QR Codes DeCoded


By Jennifer Graham, Guest Contributor

With more than 5 billion mobile phone users in the world, it’s imperative that your company’s mobile marketing strategy is poised to reach this enormous market. From sms marketing to mobile websites – the mobile marketing landscape is more confusing than ever. With so many new technologies, it’s difficult to keep up. One of the newest entrants into the mobile marketing mix is QR codes. So, what are they and how can you benefit from them?



QR, “Quick Response” or “two-dimensional,” codes are special barcodes that can be read by Smartphones and link users directly to mobile content such as a video, coupon, picture or website. A QR code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. They were originally developed in Japan in 1994 by a Toyota subsidiary to track inventory during manufacturing. Though QR codes have been used in Asia for many years, only recently have they become main stream in the US.

To scan a QR code, the user simply downloads a free scanning application from the App Store on their Smartphone. When the app is opened, it opens the phone’s camera to “scan” the code. Once the code is scanned, the user’s phone browser will automatically redirect them to the content. And if that’s not easy enough, soon scanners will be pre-loaded in most phones.

Benefits and Uses
Because QR Codes provide immediate access to mobile information and allow instant interaction, they are a great addition to any print marketing or advertising campaign. Here are a few examples of the benefits of using QR codes and some examples of how they are currently being used.

  • Get More Information: QR codes on real estate signs to link potential buyers to pricing and pictures
  • Preview a Service: QR codes on movie posters to link patrons to trailers or ticket purchasing
  • Compare Products: QR codes on labels for “how to” demos, coupons, tips and tricks, reviews, etc
  • Purchase Instantly: QR codes next to ads for instant purchase power
  • Drive Website Traffic: QR codes on ads link readers to website
  • Get a Discount: QR codes to download a coupon that can be redeemed on the spot
  • Get Noticed: QR codes on business cards and resumes to link to LinkedIn profile, website, or portfolio

Three Marketing Factors When Creating Your QR Code
When you are ready to create your own QR code, here are three things to remember:

1. PROVIDE VALUE! When customers take the time to scan a code, they want to be rewarded with a coupon or unique content (video, recipe, demo, free trial, etc).

2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! If your market is mainly young, tech-savvy customers, a QR code is great. If your audience consists of older, less sophisticated customers then consider combining QR codes with SMS codes. This will increase user participation by including non-Smartphone (Dumbphone ☺) users.

3. MEASURE YOUR RESULTS! Individuals can create free QR codes with one of the many online generators. However, businesses using QR codes in their marketing and advertising should consider a campaign management platform to track usage, measure effectiveness and analyze results for maximum impact.


Jennifer Graham has worked with Mobile Discovery, a leading mobile and social media technology company, since 2008.  Prior to Mobile Discovery, Jennifer consulted internationally through her own marketing firm, ConsultJMG, with notable projects in Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. Before starting her consulting firm, Jennifer worked for the Linux provider, Red Hat.  As the Global Marketing Manager, she managed international marketing efforts for the offices in Tokyo, Seoul, Mumbai, Sydney, and Beijing.  Jennifer received her Bachelor of Science in Management from Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Virginia Tech) and graduated summa cum laude as Valedictorian of the Pamplin School of Business. She enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family in her spare time. Jennifer currently resides in Washington, DC. Visit the ConsultJMG website at www.consultjmg.com or Mobile Discovery’s website at www.mobilediscovery.com.


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  1. wordpress guy
    April 27th, 2011 14:19  / 

    Nice write up 🙂 I have a QR code on my business card that leads to a page on my website that says ‘Hello, it was nice to have met you!’ haha… always fun!

  2. WebSuccessTeam
    April 27th, 2011 14:22  / 

    🙂 I like the way QR code are opening up a whole new range of creative ideas to “connect”

  3. Chris Stone
    April 28th, 2011 12:22  / 

    Our company manages the print for Santa Barbara’s largest businesses and organizations. While we have seen a few businesses implement QR Codes in their print collateral, it truly is surprising the reluctance of the majority of our customers to implement QR Codes.

    Is it the designers? Is it marketing managers not understanding the technology? A great example of the not understanding the use of QR Codes is one of our customers has a QR Code to their web site – on their web site!

  4. WebSuccessTeam
    April 28th, 2011 12:35  / 

    Qr Codes are still a mystery to many users. I also posted this blog on Linkedin and got a bit of flack from the design community.

  5. Zach LaGreca
    April 28th, 2011 13:04  / 

    Great article! QR codes are cool. Mobile Marketing has a lot to offer brand campaigns. Another great mobile marketing platform is StarStar Numbers from Zoove campaigns. By simply calling **ESPN (**ESPN) from your mobile phone, for example, you hear ESPN’s message and are sent to a link to download a fantasy baseball app. The StarStar Number autodetects the type of phone and sends the correct mobile app for that specific phone – iPhone, Droid, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm etc. It’s interactive, simple and fun: . After calling a StarStar Number and hearing a custom message audio, you are sent a text link that can send you to sweepstakes, videos, coupons, mobile sites – whatever the brand wishes. Thanks again for the article! Creative platforms of engagement is the best way to get customers involved.

  6. Zach LaGreca
    April 28th, 2011 13:05  / 

    @Chris Stone, haha that is a great example of completely missing the point! Made me laugh. I don’t think a lot of businesses understand the importance implementing new technologies effectively in marketing.

  7. Zach LaGreca
    April 28th, 2011 13:08  / 

    For **ESPN, in the post above the numeric equivalent is **3776

  8. WebSuccessTeam
    April 28th, 2011 13:26  / 

    Glad you liked it 🙂

  9. John Evans
    May 5th, 2011 12:26  / 

    Recently seeing that Macy’s (department stores) has integrated QR Codes into their merchandising strategy is a innovative way to connect with their audience. Here shoppers are being encouraged to scan QR’s (attached to items such as clothing) to view videos that “tell a story” about that particular item. People make purchase decisions everyday based on a good story. Now consumers can not only view a video story, they’ll share it with others.

    In my opinion, the key is as Jennifer indicated here, audiences must be given value in exchange for their time. Effectively, it’s behavioral science …every desired behavior deserves a reward.

    Thanks Jennifer

  10. Clément Delangue
    May 6th, 2011 2:49  / 

    Thanks for the article. What do you think also of image-recognition based scanning (look Google Goggles and Moodstocks Notes). Could it replace QR codes in the near future?


  11. WebSuccessTeam
    May 6th, 2011 12:36  / 

    Hi Clément. Thanks for your input. Moodstock Notes is an amazing technology and I am sure there will be a place for everything in this rapidly growing technological climate.


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