What Is a QR Code?

What Is a QR Code?
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What is a QR code? A Quick Response (QR) code is a square-shaped barcode that can be scanned by a smartphone to quickly take the user to a specific URL, whether that’s a blog, newsletter sign-up form or app download.

QR codes aren’t a modern creation. Far from it, in fact. They were invented in 1994 by a Japanese company called Denso Wave after it needed a more efficient way to track product manufacturing. But these scannable barcodes became much more than just a tracker. By the 2010s, department stores were using them to direct people to mobile sites and more. But there were a few issues. One: you needed a smartphone to scan a QR code. Two: smartphones required you to download a third-party app to scan. And three: physical spaces and websites often weren’t optimized for mobile users.

Nowadays, QR codes are much easier to use. In 2021, 3.8 billion people have a smartphone with the majority of phones being able to scan QR codes using the in-built camera. It’s no wonder that the codes are growing in popularity. According to digital experience company Blue Bite, the reach of QR codes grew by 28% from 2018 to 2019 with the number of interactions also increasing by 26%.

So what’s the link to content marketing?

Well, QR codes are an easy, cost-effective way to boost engagement via print marketing methods. They’ve been used everywhere from museums that want to breathe life into still artworks and restaurants looking to provide contactless solutions for customers. The key thing to remember is that they need a clear call to action. If a user knows what they’re going to get when they scan, they’re much more likely to bring out their phone. Plus, they won’t have to type in a lengthy URL to read your content or sign up for your webinar.

As well as being quick and accessible, QR codes are also simple to track. Whether you place yours in a magazine or on a window, you’ll be able to analyze scanning frequency, time and location to see just how well they manage to connect with your target audience.

Why use a QR code?

    • To engage target audiences in any location
    • To give users a quick and easy way to access a specific piece of content
    • To provide an exclusive discount
    • As a mobile ticketing solution for both in-person and virtual events
    • To add further value to products and packaging
    • To ask customers to leave a review
    • To generate leads by asking users to give their contact details in exchange for free content or trials
QR codes are rising once again. Find out how to use this simple black and white square to your brand's advantage #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

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About the author

Lauren Sharkey

Journalist, copywriter, and editor specialising in health, retail, and women’s issues. Author of Resisters: 52 Young Women Making Herstory Right Now, published in 2019 by Wren & Rook.