Five Ways You Can Get Started With QR Code Marketing Quick response codes are getting a lot of positive buzz these days. Can they bring some to your business?

By Starr Hall

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

New ways to reach potential customers seem to emerge online every hour, so it's little wonder that some of these technology tools are ignored. One of the latest and most useful forms of marketing called Quick Response codes, or QR codes, is living up to its name, however, and getting just that -- a very quick response.

A QR code is a specific two-dimensional code, readable by a dedicated QR bar code reader, camera phone, or smartphone. With their reliance on bar codes, QR codes do not represent a new technology by any means. But they're on the 21st-century marketing hot list for reshaping the one-way bar-code system to make it more interactive.

The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The encoded information that an end user can receive might be text, a URL, or other data. It could even be the URL for a Facebook fan page. The medium was developed to allow content to be decoded at high speed.

At first, I didn't pay much attention to QR codes. But after I tried a few and started to see how they worked and what businesses used them for, I began to understand not only the value in bar-code marketing but also the huge potential for businesses, large and small.

Related: A Quick Roundup of QR Code Tools

So how does this translate into a marketing vehicle that can help you grow your business? It is simple: Entice your prospects and invite them to explore further by offering QR codes on your brochures, cards, or even your storefront. In having consumers scan the code with a phone, they are interacting with your company from the first point of contact -- a vital step for connecting people with your brand.

After they've scanned in your bar code, you can send them your offer via this code. Violà, you have now started to build a relationship with them, and they have been brought into your circle of influence.

Those thinking of dabbling in the QR arena should know it really isn't that difficult or time-consuming and, more important, it can cost little or nothing. Here are five steps to move you in the right direction so that you can start getting a quick response.

Step 1: Decide where you want to offer the code for scanning. Will you put it on a poster on your storefront, a direct mail piece, a for-sale sign, or your products? You can also include it on invitations and business cards. Make it easy for prospects to access and visible from all angles.

Step 2: Determine what your message is. Where do you want to send those receiving the code? Or what do you want to give them? Think about what action you want them to take once they land on the website or receive the information. Do you want their email address? Or do you just want them to like a fan page or engage by answering a question? You can also offer specials or discounts. Put the code on a product and send readers to an online site to place an order.

Related: How ShareSquare Is Leading the QR-Code Marketing Pack

Step 3: Create your code: There are hundreds of sites that now offer QR code creation services. Some charge; most don't. The ones that charge are usually pushing marketing services to accompany the QR code creation -- something to consider but not necessary. If you do opt for help with marketing your QR code, ask the vendor to cite some case history successes as well as challenges. It is important to know what worked and what did not. Always learn from other peoples' QR mistakes.

Here is a sampling of QR sites:

Step 4: Brand and market your QR code. Be creative but remember you want consumers to not only receive the information quickly but also to take action right away. You can draw in prospects with an offer to visit a storefront or a website. Free stuff is always good. Discounts work, too. You could even incorporate the QR code into an entertaining game. A treasure hunt might be fun.

Step 5: Track your progress. You need to take the time to measure the outcome of your QR code campaign. When you create your code, make sure that analytics or tracking will be available, whether it's measuring the number of scans or another activity by the hour or day. Some forms of tracking allow you to see what type of device people used for their scan as well. If you are using a URL for your QR code, you can make it one specific for this campaign and then track it with Google Analytics.

Whether you decide to implement QR codes into your marketing plan, they are definitely worth experiencing as a user. Scan a few offered by other businesses or check out some examples online to see how they work for you as a consumer. This is an excellent way to become familiar with the medium and get those creative marketing juices flowing.

Related: Five Ways to Use Twitter for Marketing That You Might Not Know About

Starr Hall is a social media strategist, international author and speaker and Associate Partner- Search & Media with Level, A Rosetta Company

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