The rise and evolution of cell phones have affected nearly every aspect of our day-to-day lives. We now use cell phones not only to make phone calls, but to take pictures, send quick messages to friends, access the internet, and follow the lives of our friends and even complete strangers from nearly anywhere in the world.
Cell phones are everywhere. As a business owner, your marketing strategy has to adjust to accommodate the use of phones. Let's face it...if someone is seeing your content online, it's probably on their cell phone. Because cell phones are such a common and critical part of our lives, sometimes the world has to change to make cell phone usage easier. The QR code is a perfect example.
Even if you’ve never used a QR code, you’ve probably seen one. They’re small squares with a pattern of blocks and lines. You hold your phone’s camera up to the square and you’re led to a specific page on the internet. They're commonly used on flyers, signs, brochures, coupons, social posts, emails, and more. Simply put, QR codes are everywhere these days. The QR code has become widely used over the past few years, especially through the COVID pandemic when people actively avoided physical contact with printed materials like menus.
QR codes aren’t just convenient. They’re also incredibly powerful marketing tools that can be used in flyers, emails, social posts, and much more to generate traffic and convert visitors into buyers. Below is a comprehensive guide to QR codes where we explain how you can make them part of your marketing strategy.
What is a QR code?
A QR code is an array of black and white boxes and squares that contain codes of data. The QR stands for “quick read.”
While QR codes have become common over the past several years, they were actually invented all the way back in 1994 by a subsidiary of Toyota called Denso Wave. Denso Wave needed an efficient way to track car parts, so they invented the QR code along with scanners designed to read the codes. They placed stickers with codes on each part. With a quick scan, they were able to check a part into inventory and track it through the supply chain.
After Denso's creation of QR codes, they became commonly-used in the manufacturing and supply chain industries. However, it would take some time before they were adapted by the general public.
In the early 2000s, Denso made QR code technology publicly available for anyone to use without any infringement on their patent. Around that time, QR scan technology became available on some cell phones in Japan. However, it would be nearly 20 years before the technology became widespread.
The real estate industry was an early adopter of QR codes. Agents would put QR codes on "For Sale" signs and flyers. Potential buyers could scan QR code and could see the specs, images, and floorplans of a property.
It would take a worldwide event to make the codes more valuable and useful than ever. The COVID pandemic limited the effectiveness and safety of physical materials. Businesses like restaurants, hotels, and more needed a way to communicate information without providing printed materials. QR codes were the solution.
In just a few short years, QR codes have become a common part of daily life. In fact, in 2021 alone, 76 million Americans used their phone to scan a QR code at some point.