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QR Codes and Microsoft Tags

If you haven't heard of QR codes or Microsoft Tags yet, then here is an introduction that will be of interest.

QR codes look like this one:

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or...like this one...a Microsoft Tag

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QR codes got started in Japan where they are very common. They will soon be very common in the rest of the world, as well. QR is an abbreviation for "Quick Response" (the codes can be read very quickly and easily by a smart phone). The codes are used to take information from static sources like business cards, magazine ads, or images on a computer screen and put it into your cell phone where you can use it more easily.

Microsoft has recently started competing with QR codes with its Microsoft Tags product (see the link below). You'll soon see QR Codes and/or Microsoft Tags in magazine advertisements, on billboards, web pages or even people's t-shirts. How about a QR code or tag as a tattoo? Now there is a thought!

Once the code or tag (I'll just call them codes from here on out) is in your smart phone, it provides you with details like business name, address, phone, website URL, text messages or video. It allows users to easily search for nearby locations or other details described in the code. It can even show you a URL which can allow you to see a movie trailer, or it might give you a coupon to use for a particular discount or other offer.

Codes are more useful than traditional barcodes because they can store and digitally present much more data, including URL links, geo coordinates, and text. Another important feature of QR Codes is that they can easily be scanned by anyone with a smart phone that has the scanning softward downloaded. This software is easy to get and quick to download and it operates automatically. Point the phone at the code and presto...the translated information pops up.

The Wikipedia description of QR codes is here.

How does the cell phone read the code?

As mentioned earlier, your smart phone and a code reader application, like this one from Kaywa or this one from Microsoft are all that is required to enter the code world. It takes only a minute for someone with an iPhone or Android phone to find and install the reader of your choice. After you have installed the reader application, you open the reader, point the phone at the code and bang...it does the rest!

How do you generate a code?

You'll need to generate the code with a QR code or tag generator. There are many free code generators available to you on the web. Again, Kaywa.com has a good generator but there are others that generate different kinds of codes.  

How can you use codes to benefit search marketing?

We are only just scratching the surface of how they will be used. Since QR codes are for smart phones, it is more important than ever to have a mobile website. Here are a few examples of how others are using them.

Here is a business card company demoing how they are using them for business:

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This is a demo of a QR code used in print...linking the user straight to a website:

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Even though the text on this video is in German, you'll see some interesting QR code merchandising examples:

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Here is an interesting interview on BBC.

Will your customers really use these codes?

For now, they are very new and few people are really using them. But that gives you an edge if you start employing them today. And your customers who are technically savvy will appreciate your knowledge and the convenience your are providing to them.

Can Small Businesses use QR codes or MS Tags?

Any business, no matter how small or large, can use QR codes in lots of ways. You can put one next to every product on your website that contains ALL the product details, the number to call and the URL link to the correct page on your website. This way it is easy to show the product to friends or associates on your cell phone. You can add a code to your business card that contains all your contact details so it's easy for someone to add you to their contact list on their cell phone.

You can add them to any print advertising, flyers, posters, invitations, and TV ads. Use your imagination. They can contain:

  • Product details
  • Contact details
  • Special offers
  • Event details
  • Competition details
  • Coupons
  • Twitter, Facebook, MySpace IDs
  • Links to your YouTube videos

Want to learn more about QR codes and Microsoft Tags? Check out these articles:

 

 

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