QR Codes 101: What They Are and How to Use Them

qr codes

QR codes are everywhere and on just about everything.  But what are they really and how can you use them to boost your revenue?  Many people recognize a QR code when they see one, but they don’t fully understand what they are and how to use them.  Well, today I’m going to be discussing QR codes in great detail.

  • What is a QR code
  • How to create a QR code
  • Common uses for QR codes
  • Unique ways to use QR codes
  • Where not to use a QR code

If you would like to learn all about QR codes and how they can help you build your brand and your brand’s reputation, as well as increasing your revenue while building your customer base, then sit back and buckle-up, because we are going to take you on a journey into the wonderful world of QR codes.

What Is A QR Code?

QR codes, you know, those funny looking little black and white squares you see everywhere and on everything.  Yep, that’s a QR code, but what is a QR code really?  A QR code is a binary barcode (a two dimensional barcode) that is a machine-readable optical label that has embedded information about the item in which it is attached or referring to.

A QR code, which stands for quick response code, takes four standardized encoding methods:  numeric, alphanumeric, byte/ and kanji and uses them to store data efficiently in a condensed area.  It contains dots that are arranged in a square grid with a white background, and that grid can be read by many types of imaging devices, such as a camera or scanner, etc.  That device then processes all information on the grid using Reed-Solomon error correction for interpretation.

How To Create A QR Code

Most people think creating a QR code is difficult and that it’s probably an expensive job for a talented computer programmer; however, that is simply not the case.  QR codes are becoming more popular than ever and so has creating them, all thanks to the ease of use of a QR code generator.  Here is how to create a QR code in just a few simple steps.

1.  Choose A QR Code Generator

There are many different popular QR code generators out there, so all you have to do is pick one.  Here are a few to help get you started:  Kaywa QR CodeQR and Visualead.

2.  Create, Customize And Link

Now that you have your QR code generator ready the fun begins.  Your QR code generator will walk you through the steps for designing your new code.  You can design the code to look like your logo, or in a way that relates to your brand, such as the colors, a theme or by creating social options, etc.  Next you will enter your content, check the preview and continue to customize it until it meets with your satisfaction.  That’s it for the design.  It couldn’t be more simple.

3.  Testing, Tracking And Analyzing The Data

Once you have finished creating your QR code, you will need to test it on several different QR readers to make sure it reads correctly and looks the way you intended.  There are several tools on the market you can use to test your QR code, such as the QR Code Reader and Scanner on the Apple Store.

Now that everything is finished and you’ve rolled out your QR code to the public, you will need to track its performance.  How much traffic are you receiving from each specific QR code you created?  How many people are scanning your code and redeeming your offer, or not?  Closely analyzing every aspect of your data will help you make any changes necessary to improve their performance.  And you can easily track your QR code if you use a UTM QR code tracker such as

Common Uses For QR Codes

QR codes can be placed almost anywhere; however, there are some exceptions, which we will cover later.  But the most common uses for QR codes are as follows:  all types of advertising pieces, restaurant receipts, menus, all your PDF’s, business cards, greeting cards, store windows, food wrappers, stickers, packaging of any kind, art, real estate ads, clothing, etc.

Unique Ways To Use QR Codes

Here are some unique ways to use your QR codes to increase the effectiveness of whatever message you want to get across.

  • On conference or Tradeshow giveaways so people can scan the QR code versus handing them a business card that will more than likely get lost in the shuffle.  Think t-shirts, keychains, note pads, etc.
  • Place on your office or business front door so people can scan the code to learn your hours of operation, phone number, physical address, website or any other information you’d like to include
  • Banners, sun-visors, how-to videos, coupons, tickets, vCard
  • Code payments to store bank account information or credit card information
  • As a website login
  • A QR code that takes you to where you can download an app
  • Wrapping paper imaging your custom QR code
  • QR codes (remembrance codes) are now even being used on tombstones

Where Not To Use A QR Code

It’s easy to get carried away once you have created an epic QR code, because you want everyone to see it right?  Well, you really need to stop and think about where you are placing your new QR code before you proceed.  Here are some examples of bad places to put a QR code:  on an email, a billboard or any other far away object, on the subway or anywhere there’s no signal, on a belt buckle (think awkward), any moving object or linking your QR code to a non-mobile friendly site.