downloads such as PDFs and whitepapers on your website, include a QR code on them – particularly if people outside your company are likely to use them as resources or handouts.

With downloads

If you offer zipped resources such as fonts, designs or scripts on your website, include a QR code image in the folder. People are likely to take more notice of an image than a readme file.

For events and locations

Use QR codes on invites or tickers to direct visitors to Google Maps locations, further details about the event/location, or even a Facebook Event listing so you can keep track of who’s going.

For speeches and conferences

If you’re speaking at a conference, put a QR code up on the screen to direct people to your Twitter account or website. If you’re organising a conference, display a QR code before the start for people to easily connect to the venue’s Wi-Fi.

To increase membership

Invite people to sign up for your email list or membership on the spot even when they’re away from their computer.

For instant feedback and real-time communication

Use QR codes for real time ratings and reviews at conferences, restaurants, shows and much more. Give the audience/customers/visitors the ability to comment on the show straight away, and combine with social media for people to interact at a venue.

To offer extras

QR codes present lots of opportunities for offering extra content such as videos, previews, and samples. If you’re in a band or write music reviews, provide a link to the video you’re talking about. At events, you could offer something like a free drink, a small resource pack of useful links, a link to a video of the talk, a song download or similar.

To ‘watermark’ images

Adding a mini QR code to your design can direct people to more information about you and your work.

To direct visitors to mobile resources

You can easily direct users to a mobile tool or mobile-friendly website using a QR code in an email or on a blog. It’s also often the easiest way to direct visitors to a specific app for their phone.

For check ins

Directing visitors to social media sites such as Foursquare and Facebook to check in to events helps friends and contacts keep track of who’s arrived.

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