As the number of smartphone users continues to increase – Access Group recently predicted smartphones will overtake PCs by 2013 – QR codes are turning up in all sorts of odd places.
A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response) is a 2D barcode consisting of black modules on a squared pattern that usually encode a specific web URL, usually relating to a product or brand. Originally devised to help the Japanese automotive industry track components in factories, the codes can be scanned by a reader (or smartphone camera) to access data linked to the specific code pattern.
To scan QR codes, smartphone users will need to download a free QR code reader from a website such as Kaywa. The app scans the code and instantly fires up a browser pointing to the specified site, which can contain text or multimedia sound and imagery. Kaywa and other sites such as iCandy let you create your own QR codes that can be used for a wide range of marketing and promotion purposes. The UK ranks sixth for QR code use, and the distinctive square graphics are popping up in newspapers, on television, products and even business cards.
In response to a recent Any Answers query from FirstTab, AccountingWEB member ACDWebb showed one practical example, by creating one himself that takes you to our Any Answers page.
You can use QR codes to market your company in a number of ways. Rather than simply providing a link to your website (although if you do, remember to link to a mobile version of your site), QR codes are most effectively used to provide exclusive information to the user, such as giveaways, discounts or free tickets. As a firm, you can display your QR code on business cards, marketing materials and storefront windows but for most effective marketing, be creative with where you place them or what you link them to.
Bill Sheridan of the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) recently contributed an article to AccountingWEB.com discussing how CPAs there are using QR codes, for example:
- to direct prospective and current clients to resources that promote an area of expertise
- to send clients to a web page full of information and resources needed to prepare documents for their tax returns; and
- to send users an archive of social posts on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
On this side of the Atlantic, the responses to FirstTab's Any Answers post on the subject were more ambivalent.