QR (“Quick Response”) Codes are a relatively new technology in the UK. Essentially a new generation of barcode (or rather a matrix barcode), they are described by many in the industry as the bridge between a human and a hyperlink.

Looking like a chess board, QR codes began life as a method of identifying car components within the Toyota Group during vehicle construction. The benefit of allowing up to 4200 alphanumeric characters per QR, the kinds of data that can be encoded are varied.

Tom Hindley's WordPress Blog

This blog, with the full URL encoded

Tom Hindley's WordPress Blog

This blog, with a shortened QR code

Consumers with iPhones or Android smartphone simply download an app (most of which are free), and use the camera on their phone to scan the QR code. These codes can contain information such as the following:

  • A URL, directing a user to a company website, microsite or social network profile.
  • A page where software, such as a vCard or app can be downloaded.
  • A link to a tweet, perhaps even including the “retweet” command.
  • An instruction to “like” a Facebook page or status update.
  • The opportunity to check in to a venue through Foursquare.
  • An e-mail, with or without body text.
  • A pre-defined text message sent to a number which is also encoded.
  • A location on Google Maps, Google Earth or Bing Maps.
  • A PayPal or Google Checkout “buy now” link.

Tracking QR codes

Under normal circumstances, success of a QR code cannot always be tracked. A QR leading to a company website is less easy to check their success. Here are some tips on how to track success:

  • If you include a QR on a leaflet, create a QR code which directs users to a page on your site which then redirects to the correct page. Google Analytics will record how many times this page is loaded.
  • If you run, for example, a chain of shops, place a slightly different QR in each shop window, directing users to URLs such as http://www.yourdomain.com/shop1.html and http://www.yourdomain.com/shop2.html.
  • Use a URL shortening service that offers analytics reports.
  • Some tracking services allow you to see the general geographic location where the code is scanned, courtesy of GPS-enabled smartphones. Bear in mind that this is less relevant for a single fixed code somewhere like a shop window, as consumers will be within yards of the code. However, if a QR code is located in multiple locations or in a magazine, location reporting is potentially useful…