How Next Gen QR codes – a precursor of augmented reality – can propel your sales

Next gen QR codes are quiet, powerful connectors. In business and in the digital world, QR codes are now in their teen years and ready to come into their own, mainly due to their intrinsic integrative nature.

QR codes have generally been underused, especially in the U.S. marketplace. Those they figure QR codes are outdated, miss the point. QR codes are actually a precursor – a first step – in augmented reality (AR), which merges the physical world with the digital world, layering a communication (such as a marketing message) on top of, next to, and within other communications.

QR codes can help you bring more power to your printed materials and collateral, as well as  your digital marketing efforts, as your multiple marketing vehicles work in unison.

The history and evolution of QR Codes

The QR code has evolved along with the changing digital marketplace.

Since 2011, when QR codes really took off in business communications, the QR code has been gaining in popularity as one of the most creative and innovative ways to market your business, connect with other business professionals, and perhaps most uniquely, to integrate your live events and promotions with your digital marketing efforts.

In 2011, QR code creation jumped an incredible 1,253%, with two million of them created in less than three months. In 2012, the QR Code won a prize in the Media for Industry category of the Good Design Award established in Japan to comprehensively promote industrial design.

QR codes are popping up everywhere, virtual shopping malls are showing up in train stations, but now they’re actually in the malls. Retailers are seeing QR codes as another avenue to get that sale they might have missed in store.

Statistia reports that in 2018, in the US alone there have been an estimated 9.76 million households that have scanned a QR code. By 2020, that number is expected to rise to 11 million U.S. households.

A episode where QR codes played a central role was even featured on the TV show NCIS recently.

iPhones and iPads (iOS devices) are still the most popular devices being used for scanning our QR codes and, since 2014, have increased their lead over Android devices (phones and tablets) by 5-10% with most of that increase having come at the expense of Windows devices (down from 10-14% of total in 2014 to 3-5% of total in 2017) and Blackberry devices (down from 1-2% of total to basically nothing now).

Major companies are starting to use Next Gen QR codes

Recently, major companies like Apple, Microsoft (via LinkedIn), and Sodyo have taken QR codes to the next level – enabling them to be used more directly for making connections, for sales, and for payments. And, mobile application giants like Snapchat, Facebook and Spotify have started to utilize QR Codes to simplify the user experience. In the last year, Forbes Magazine has carried a number of articles about the evolution of the QR code, including “Apple Just Made QR Codes A Must Have For Your Strategy.”

Like a child becoming a teenager, over the last decade, the look of the QR code has also grown up right in front of our eyes.

What are QR codes?

The QR (Quick Response) code is the trademark name for the two dimensional barcode system. It was originally invented way back in 1994 by Denso Wave, a business unit of Toyota. They used it as a way to track vehicles in their assembly line and to scan auto components at high speeds. Fast forward 24 years… Now, QR codes are primarily used in sales and marketing.

There are many free QR generators where you can make your own basic QR codes. These include qr-code-generator.com, qrstuff.com, qrcode-monkey.com, and many others. QR codes can be in full color, in a certain shape, animated. or embedded with something other than a link to a particular url. For example, on qrcode-monkey, you can create QR codes to use for urls and text, and in/on emails, phone, SMS messages, VCards, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, at an event, via WIFI, or even on various cryptocurrency platforms like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin and Dash.

To scan a QR code requires a QR code scanner. You can download one for free at the Play Store. Some of the most popular are QR Scanner & Barcode Generator, Barcode Scanner Pro, QR Code Reader and Lightning QRcode Scanner. If you have an IPhone, a QR code scanner is already built in within the Control Center.

In September 2017, Apple included a QR Code scanner on the iOS 11 and they have installed them in all of their IPhones since. This eliminates the need for iPhone users to download a third party app and it signals Apple’s acknowledgement of the importance of next gen QR codes in driving business and doing business in the future.

Read more about the history of the QR code here.

How you can use QR codes for marketing

The beauty of the QR code is in its simplistic power.

QR codes are an effective way to integrate your print pieces and live events with your website, and ultimately to increase your website traffic and sales. You can create a unique code for any page on your website, for a landing page, or directly to the url for specific products or services in your shopping cart. You can place a QR code virtually anywhere, including: on business cards, sales collateral, signs at conferences and trade shows, or directly on videos or live advertising. You can put a QR code on the side of a vehicle or on a billboard.

Think of QR codes as a way to invite people to join you at a certain place – in physical reality or online.

You can place QR codes on an invitation or direct mail piece to take those invited to a RSVP page or payment page. This works well for booking conferences, seminars and training courses, or for any kind of attendance tracking.

You can also use a QR code to drive people to a survey, or to vote. QR codes are ideal for targeted marketing, for example, when you have different messages and marketing campaigns geared for your various target audiences.

In his blog article “5 Genius Examples of QR Code Marketing,” marketing guru Neil Patel suggests using QR codes for these purposes:

– Ads for apps (he notes Instagram and Angry Birds as successful examples)
– Greeting cards and mix tapes
– Museum (kiosk, or trade show) interactions
– Personalized gift messages and wrapping paper
– Remembrance codes.

Patel even wonders if QR codes will one day be used on tombstones.

As a marketer, it’s good to know the specifications for QR Codes:
– The QR code does not have to be shown just in black and white, but most of them are.
– If you’re placing a QR code on a printed piece (like on a business card or brochure), make sure it’s a least
1cm (0.4 inches) across in the viewport of the scanning device. As the distance between the camera and the QR code increases, the size of the QR code will need to increase as well.
– The simple formula is Minimum QR Code Size = Scanning Distance / 10
– According to QRStuff.com, “for most smartphones, the relationship between scan distance and minimum QR code size is approximately 10:1 so a 2.5cm (1 inch) QR code printed in a magazine will have a nominal effective scan distance of about 250mm (10 inches), and a QR code on a billboard 20 meters (65 feet) from the where a passer-by would be scanning it would probably need to be about 2 meters (6.5 feet) across.”
– If you’re placing a QR code within a frame in a video or broadcast ad, in a live streaming session, or on a sign or billboard, we suggest that you create a QR code, print it out, and test it to make sure the size works from the distance where it will usually be scanned.

How you can use QR codes for networking

In addition to traditional marketing and digital marketing, networking is perhaps the oldest and most effective way to get noticed and to develop new business. QR codes provide a simple way to leave your information with someone you meet – in a digital way so it will be stored on their smartphone and can easily be retrieved.

Did you know that you already likely have your own personal QR code? It’s true.

If you have a LinkedIn Profile, then you have a QR code. To find yours, use the LinkedIn app on your smartphone to go to the search bar. You will see a tiny QR code graphic. Press that and it takes you to your QR code. You can save a copy to your Gallery. You can also share your QR code via text message, social media or email. At an event, for example, a new contact can pull up their LinkedIn QR code and you can scan it right there, or vice versa.

Read a Gadget 360 article about LinkedIn QR codes (June 2018).

How you can use QR codes for payments and sales

Payments via QR codes are already becoming more widespread in other countries, such as Japan, using smartphone apps, like Rakuten Pay or Line Pay. In addition, in Japan, the UK and Australia, QR codes are being used in public in a series of small billboards – and on kiosks –  to provide direct links to products for sale (see photo below). Here in the U.S., companies like coins.ph are helping small consumers make cashless payments by scanning QR codes. Some companies put a QR code on their bills to make paying fast and easy.

With so many different marketing vehicles out there for you to choose from, helping you to ensure that your marketing vehicles are integrated is the QR code’s main job.

A May 2018 article on PYMNTS.com asks:

“What if QR Codes could transition consumers seamlessly between the online and offline worlds, blurring the lines between physical and digital retail, and ingraining shopping as part of the everyday experience?”

Answer: The next generation of scannable codes will do just that. They will “leverage a color matrix that can be scanned from afar and renders well on TV screens.”

 

Ron Yagur, COO & VP of Engineering at Sodyo, one of the companies that is pioneering next generation QR codes, recently remarked that in the future “scanners won’t have to read the whole code — just the connection points between colors. That’s what makes it possible to scan them from afar, and it makes the scanning process go much faster.” He notes the increased use of QR codes in broadcast ads and on computer and TV screens.

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Why not have a brainstorming session to see how next gen QR codes can add another layer to your marketing campaigns, or give us at call at (702) 478-8587 and we can discuss some ideas with you. We are here to help you market your business more effectively – in terms of your results and your budget.

We’re located in West Las Vegas at 1725 South Rainbow Blvd, Suite 16, Las Vegas, NV 89146. In addition to our local clients, we also work on projects for many companies traveling to Las Vegas for business. We love to please you and deliver customized marketing and promotional materials to any hotel or convention center in Las Vegas where you are attending or holding a meeting, trade show, expo, or special event.

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