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What is a QR Code and How Does It Work?
March 3, 2023

QR codes are everywhere. You’ve probably scanned one to open an online menu at a restaurant, get a discount at a store, or learn more about a company’s product or services. But how do QR codes really work – and how can you best incorporate them into your company’s marketing strategy?

What is a QR Code?

A QR code is a type of barcode composed of pixels in a square-shaped grid that can be read by a mobile device and redirects users to online information such as a website, landing page, social media profile, or even a PDF. QR stands for “quick response” and refers to the codes’ ability to quickly retrieve digital data.

Apart from their widespread use in marketing, QR codes are also used in supply chains to track product information. They are an upgrade over the traditional line barcode, as they can store greater quantities of data.

How Does a QR Code Work?

In much the same way that a product barcode is a series of black and white lines in a unique pattern that can be read and interpreted by a scanner, a QR code is a collection of pixels in a unique pattern that refers to a specific piece of information when scanned. Whereas traditional barcodes must be read by a scanner with reflected light from an illumination system (that’s the red light you see at supermarket checkout stations), QR codes can be “scanned” with a mobile device via your phone’s camera app thanks to built-in QR reading technology that most phones are now equipped with. 

While QR codes were first introduced in 1994, they didn’t take off until 2020 when the need for touchless information sharing became necessary in a post-pandemic world.

Different Types of QR Codes

QR codes can either be static or dynamic. As their name implies, static or fixed QR codes are unchanging and cannot be edited once live. With static QR codes, one specific set of data or information is ingrained into the code. 

Dynamic QR codes on the other hand redirect users to a specific URL, which can be changed at any time. One of the many benefits of dynamic QR codes is their ability to gather scanning metrics, such as the time, location, and device used to scan the code.

Different Uses for QR Codes in Marketing

QR codes are used extensively in marketing today. Not sure how to join in the revolution? Here are a few uses for QR codes in marketing.

Link to Additional Content:

This is one of the most common marketing uses for QR codes. This can be used anytime a customer might encounter a situation where they want to learn more. Shopping in-store and want to see if there are more options available online? Can’t fit all your service information cleanly onto a sign or brochure? Want to send users to an educational video explaining how to set up or use their new product? 

These are all great examples of a time when you want to direct users online for more information – but don’t want them to get bogged down in the act of finding that information on their own. With a QR code, there is no need to open a browser or app and start the onerous task of searching for information or typing in a URL. Customers can tap the link that pops up when they scan the code and be immediately taken to the information they need.

Increase App Downloads:

Apps offer customers a better user experience with your brand – but most customers aren’t going to go to the app store, search for your brand name, then download and install the app unless they’re already major brand advocates. Take the hassle out of the process for them by generating a QR code that takes them right to your page on the app store. When you create QR codes with AppURL, our technology will automatically identify a user’s device, taking them right to the appropriate app store for an even smoother process.

Increase Engagement on Social Media:

Make it easier for customers to find and connect with you on social by generating QR codes that take them to your social profiles – no need for them to remember your specific handle or search for your brand name and filter through the options. Have (Ever gone to search for something on Instagram only to get distracted by the related videos…and completely forget what you were there for in the first place? Bypassing the search function can be more valuable than you think!)

You can either create a direct link to your profiles on individual networks for which you want to increase engagement or better promote, or you can create a collection page that links out to all your social media profiles.

Generate More Leads:

It’s the end game of all marketing – increase lead generation and ultimately gain more customers. No matter what your strategy is, QR codes can help. Send people directly to a newsletter signup or contact form, making it easier to gather their contact information. Create promotions, discounts or coupon codes – all instantly accessible by scanning a QR code. You can even put a QR code on the back of your business card that adds your information directly to a user’s contact list. Whatever you want to do, QR codes can help.

AppURL Can Help You With Your QR Code Strategy

Marketing moves pretty fast. Utilizing smart link technology can help you keep pace. At AppURL, our URL generator creates a QR code anytime you create a smart link, making it easy to incorporate QR codes into your current marketing strategy. This also means your QR codes will have all the benefits of an AppURL smart link, from custom previews and real-time analytics to in-app deeplinking – making it easier than ever to send users where you want them to go and ultimately convert them.