QR Codes: Is it time?

qrcodeThis week, Educause released a PDF article about QR Codes. What are these codes? Here’s a snip from the article:

QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can contain any alphanumeric text and that often feature URLs that direct users to sites where they can learn about an object or place (a practice known as “mobile tagging”). Decoding software on tools such as camera phones interprets the codes, which are increasingly found in places such as product labels, billboards, and buildings, inviting passers-by to pull out their mobile phones and uncover the encoded information.

These codes, popular in Japan, allow users to use a device, most often their cell phone camera, at a QR Code and be given information, such as a URL to visit or some other information.

While the article deals with the pedagogical uses or these codes, I think there are many possible uses on the marketing side as well.

I think it will eventually be a great resource for prospective students. For example, lets say that tomorrow we send them a postcard telling them the due date for applications is coming up. On that postcard, you include text and a URL for your online application urging them to apply. It requires the user to enter in the address manually.

In the future, perhaps we will send students a postcard urging them to apply with a QR or other 2d barcode image on it. They point their phone or mobile device at it (or hold it up to the camera in their netbook) and they are instantly taken to your application. In fact, I’ve mocked up a sample to show you what that could look like. 2 caveats: I’m not a graphic designer in any sense and the picture is from Selwyn College in Cambridge.

QR Code Example

Click for a larger version.

If you’re tracking your conversions closely, you should know these URLs can contain all sorts of analytics data, so you would be able to get very reliable information about response rates, perhaps better then using other redirect techniques.

While the technology is ready for use today, you may not be at a point where it would make sense to introduce these types of codes. When I think about where mobile technology will be in two years, I think there will be demand for it. Today’s 14-year-olds will be starting their college searches before you know it.

Online, free QR Code Generator
2D Sense, iPhone app that will read QR Codes