Last updated: May 05, 2016
This article is a complete guide on how to make QR Codes like a marketing expert.
If you are just starting out with QR Codes, I would recommend first reading What is a QR Code: A Beginner’s Guide. This guide assumes you know what QR Codes are and what you want to achieve with them. After reading this article, you will be able to:
- Generate and design QR Codes
- Ensure that you get a high conversion rate for your campaigns.
1. Choose target media
QR Codes bridge the gap between physical media and online content. In the context of marketing, a QR Code is almost always placed on printed campaign material.
Depending on your next marketing campaign, this can include any of the following:
1.2 Digital media
You can also display QR Code images on digital media screens shown below:
If you add a QR Code on such screens, ensure the following:
- The screen (and QR Code) is viewable and accessible to the end-consumers
- There is ample time opportunity for a consumer to scan the QR Code, before the screen changes
Some marketers add QR Codes on their websites. This is a tricky one. Here is why:
- You need to know that majority of your audience will view your website on a computer screen. If they view it on their mobile phones, they cannot do much with the QR Code, can they?
- For website viewers on a computer, use a QR Code with content that they can access using a mobile device. For example, App Store link to download an app or Vcard to save contact details
- If your QR Code content is a link, you might as well give the user the link instead of a QR Code
2. Choose a QR Code Generator
If you Google ‘qr code generator’, you will find many sites that can generate QR Codes. If your need is basic, then you can go with any one of them.
But if you are a serious marketer, you should choose the best QR Code generator that suits your needs.
For instance, if you just need a QR Code for your business card, you can create a simple Vcard QR Code. At no cost. But if you need content editing or scan tracking, you will need a better QR Code generator.
In summary, a good generator should be able to create a QR Code that:
- Can have a personalised design
- Can store the content you need – website URLs, app store links, text, contact info, etc.
- Show content on mobile landing pages if you don’t have your own website
- Allow editing of content in the future
- Can track scanning activity and show analytics
For this guide and demonstration, we will choose the Scanova QR Code Generator.
3. Choose target content
If you are a marketer, you need to know your business goal.
Do you want to :
- Drive traffic to your website?
- Increase social media following?
- Share contact information for better networking?
No matter what your goal is, there is a QR Code for it. The most popular ones are Website URL, Vcard, and Text QR Codes.
Generally, generators provide customized options as well. For example, with Scanova, you can create as many as 23 different types of QR Codes.
Each QR Code will have a specific task for the end user. For example, Website URL will prompt the user to see a website, Simple Vcard to save contact details, and App Store links to download a mobile app.
See what each QR Codes does: QR Code Examples: 23 types of QR Codes to engage customers.
4. Add content
If you have chosen the QR Code you want to create, the next step is straightforward. You need to add the content.
In a Website URL QR Code, add the URL of the website.
In a Social Media QR Code, add links to all your social media profiles
Once you have added content, click on Create QR Code to proceed.
5. Choose functionality
When creating a QR Code, good QR Code generators will ask you to add functionality to your QR Codes.
5.1 Static QR Codes
You will get a choice to make your QR Code either ‘Static’ or ‘Dynamic’.
A Static QR Code is the most basic form of a QR Code. It is just like a barcode but can store more information. The target data (URL, text, contact information, etc.) is encoded into the QR Code. This makes the QR Code permanent. Once generated, you cannot edit the target content.
Most free QR Code generators you come across on the web are static QR Code generators. Their only function is to store and display data when scanned.
Read more about Static QR Codes.
5.2 Dynamic QR Codes
A Dynamic QR Code stores only URLs compared to Static QR Codes. But, with a Dynamic QR Code, you can:
- Edit the target URL anytime
- Activate/deactivate the QR Code
- Add password-protection
- Track scanning activity and get analytics
Dynamic QR Codes encodes a short URL (provided by the QR Code generator) that leads you to the target URL.
(Tip for Standard Scanova users: You can personalize the hash of this short URL. Pro users: You can mask this short URL with your own domain URL).
Marketers, who want flexibility with their campaigns, choose dynamic QR Codes over static ones.
Read more about Dynamic QR Codes.
If your QR Code is for a limited audience only, then you can password-protect the target content.
For example: If you wish to show a confidential PDF document via a QR Code, only authorized people with a password will be able to access the link.
(Tip for Standard & Pro Scanova users: You can password-protect every Dynamic QR Code)
Read more about Password Protection in QR Codes.
6. Personalize design
That’s right. QR Codes don’t have to be just black-and-white. Good generators allow you to personalize the design of the QR Code to match your brand.
Here are all the possibilities of designing:
6.1 Standard Black-and-White (No Design)
This is the original design of the QR Code. Most free generators will give you this design or rather the lack of it.
6.2 Custom design with logo
This type of design allows you edit colors and patterns of the Eyes and Modules. You can also add a logo or image in the center of the QR Code.
6.3 Custom design with background
Another way to design a QR Code is to merge it over an image.
6.4 Custom design via image editors
QR Code generators can help you design in most cases (without a graphic designer). But, you might need a completely personalized design for your campaign. Something like this:
To design a QR Code like this, you will need to make the edits in an image editor like Photoshop. Ensure that you generate a base version in the QR Code generator. Then, export the image in vector format (SVG, PDF, EPS, PS).
It is a known fact that custom QR Codes attract more scans than black-and-white QR Codes. Here is a list of examples where popular brands have a used a custom QR Code.
Once you have finalized the design, make sure you test it before mass printing. Adding design can affect the scannability of the QR Code.
7. Download QR Code image
If you have finalized the design, you can proceed to download the QR Code image.
But you must take note of the following:
7.1 Image size
Depending on your use case and print media, you will need to export the QR Code in a particular size. If your QR Code is too small, it won’t scan. If it’s too large, you will waste valuable space and mess up the design of your marketing material.
So calculate the msize of your QR Code.
7.2 Image format
Do you need a large QR Code? If you download your QR Code in PNG and scale the size, the image will pixelate. You might want to download the image in vector format. Vector images do not lose quality with increase or decrease in the size of the image.
7.3 Error correction
One major advantage of QR Codes over barcodes is that QR Codes have error correction. This means that even if the QR Code gets damaged (up to 30%), it will remain scannable.
This is the reason you can design QR Codes. A design is nothing but error introduced in a QR Code.
Increase the error correction level if :
- Your QR Code is susceptible to wear and tear (such as in a factory)
- You are adding design
A good generator will allow you to choose between 4 levels – Low (L), Medium (M), High (H), and Very High (H).
Note : With an increase in error correction, the density (of data modules per inch) also increases.
(Tip for Scanova users – You can choose error correction in Advanced Export option in the Download menu).
8. Manage QR Codes
After you have created, designed, downloaded, and deployed your QR Codes, you will need to manage them. Here are the possibilities:
If you have created dynamic QR Codes, you can track scanning activity and get analytics. For example, if you are using Scanova, you can get number of scans by :
- Device (mobile, tablet, PC)
Read more about QR Code Tracking and Analytics.
8.2 QR Code Management
Some QR Code generators also allow you to manage QR Codes which essentially means, you can:
- Edit content of Dynamic QR Codes
- Activate/De-activate Dynamic QR Codes
- Organize QR Codes in Campaigns or Folders
- Activate/De-activate campaigns
- Edit design and download QR Code images
Read more about QR Code Management
If you are still reading, congratulations. You are now an expert on creating QR Codes.
But in addition to technical knowledge, some practical knowledge is necessary. Here is your next step-