31 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes

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By now, most people are at least familiar with QR codes – those goofy looking black and white graphical barcode displays that allow marketers to pass on additional information (including text, images, HTML pages and more) to anyone with a QR code reader.

But as their adoption in the US has only recently begun to grow, there are plenty of marketers out there who still aren’t sure how to use QR codes effectively.

The following are a few fun ideas for distributing your QR codes in order to get your creative juices flowing:

1. As your Twitter profile picture

Using your QR code as your Twitter profile picture is a great way to build exposure for your code quickly.  For best results, pair this action with a concerted Twitter marketing plan to increase the number of times your code is seen.

2. On your Facebook Timeline cover photo

The recent launch of Facebook Timeline gives you a bunch of open space to play with, making this a great time to try integrating a QR code into your cover photo.  Be sure to include details on what visitors will receive by scanning your code on your image as well to increase engagement rates.

3. In your Flickr photo albums

Flickr is an extremely active, growing site, so sharing your campaign-specific QR codes here can help you to pick up a few extra views.

4. On the background of your Youtube channel

Another great place to deploy your QR codes is on the background of your Youtube channel.  As you can often pick up traffic on this site by having your video listed as a “Related Video” while others are playing, you can increase your code exposure relatively quickly here.

5. On your printed business cards

Including your QR code on your printed business cards is a pretty standard integration, but you’ll want to put some thought into what specific information you send to people who scan your code from this location.  Your business card QR code can be a great way to include links to all the various social networks you’re active with, but can’t fit on a single, tiny business card.

6. On your company’s printed marketing materials

If your company prints any type of marketing materials (including flyers, catalogs, banners and more), consider adding a QR code linked to your specific promotions.  Be careful, though.  While adoption of QR codes is still in its infancy, you’ll need to add descriptive text that tells readers how to scan the codes and what they’ll gain by doing so.

7. Printed on your product labels

If you print labels for physical products, adding a QR code can be a great way to convey more information than you’re able to do within the space of your label.  For example, if you sell artisan cheeses, consider including a link to a product-specific recipe page within your code.

8. Integrated into your trade show displays

Adding QR codes to your trade show displays can be a great way to give people important information about your company, without making them feel as if they need to engage your booth representatives personally.

9. In your retail storefront

Having a sign with a QR code at the entrance to your retail store gives the impression that your business is tech-savvy and current.  Plus, it’s a great way to offer special discount codes that only a part of your clientele will act on.

10. As part of a business-oriented scavenger hunt

Want to get customers truly engaged in your brand?  Consider organizing a business-oriented scavenger hunt that uses QR codes to give users the clues to each next step.

11. As a coupon delivery vehicle

One of the best reasons to use QR codes to share coupon codes is that you can easily track which specific promotions result in the most sales.  Use this data to determine how to best allocate your advertising funds and efforts.

12. On your shirt (or jacket, or pants or other item of clothing)

If you really want to generate interest in your QR code, plaster it on your clothing and walk around town.  The people around you will notice and ask you what it’s all about!

13. On a sticker on your laptop

Printing a copy of your QR code and affixing it to the cover of your laptop is a great way to get views when you’re working around town or while attending conferences like SXSW.

14. Printed on a counter display sign in your retail business

Share detailed information about daily specials or coupon deals with a QR code sign located on the counter of your retail business.  This can also be a great way to upsell existing visitors on additional products.

15. To build your email newsletter list

If you run an email newsletter, consider using QR codes to direct people to your opt-in page.  Just be sure that the page makes the benefits of enrolling immediately obvious, otherwise you’ll simply be wasting peoples’ time.

16. To pre-fill e-commerce shopping carts

Depending on your specific e-commerce platform, you may be able to create QR codes that pre-fill your visitors’ shopping carts with particular items.  This can be incredibly useful for encouraging buyers to re-order automatically.

17. To encourage Facebook “likes” and Twitter “follows”

Since social signals are playing a larger role in SEO than ever, using QR codes that redirect visitors to your Facebook fan page or Twitter profile can be a great way to build your following on these popular social networking sites.  Be sure to offer an incentive for liking or following your profile to make this technique as effective as possible.

18. To promote viral content

If you’ve built linkbait style with the intention of encouraging a viral campaign, using a QR code to encourage readers to share your materials can be a great way to spread the reach of your content.

19. On your LinkedIn profile

Where applicable, use QR codes on your LinkedIn profile to give viewers access to a more detailed resume or portfolio of your work.

20. Embedded in your vCard

Similarly, embedding a QR code in your vCard can help you to quickly and easily share additional information about you and your business with the contacts you meet.

21. As a temporary tattoo

Want to really generate interest in your QR code?  Have it printed out as a temporary tattoo and wear it out on nice days.  Or, take this method a little further and offer your customers an incentive for wearing the tattoos themselves!

22. To enhance print advertisements

Creating visually appealing, easily understood print advertisements generally means limiting text.  So if you have other information you’d like to share that won’t fit in your printed materials, use a QR code to share the other information your customers need.

23. To eliminate updating costs for real-time information

If your business advertises real-time information (for example, daily specials within the restaurant industry), distributing this information via QR code can reduce the need for extra posters or signage to say the same thing.

24. To share 21st century “mixtapes”

Want to give your customers a feel for your personality?  Use Spotify to create a custom playlist that can be shared via QR code.

25. As a payment streamlining system

Companies like Starbucks are beginning to use QR codes that integrate a customer’s preferred order and payment system to make the checkout process as fast as possible.  Depending on how tech-savvy your customers are, setting up a system like this can dramatically increase overall satisfaction.

26. To share edgy or risqué content

If you find yourself in the position of needing to share content that’s better suited to the 18+ crowd, QR codes can be a way to control how that information is presented.

27. In your print advertising campaigns

Integrating QR codes into your advertising campaigns can make them more unique and eye catching, resulting in more attention and more overall conversions.

28. On a billboard

Want to really make a splash with your QR code advertising?  In this down economy, billboard rental rates are lower than ever, making it potentially cost effective to rent an entire billboard to display your code.

29. To build your mobile marketing SMS lists

QR codes can be generated that will automatically send an SMS message to users phones, allowing them to opt-in to your mobile marketing list quickly and easily.  As long as you make the benefits of subscribing obvious, encouraging users to opt-in via QR code can reduce mental barriers that prevent people from sharing their phone numbers.

30. To connect users directly to salespeople

On a related note, QR codes can be used that will instantly initiate a phone call from the user’s device.  This application can be used to connect readers directly with telephone salespeople, eliminating the barrier of requesting readers to take this action on their own.

31. On your physical mailing packaging

Whenever you send out physical products by mail, you’ve got a golden opportunity to share a QR code that keeps customers engaged with your brand.  To cut costs, try having stickers printed with your code that can be affixed to your packaging so that the specific codes you use can be changed out easily.

Are you using any of these techniques to distribute QR codes for your company?  Or, are there other techniques you’ve found to be successful?  If so, share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: haroc

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