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How to Make a QR Code
The QR code creation process is pretty straightforward. Here's how to get started.
Step 1: Select a QR code generator.
There are tons of QR code generators out there, but a few of the post popular include
Kaywa, GOQR.me, Visualead, and QR Stuff. Some things to look for when choosing a QR
code generator are whether you can track and analyze performance, if it allows you
to design a code that's unique to your brand, and if it is compatible with common QR
Step 2: Design and link it up.
The fun part of creating QR codes is customizing the design of the codes to your brand.
Want your code to look like your logo? Go for it. Want it to reflect your website's
design scheme? Should be no problem.
To demonstrate how easy it is, let's select one of the QR code generators above and do
a walkthrough together. I'll select GOQR.me.
1. Select what type of content you want your QR code to send the consumer to -- we'll
choose a URL for this example.
2. Insert the content (in this case, a URL).
3. Check out the preview, customize as desired, then download and/or embed where needed.
Quite simple, right? Of course, you can customize your QR code further -- adjusting the
colors, adding a logo, creating social options, and more.
Step 3: Test the QR code.
In all the excitement of creating your first QR code, don't forget to check to see if
the QR code “reads” correctly, and be sure to try more than just one reader. A good place
to start is the free tool Google Goggles, which takes a picture and then tells you what
link or item it “reads to.” Another great free tool is QR Code Reader, which automatically
takes you to whatever it “reads.” Apple's Passbook also offers a built-in QR code reader
on iOS 7, so you should test to make sure your code is readable there, as well.
Step 4: Track and analyze performance.
Just like any marketing campaign, you should follow up on any collateral or campaigns using
QR codes to see whether they're actually working. How much traffic comes from each specific
code? Are people scanning your code but not redeeming their offer once they get to the
landing page? Or are they not even compelled enough to scan your QR code? Knowing this will
help you troubleshoot and adjust your poorly performing QR codes to more closely mirror those
that work well. I recommend you include a UTM tracking code on your URL so you can better
measure performance -- this is particularly important if you use closed-loop marketing
analytics, and are used to more in-depth reporting on your campaigns.
QR Code Best Practices: Some Important Do's and Don'ts
Now that you see how simple the QR code creation process can be, let's talk about some best
practices that'll help increase the likelihood your QR code actually gets used.
QR Code Do's
1) Do put QR codes in places where scanning is easy, and there's enough time for the consumer
to actually scan the code. While you may often see QR codes on billboards and TV commercials,
they're not exactly the most user-friendly locations. Think of places and mediums where
consumers have the time to scan the code, and, ideally, a Wi-Fi connection as well.
2) Do mobile-optimize the page to which you're sending people. Consumers will be on their
phone when scanning the QR code, so they should be brought to a page with a positive mobile
3) Do offer a call-to-action (CTA) with the code -- that is to say, tell people what they're
supposed to do when they see the code, and what they'll receive if they do it. Not everyone
knows exactly what a QR code is, and those that do won't be motivated to scan it unless
they're sure there's something worthwhile on the other side.
QR Code Don'ts
1) Don't require a special QR code scanner. Your QR code should be app-agnostic so anyone
can scan your code with any reader. A lower barrier to entry makes success more likely for
you and the user.
2) Don't use a QR code just for the sake of using one. For instance, it's common for
marketers to think, "How can I bridge the offline experience with the online experience?
Uhhh ... QR code!" That's not wrong ... but it's not always right, either. If you have
content that makes sense to deliver to a mobile user, and you have an appropriate vehicle
to do it (see #1 in the "Do" section above) it's more likely your QR code will drive results.
For example, in South Korea, grocery store chain Tesco drove tremendous national business
growth by using QR codes in subway stations (I guess they have mobile service in their
subway stations) to let riders order their groceries while they wait. It's a great example
of using QR codes for the right end-goal, at the right place and time. This article from
Search Engine Journal has some more examples of good times to use QR codes, as well.
If after reading this you’re not convinced QR codes are the right move -- or you just
want some additional ways you can connect the offline world to the online world -- consider
also adding a short, memorable URL people can type in easily on their mobile phones in your
The future of QR codes could also mean an evolution -- augmented reality apps certainly
stem from the same concept, after all. Consider the AR News App, which lets readers augment
a newspaper story into a child-friendly article by downloading an app and hovering over
stories with a special marker (sounds pretty close to a QR scanner, doesn't it?). It may
be that QR codes aren't quite dead, but just the first step in a long evolution.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in December 2011 and has been updated
for accuracy and comprehensiveness
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