VerticalResponse Email Marketing Blog for Small Business: QR Codes – What They Are & What They Can Do for Your Business

"QR" codes are all the rage for some businesses – especially retailers. These codes have the ability to hold lots of information but in general have been used to direct people who scan them to a web page. For that reason, there are a ton of possibilities for you to incorporate using QR codes into your own business. Let me try to break it down for you.

What is a QR Code?


The code (pictured to the right) is a code that is made up of black blobs (technical term) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. It is used by many retailers to track inventory, used by airlines to check you in at the gate, but the most exciting thing for small businesses is that these codes can help generate business!

For most mobile phones that have cameras, there are downloadable apps that enable the code to be easily read by just pointing the phone at the code. Once the code is read, the mobile phone will do what you want it to do like opening a web page. If you've got a QR code reader, go ahead and read the code to the right, you'll be taken to the VerticalResponse home page! However, when we use QR codes, we'll direct anyone who scans one to a page that contains much less information since scanning large web pages on a smart phone can be overwhelming.

Practical Applications of a QR Code for Businesses

Screen shot 2011-03-14 at 2.39.29 PM

Get More Customers – When someone scans in the code, take them to a web page where they can get a special deal or a discount for your services. This could work especially well if you've placed the QR code on your retail location to attract new visitors. If you're wanting to get people from online to your location, Tweet the QR code to your followers and send them to a page that has a coupon they'll need to show you in order to redeem.

Grow Your Email List – If you offer something of value like a white paper or a special deal, you can direct anyone who scans the code to a sign up form. In order to receive their deal from you they'll need to give you an email address so you can send them an email that contains the information they're signing up for.

Grow Your Mobile List – Just like growing your email list,  if you want to collect mobile numbers then you'll need them to fill out their phone number so you can send them a text with the information contained in it.

Customer Service Videos – If you've got Screen shot 2011-03-20 at 9.39.07 AM

an informational video about your company, your products or services, you can direct them to a mobile-friendly page where you host the video. The advertisement to the right shows a great example of what people will get if they scan the code and how to get a reader if they don't have one.

Where You Can Put QR Codes to Work!

• Printed advertisements
• Signs
• Sandwich boards or billboards
• Your store or restaurant window
• Datasheets and collateral
• Direct mail postcards
• Product labels
• Business cards
• Take out menus
• Magazine publications
• Inbox shipments
• Endless possibilities

How You Generate Your Very Own QR Codes – for Free – in Seconds

There are a bunch of easy ways you can generate a QR code ( is one of many). You can also use which is a URL shortener combined with a QR code generator. Why is that cool? Because it allows you to track the number of visits to the page where the QR code was read. Make sure you're logged into Google and just type the URL of the page you want to direct people to. You'll then be presented with a newly shortened URL. Once you get your shortened URL, click on "details" and you'll see your very own QR code automatically generated for you. You can then right click and save it as a JPEG or take a screen shot of it (but saving the image as a JPEG will give you the best resolution especially for print). Then use it on any of the materials I've stated above and you'll be able to see clicks generated from the QR code to assess what's working for you.

What People Need to Read Your QR Codes on Their Smart Phones

People who have smart phones will need to be able to download a QR code reader app, many of which are free. I found a great listing at this site called 2d code so check it out.

Have some fun with your own QR Codes and let us know how it worked!

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