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Mastering QR Codes

Understanding "Barcodes on Steroids"

These magnificent little Quick Response Codes have been popping up in advertising & publication materials all over the world in the past few years. Originally invented for identifying vehicle parts in Japan, QR Codes have shifted into mainstream with the emergence of smartphone applications that are capable of reading them.

QR Codes are big business, having already attracted many of the world’s biggest (and smallest) brands such as Coca Cola, Amazon, Calvin Klein, and AT&T. The narrow window when a consumer makes a purchase decision doesn’t often allow time to go type in a website address, cut out coupons, or copy down contact information. These 2-dimensional barcodes streamline this - and more, coming to life with a quick scan from a smartphone camera.

Let's review different types of the most popular QR Codes:


Redirecting users to a web page is by far the most common use of QR Codes. Any phone with internet access can be directed anywhere by a URL-QR, so where are the most useful places to guide them?

  • Your Mobile-optimized Website
  • A Landing Page specifically designed to complement a campaign
  • A Sign-Up Page for users to subscribe to a e-mail or text message list
  • Social Media pages such as Facebook or Twitter
  • Post a tweet citing specific users (@MyCompany) or hashtags (#cooltopic)
  • Exact location of a business on Google Maps
  • A specific video on YouTube>
  • and much more…


Funnelling new subscribers into your SMS Campaigns can be streamlined even further.

An SMS-QR "slingshots" users directly to their smartphone's text-messaging application, automatically filling out the short code and mobile keyword for the campaign.

By just clicking send, they have subscribed to your mobile marketing campaign with only a scan and pushing a single button.

QR > E-mail

Similarly, the Email-QR can send users to compose an e-mail message.

This e-mail can be customized to auto-fill the recipient, subject, and even the message.

Once again, the user only has to press send and the deed is done!

QR > Add-Contact

Contact-QR Codes are a particularly interesting and useful type of QR Code.

Your full contact information can be transferred to someone’s cellphone instantly, no internet or Bluetooth connection required!

These Contact-QR Codes are typically denser than the others (holding more information), but still fit nicely on the back of any standard-sized business card.

Effective Implementation

Adoption rates of QR Code scanning are still in their infancy, and so are the different scanning applications across different smartphone platforms. Many new models are beginning to come with QR Code scanners built in, but awareness and understanding of these checkerboard-codes still sits below 10%.

Complementing QR Codes with an explanation of what it is, what it does, and how to scan it is becoming common practice for businesses. Educating the general public will certainly show returns when (if) QR Codes go completely mainstream.

Combining with SMS Marketing

A more promising strategy is to combine QR Codes with an SMS Campaign, giving the user the option to scan or text to access the information. A QR Code may have 1 single function, but an SMS Campaign can perform a large variety through just a single text message (no internet required).

It is highly recommended to combine both a QR Code and Mobile Keyword on promotional materials. Whether the viewer's familiar QR Code scanning or has only basic texting abilities, the campaign can still be viewed via mobile.


A very common problem with QR Codes is the way they are incorrectly positioned on print materials & surfaces.

  • Size: Ensure that the QR Code is large enough to be easily scanned from the appropriate distance. Tiny QR Codes can be very troublesome for scanning applications and older smartphone cameras.
  • Position: Place the QR Code in a position that makes scanning effortless. Forcing viewers to bend over creates discomfort and a serious drop in scanning rates.
  • Geography: URL-QR codes will not work where wireless data access is not available, such as subways, deep basements, and other fortified areas.
  • Shape: QR Codes are very flexible on their scanning capabilities, but limits do exist.

An interesting feature of the QR Code is that they are read by smartphone applications in a circular manner, starting from the outside. This means that covering certain areas with images is fair-game! The remaining black blocks can be customized in different colours and styles, yet still remain readable should there be enough contrast with the background.

Tip: Setting a higher "error-correction" for your QR Code enables you to cover up even more of the coding with branding images.

Testing 1,2,3!

Test. Test. Test Again. Troubleshooting your QR Code designs with as many applications and smartphones available ensures that your customized QR Codes can still deliver the goods… and test once more!


The key is to utilize QR Codes in creative yet effective ways to "slingshot" consumers from the physical world into your campaign, and provide meaningful incentive(s) for scanning! It's time to get excited, and start taking advantage of this wonderful new technology today.

Master QR Codes

Graphic Design Services by Master Mobile Media specializes in the generation & customization of QR Codes, guaranteeing the best possible outcome every time. Take advantage of our advanced design and implementation strategies. Get started today!