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QR codes: Print marketing


Online printing companies, retailers, and service providers alike have all heard of the QR Code by now, which enables a customer to scan a promotional code with their smartphone and instantly see the message your company is trying to display.

According to comScore, more than 55% of Americans now use smartphones.  In 2011, one in five American smartphone users utilized the QR codes present in retail stores, and about 57% of the QR code users scanned a code from inside their home. And as we enter 2013, the use of QR codes is skyrocketing.

As an online printing company, we’ve watched the rise in demand for QR codes on all mediums, from business cards to billboards. And as QR codes become an increasingly popular trend, it is important for marketers to fully grasp their potential. The more information you include in the code, the more complex the image. This means the pixels must be printed smaller in an effort to embody all the information the producer intends to include. As the coded pixels decrease in size, the scanner might be unable to read the whole code, which forces the producer to increase the overall size of the image.

Here are a few important details that can help you better understand QR Codes:

1. Each code is provided a version number, which is based on the number of rows and columns depending on density. For example, for Version 1 QR Code has 21 rows and 21 columns of pixel dots and it will increase by 1 for every 4 extra rows and columns; Version 2 QR code 25 rows and columns and so on.

2. If you’re going to create a business card QR code, be aware that these generally have high data density levels due to all the information provided in a small area; typically Version 10 QR codes or higher.

3. Although smartphones continue improving their cameras, the larger the code the harder it is for the phone to focus and capture exact imaging. If the code is too large, it may impede the camera’s ability to accurate decode the information.

4. Master your size. You don’t want your image to be so small the scanner can’t decode the image (or too large for reasons outlined above). Your online printing company can help you determine which size will best serve your objectives.

5. Know you distance. If this is going to be on a banner, take into account the distance the scanner will most likely be; that also goes for codes printed in magazines or up close.

Although QR code popularity has notably increased, there are still numerous people out there without a clue of its purpose. In an effort to appeal to these potential customers/viewers be sure to include instructions near the QR code on how to use it and its purpose.

Rather than simply post a QR code in hope that someone will scan it, be sure to create some excitement around it. You want people to feel a connection or need to scan and learn more. It is imperative to describe the purpose of the code and in some cases nice to add a little mystery to it.

QR Code Best Practices
1. Be sure to follow up the QR code with a user-friendly document

2. No matter what type of service you are trying to display, make sure there are instructions.

3. If the QR code is for a coupon, be sure to explain how to redeem it

4. If it is an informational blurb about a product or service, keep it short

5. After the customer has downloaded the code and completed whatever the objective was, always have a thank you page

6. Capability to send users to a mobile optimized landing page or website with a QR code

7. Lastly, include your social media tabs enabling the user to repost this QR code

Interested in exploring our store of promotional products? Visit to get started!

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BY PRISMAMarch 1, 2013

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