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Effective QR code techniques for your business

30th Nov 2011
Contributing Editor accountingWEB
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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 KaywaThe 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, 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.

“You could get the scanned code to automatically sign someone up to a newsletter or factsheets by getting the code to send them to a lading page which can read the information stored in their phone and obtain their email address,” suggested dbowleracca. “Convenience is everything in today’s society and if you can get them to your wait quicker and easier it’s got to be a good thing.”

Like ACDWebb, Lee Stevens conducted some experiments with do-it-yourself QR codes and found a use very similar to their original purpose in helping to compile a fixed asset register. Although he never completed it, he did print out codes and stick them on all his firm’s kit.

“This had a twofold effect - we found quite a few assets had been scrapped (usually broken PCs or printers) and now if we scrap or sell, for example, a printer of which we own five identical models, we can scan the QR code and we know exactly which one we are scrapping or selling and we can adjust our asset register accordingly.”

DerekBredensteiner was unconvinced: “Ugly QR codes are a bad image. And… where do you link it to that’s not useless?”

The QR code debate will no doubt continue for some time, but it is encouraging to see so many accountants taking an interest in the subject and considering how the technology might apply to their circumstances. Feel free to add your QR code examples and thoughts on the wider debate by commenting below.

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bike
By FirstTab
01st Dec 2011 08:52

QR code - Car wrap

Thanks Natalie, I found the article helpful.

It would be good to read experiences UK accountants using QR codes. 

I am thinking about having QR codes as part of my car wrap. Though I will try and make it an interesting design. The code will direct people to the contact page. Is this too boring?

Does any one have QR codes on their business card? The one I saw looked really ugly. One option could be a QR code on the back of the card. .

 

 

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Replying to chatman:
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By ACDWebb
01st Dec 2011 11:13

@FirstTab

FirstTab wrote:

Thanks Natalie, I found the article helpful.

It would be good to read experiences UK accountants using QR codes. 

I am thinking about having QR codes as part of my car wrap. Though I will try and make it an interesting design. The code will direct people to the contact page. Is this too boring?

Does any one have QR codes on their business card? The one I saw looked really ugly. One option could be a QR code on the back of the card.

Initially thought from your post heading that you didn't think they were of much use ;) ....then I read the content and you might like them

 

 

 

 

Sorry, I'll get my coat

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By taxhelpukcom
01st Dec 2011 11:19

Good points

Thanks for sharing these, I think the linking to a mobile specific site is a key one.

 

We have just included a QR code on a flyer going out this week to 10,000 people in the local area - I'll be able to report back on the success of the QR code as our website tracks how people are accessing the site and what equipment/browser they use.

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bike
By FirstTab
01st Dec 2011 11:37

ACDWebb

A person can change his mind? I did.

I hope your coat keeps you warm.

taxhelpukcom - It woud be great to hear your experience.

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By sayedhasan
01st Dec 2011 12:18

Great Info

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By jtomlin2
01st Dec 2011 12:37

Not the only use for QR codes

Whilst most will agree from a marketing perspective QR codes are useful as ways to encode url's in a machine (re phone) friendly way.  QR codes can be used to encode any kind of numeric, alpha-numeric and even kanji based strings.  In addition there are ways to encode Vcards for import into contacts etc - this can make sense for general marketing and when placing on the back of business cards etc.

When linking to a url think about what makes sense for your business - one approach is to use a generic landing page link which you can then summarise your current promotions or news on - that way the link never gets stale or old and you can either automatically redirect to other topical pages or summarise and headline the other pages and keep the one page current to the new topics.

I am sure I could have explained the above better ;).

Regards,

Jamie 

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
01st Dec 2011 12:54

Interesting idea - how do you do it?

Thanks Jamie - The article includes a bit of an assumption that the QR code will contain a URL that will direct you to a specific site. I'm very interested in your idea of including one on a business card that contains your Vcard, so you could immediately capture the holder's details into your contact book.

Is it just a question of including a Vcard tag and all the data it contains into a string you convert to the code? What steps do you have to go through to get from the contact to the QR code?

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Replying to johngroganjga:
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By jtomlin2
01st Dec 2011 13:16

I googled "QR codes embed

I googled "QR codes embed vcard" and there was a couple of sites that will generate free qr codes with embedded vcards in.  I went to http://www.qrstuff.com/ and they would do it (there are free and pay for options) - not sure if you are ok linking to 3rd party sites?  One interesting thought with using QR codes for vcards was that they can sometimes produce qr codes too dense for phones to pick up.  One suggestion which I think is quite a good idea is to save the vcard somewhere on the web and embed the link in the qr code - this solves the density issue and also means that you can update the vcf file and not worry about business cards or issued qr codes being obsolete.  The website I linked to above offers to host and enable editing of the vcf card and they also list plenty of other options / uses for qr codes.

HTH,

Jamie

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By MartinLevin
01st Dec 2011 13:03

The GoodEnglish Professor comments

I had to scan to find what the initial letters in the headline stood for.  Ugh, initial letters do not save time, regrettably, they extend the time taken in interpreting them.

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By jackflynn
10th Jul 2017 09:57

The QR Code apps Kaywa and iCandy can be installed for free on your smartphone via Tutuapp mobile app store for iPhone, iPad.

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By iosman
18th Aug 2017 22:18

tweakbox app

download app from official site.

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By iosman
18th Sep 2017 13:30

tweakbox android download from official site. love your blog man.

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