QR Codes Are Cool Again!

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Although QR codes have been around for a quarter of a century, it seems that most people in the USA still don’t know what they are and what they can do. To the naked eye they look like gibberish. But these machine-readable barcodes pack quite a punch: in a very small space, they can provide a wealth of information.

Back in the 2000s, QR codes were touted as “the next best thing!” for the marketing industry. But in the USA they’ve remained largely on the periphery of most mainstream marketing efforts for two main reasons. One, because they aren’t readily identifiable texts or pictures, people don’t quite know what to make of them. And two, the ability to decode QR codes has largely been locked up in dedicated applications that people often don’t already have on their devices when they encounter the codes.

With the 2017 release of iOS 11, however, the QR code landscape dramatically changed when the Camera app started to include a built-in QR code scanner. In other words, iOS users no longer need to download special apps in order to read QR codes. This major development basically eliminates the “I don’t already have an app for this and I don’t want to spend time downloading it now” factor that makes people reluctant to engage with QR codes.

Apple didn’t shine a bright spotlight on this feature in its iOS 11 announcement, and tech experts who wrote about it often described it as “hidden” and “underhyped.” Two years later, many iOS users still don’t know that their iPhones and iPads contain native QR scanners. I just recently stumbled across this feature myself accidentally: as I opened my camera to snap a picture of a QR code, I was surprised to see my phone automatically recognize and process the code (and then prompt me to open the web page to which it pointed).

Native mobile integration is a game changer! (And it’s not limited to iOS devices: Android users can join in the fun, too, by adjusting the settings for “Google Lens Suggestions” to tell their cameras to recognize QR codes.) This somewhat new development opens up many marketing and outreach strategies.

At Mamu Media, we are especially excited to help our clients use QR codes to connect their print marketing efforts and their digital campaigns. At the end of an article in a custom magazine, for example, a QR code could serve as a link to relevant online video content, to downloadable assets in support of the article, or to a PDF version of that article. Readers who want more information on a specific topic could follow a QR code to an online contact form. Organizations can use QR codes as registration links for webinars they offer, or use them as download links for the company’s apps. The possibilities are limited only by one’s imagination!

QR codes are finally getting their turn in the spotlight. They are unparalleled in their versatility, and thanks to recent developments in mobile device operating systems, are now more accessible than ever. Don’t miss this opportunity to leverage QR codes to connect with clients, candidates, and customers and increase your value-added proposition. Contact us today to find out how we can make QR codes work for you!