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Are you noticing QR codes everywhere these days? I sure am. The square black-and-white images that look a little like “squiggly” bar codes are popping up on store window displays, in magazines and newspapers and on packages (I noticed one on my box of cereal today while eating breakfast). QR stands for “quick response,” so when users scan a QR code with their smartphones, they go straight to the code’s website without the hassle of searching or typing in a URL.
For a busy small business owner, QR codes might seem like something you can afford to ignore. True, they haven’t yet gained wide acceptance, but based on how many more QR codes I’m seeing lately, you at least need to explore them—particularly if you market to men.
A recent comScore survey found that only 6.2 percent of mobile users scan QR codes. But keep in mind that the percentage of Internet users on Twitter is also relatively small (just 13 percent, according to Pew data), yet Twitter has proven to be a beneficial marketing tool for many small businesses.
Just as Twitter users tend to be desirable customers, comScore reports the average QR code scanner is affluent (more than 33 percent have annual incomes over $100,000). Men are more likely than women to scan QR codes, and the age group between 25 and 34 is twice as likely as other age groups to scan QR codes.
If you think QR codes could benefit your business, here are five tips to get you started.
1. Offer something of value
Don’t just use a QR code to drive users to your website homepage. Create a landing page just for that QR code and provide something special there they can’t get anywhere else—whether it’s a video, a contest they can enter or a free report. Tailor the offering to your market. If your target users are college kids, a funny video tied into your product or service might work. If your target users are corporate executives, a free report is more likely to sway them.
2. Create a call to action
Some users might just see a QR code and snap it, but you can’t count on that happening. Increase your chances of getting users to your site by explaining how they’ll benefit by scanning the code.
3. Help users read it
You also need to explain how users can scan the code, since not all are familiar with how QR codes work. There are many free QR reader apps that your customers can download to their phones; including one from AT&T.
4. Get the code
Generating the actual QR code is easy. ScanTag is a popular code generator that also has a platform for managing your codes and mobile sites; it offers a 30-day free trial. Google has a free QR code generator—just enter the URL that you want users to visit.
5. Put codes everywhere
Users scan QR codes wherever they happen to be—which includes outdoors, in stores, while traveling or at home. According to comScore, the most popular sources of QR codes are newspapers and magazines, but you can put them in your store, on business cards, on mailers, on packaging, on bills or on receipts. Get creative!