So you have decided to use QR Codes in your latest print media campaigns. And you now need to head on to a QR Code generator. But you’re not sure which one is the right for your use case?
A quick Google search will give you many options. How do you then choose the best QR Code generator? This guide will help you.
We have divided this guide into two sections:
- Features of a good QR Code Generator
- A detailed comparison chart of the top QR Code generators
Note that no QR Code generator is perfect in an absolute way. You need to figure out what your requirements are and which QR Code generator suits your needs.
A. Must-have features in a QR Code Generator software
A good tool is one that makes your work easy. It either saves you time or money.
It is not just about getting the job done. It’s also about how quickly you can get it done. Or how cost-effective it is. Follow this thumb rule:
Keeping this in mind, a good QR Code Generator should be able to:
1. Generate Dynamic QR Codes
Say you create a QR Code that takes the end-users to your website. And you add it to your business cards. A year later, you want it to take the end-users to your blog.
To do it, you don’t really need to create a new QR Code and reprint your business cards. How?
By making the required changes to the existing QR Code. Yes, you can edit the content encoded in a QR Code (if it is dynamic in nature). Keep reading to know what a Dynamic QR Code is. Each QR Code you create falls under one of the two categories—Static and Dynamic.
Dynamic QR Codes allow you to edit the encoded content (such as website link, text, and images) anytime you want without reprinting the QR Code.
One day you can lead your customers to your Facebook Page and the next day to a YouTube video. Yet your QR Code will remain the same.
As a serious marketer, you need this flexibility in your campaigns.
You certainly don’t want to be stuck with a QR Code that cannot be edited once created. And that leads to a page that you don’t want or that no longer exists.
Such QR Codes, which cannot be edited after being created, are called Static QR Codes.
Most free QR Code generators online allow you to create basic Static QR Codes only. These QR Codes are basic and cannot be tracked. Keep reading to know what it means.
2. Track scanning activity
If you’re a serious marketer, you know the importance of analyzing your campaigns.
It helps you understand if your campaigns are meeting expectations or if they need to be improved.
If you are not analyzing your campaigns, then you are not optimizing. And if you are not optimizing, you are losing money in lost sales opportunities.
Does your generator tell you exactly how many people scanned your QR Code? And from exactly which city, country, device, handset model, operating system, or browser did they do it?
I’ll tell you why this data is important.
Say you run a print media campaign across three cities. And you learn that the majority of users are scanning the QR Code from one of the three cities. You will then know where your target audience is.
You can then increase your marketing budget for this region to gain more conversions. Do you know how valuable this information is? A lot.
Another important analytics feature that you should check is—integrations.
If you are a marketer, you probably have other campaigns running and you collate data in an Analytics tool—say Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, etc.
The last thing you need is another analytics dashboard for QR Code campaigns. Check if your QR Code Generator allows you to integrate with other analytics platforms.
3. Track event acitivity
Most QR Code generators allow only scan tracking but that’s not enough. Getting information on what the end-users did after scanning your QR Code helps you draw valuable insights. We call it—event tracking.
It helps you understand if your end-users, upon scanning the QR Code, engaged with the encoded content. It could be a sign-up button, a registration button, etc.
By analyzing the engagement rate on actionable elements, you can optimize your future campaigns even better.
4. Capture contact information of target audience
As mentioned above, most advanced QR Code generators can track scanning activity.
But only a few can tell exactly who scanned the QR Code i.e. name, email address, and phone number of the user scanning the QR Code.
This feature is called Lead Generation. It helps you capture leads information to build a list of potential customers or target audience.
And if you are looking to capture leads information, you should check if your QR Code Generator offers this feature.
Here’s how it works—you create a leads list (having fields for details you need to capture). While creating the QR Code, you select this leads list. Next, you add this QR Code to your print media creatives with a suitable CTA.
When end-users scan the QR Code, they are taken to fill the required information in appropriate fields. When they submit it, you get this information in Leads Analytics.
Also, check if the leads information can be integrated with your CRM—say via Zapier webhooks.
5. Design QR Codes to attract more scans
Have you ever scanned the barcode on a Coke can that you just bought? No. Why would you? They simply appear to be intended for some ‘official use’.
Then why should anybody scan a plain black-and-white QR Code on your promotions?
Black-and-white QR Codes are simply plain and boring to look at.
And if you really want people to scan your QR Code, make it stand out from the crowd. It should scream to your audience that this is a point-of-engagement. How?
By making your QR Codes colorful and personalized to your brand. How?
a. By adding colors to it
A standard black-and-white QR Code often doesn’t blend well with your print media creatives. So the first thing you can do here is—change its color.
You can add your brand or company’s colors to it. Just make sure that there is enough contrast between the QR Code and the background. This ensures good scannability.
b. By adding an image as a logo
Yes, you can actually use your brand’s logo or image to the QR Code design. And there are two ways to do it:
a. Adding the image as a logo in the centre
b. Adding image as the background
c. By adding text as logo
Just like an image, you can also add custom text as logo in the centre of your QR Code. The text could be anything. For example—a CTA that tells people what to do—Scan Me.
Here’s how it will look like:
You can only do it only if your generator has advanced QR Code designing capabilities.
Also—if you’d need to regularly design QR Codes, your generator should allow you to save designs as templates.
6. Create the type of QR Code you need
There are various categories of QR Codes depending on what information you want to share. Or what action you want your target audience to take.
a. Webpage QR Code leads you to a website
b. PDF QR Code shows a PDF document
c. Google Maps QR Code redirects you to
d. App Store QR Code redirects you to the right app download page depending on the operating system of the scanning device
e. Social Media QR Code that takes end-users to a landing page with links to all your social media profiles
f. Vcard QR Code which, when scanned, prompts the end-users to add you as a contact on their phones
g. Event QR Code which redirects you to a landing page with detailed text-based as well as multimedia event information
h. Calendar QR Code that prompts the end-users to add the event to their calendar
i. Audio QR Code that redirects you to listen to an audio file
j. Product QR Code that takes your audience to see the product details
Check if the QR Code generator allows you to create the QR Code you need.
Basic apps will let you create about 5-6 basic content categories. Whereas advanced QR Code generators can help you create more than 20 QR Code categories.
In addition, if you’re sharing sensitive data (say via PDF QR Code), do you have the option to secure it? Can you password-protect your QR Code?
When users scan a password protected QR Code, they are required to enter the password to be able to access the encoded information.
Hence, password protection allows only the authorized personnel with the password to access the information.
7. Export vector formats of the QR Code image
QR Code makes the most sense when added to print media.
Raster formats such as PNG or JPG work fine if used on webpages.
But if you have to print a large image of your QR Code, say in case of banners, raster formats don’t work.
Here you’d need to print a high-resolution QR Code image. Hence, you will need the QR Code image in vector format—SVG, EPS, PS, or PDF.
These images do not pixelate no matter how much you zoom in. And that’s important for your QR Codes to remain scannable.
These are the formats your designer—working on Adobe Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, or Sketch 3—will ask for.
So make sure your generator exports vector images of QR Codes. And not only of black-and-white QR Codes but designer ones as well.
8. Add error correction to QR Codes
Error correction is useful if you are adding a logo to your QR Code. Or if it is vulnerable to wear and tear.
For example—say you’re putting QR Codes on product packagings for inventory management. Since QR Codes will be subjected to factory environment here, they’ll be susceptible to damage and dirt.
In such cases, error correction ensures that your QR Code remains scannable. No matter if it is a little damaged or dirty.
Similarly, it is error correction that makes it possible to add a logo to QR Code design.
(Tip for Scanova Users: Scanova uses complex image processing and algorithms to generate scannable QR Codes only)
9. Keep QR Codes and landing pages ad-free
Many QR Code Generators will allow you to create QR Codes for free.
But here’s the problem. They will not tell you that they will add mobile ads to your landing pages.
Since users will certainly not be pleased to see ads, it will adversely affect the user experience. And can even significantly decrease your conversion rate.
Choose a QR Code Generator that keeps landing pages completely ad-free.
Note that sometimes free QR Code readers also include advertisements. If this happens, this is out of the control of the QR Code generation tool.
10. Organize QR Codes in Campaigns
Organizing QR Codes in campaigns is useful if you run multiple campaigns and create many QR Codes. Or if you manage QR Codes for multiple campaigns. How?
You can create folders called Campaigns and add your QR Codes to appropriate folders to keep them organized.
QR Code Campaign Management allows you to do this and manage QR codes in a systematic way.
For example: You can activate or deactivate an entire campaign in one go instead of deactivating 20 QR Codes one by one.
You can also monitor analytics at campaign-level instead of QR Code-level.
11. Provide multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication is adding an extra layer of protection to your account. It provides a higher security assurance to the user than adding a password alone.
Here’s how it works—say while creating an account with your QR Code generator, you added a password for login and security purposes. But somehow your password gets stolen. It will put your account’s safety at risk. That means there can be data breaches and even unauthorized QR Code edits that can result in losses.
Multi-factor authentication ensures that no unauthorized user can access or hack your account. It does so by asking you to not only enter the password while logging-in but also additional information such as OTP and push notification.
You can log in only once you furnish both the pieces of information required.
Hence, your QR Codes, data, and the campaigns remain safe.
12. Add password-protection to QR Codes
Say you’re encoding confidential data in the QR Codes. And you want only authorized personnel to see the encoded content.
But here’s the thing—for generic QR Codes, anyone with a smartphone can scan them and access the encoded information.
But the good news is—you can password protect your QR Codes and share it with the ones you want. That means, once the end-user scans the QR Code, he will be prompted to enter the password. He will be able to access the encoded content only after he does the needful.
13. Help restore deleted QR Codes
Every once in a while, you must have thought—what if this project that I have been working on gets accidentally deleted? How will I get it back?”
Usually, there are no do-overs. So make sure your QR Code generator allows you to restore a QR Code even after you’ve accidentally deleted it.
This feature helps you relax even if you delete a QR Code by mistake. That means, neither any loss nor any anxiety.
14. Provide customer Support
Say you run into a technical issue or need help from your QR Code service provider. In such cases, your service provider must be up for the job, providing you help whenever required.
Most QR Code generators provide customer support. It could be via email, phone, or live chat. Hence, make sure you choose a service provider that helps you connect as per your desired mode of communication.
15. Add custom URL and custom domain feature
Say you’ve created a dynamic QR Code for promotional purposes. As end-users scan it, they will see a short-URL that will probably have the name of your service provider along with random alphabets and numbers.
You’d rather want them to see the URL that reflects your company’s/brand’s name. After all, brand building is important in promotional use cases.
So, make sure you select a QR Code generator that allows you to add your own website domain or URL hash.
Hence, giving each QR Code a personalized touch.
16. Allow flexible payment options
The biggest advantage of a web-app over licensed software is flexibility. You can subscribe to the software only when you need it.
But many generators will not give you this flexibility and ask you to subscribe for a at least a year.
Check what flexible payment options does the generator have—monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, and annually.
17. Not put a limit on the number of scans
When you just start a campaign, you don’t really know if your campaign is going to be successful or not. Hence, you can certainly not be sure about how many scans your QR Code will get.
Often, QR Code generators will put a limit on the number of scans you get in your subscription plan.
So how do you choose a plan if you are not sure how many scans you will get? What happens if you exceed the limit? Does the QR Code stop?
Hence, the design of subscription plans should be based on the number of QR Codes and not on the number of scans.
So, one must opt for a QR Code generator that offers unlimited scans.
18. Keep your data secured
Whenever you use a tool or a service, you share some personal data. And ensuring that your data is in safe hands is important.
Hence, your QR Code generator must safeguard the data you share. So make sure the tool you select is GDPR compliant. Not sure what it means?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation on data protection and privacy. It ensures that the EU residents have control over how their personal data is stored and processed by organizations.
B. Best QR Code Generator—Comparison Chart
You might think—there are many QR Code generators online. Though I know what all features do I need, how do I figure out the best one? Do I compare all of them one-by-one?
Don’t worry. We conducted exhaustive research and created a detailed comparison chart.
Here is a helpful comparison of the top QR Code Generators available on the web. This will help you select the best one for your business: