News from IT that isn't just for geeks

Need to Market Your Content? Use QR Codes!

Posted on: July 12th, 2011 by Deetra Wiley

by Deetra Wiley

Scan QR Code with your Smart Phone (Must Download “QR Code Reader” app.)

A Quick Response (QR) Code is similar to a standard barcode, but is more useful because it can embed a variety of data, linking to URLs, addresses, and text.  These graphical images (QR Codes) provide immediate access to a variety of digital information and are easily printed onto anything, like brochures, t-shirts, or just plain paper!

Perhaps you’ve seen a QR Code on a business card, invoice, advertisement, website, or next to an article in a magazine, etc.  QR Codes are paving the way to many businesses as well as institutions of higher learning by assisting in the marketing of their material.  Some businesses are using QR Codes to give access to company information, promote products, provide coupons, and direct to social and voice media sites, etc.

“They are great for providing content in a mixed (print, online, broadcast) environment,”  says Peter Cleary,  University Brand Services. Our clients around campus are excited about what they can do with QR Codes.   Various areas on the UM campus are starting to see the potential for being able to expand information in new ways.”

Here at the University of Mississippi (UM),  Enrollment Services,  the Library, Writing Center, and   Office of Information Technology are just a few groups using QR Codes to market some of their materials.

How do I use a QR Code?

If you have a smart phone with a QR Code Reader application installed, then you are in business!    If not, you can search for QR Reader to download.   Once the software has been installed on your smart phone, the QR Code can be scanned using the camera on your phone.  You will, then, be directed to the information you’ve scanned.

How are QR Codes Created?

Generating a QR Code is simple,  but the content to where code links is the most critical component.  “QR Codes may be easily set up and there are many ways to generate it from desktop software to websites, ” says Cleary. “Some sites will allow you to access wi-fi hotspots, collect contact information and send an SMS.  However, marketing studies show they are not as effective if they just link to an existing website.”

University Brand Services offers assistance and recommendations with ways to use the QR Codes across a number of different printed materials or platforms which is inexpensive and often free.  They offer the best solutions to utilizing, setting up, and linking QR Codes to a mobile site while monitoring the success rate.

It seems is the commonly used site to create these codes in the UM community.   Be on the lookout for QR Codes, scan areas and topics of interest, and create your own.  Go ahead! Feed your curiosity!


QR Code Experiences

Just by googling “QR Codes,” I used to create a QR Code for my personal website and used to generate the code for this article!  I’ve since noticed these codes on bills, business cards, etc. and it’s so much easier to scan this material to my phone instead of writing it down or trying to remember it!   Just like technology, We should “keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things that will keep leading us down new paths”  (Walt Disney).

Below, are a few shared experiences on using QR Codes:

Brenda Robertson, UM Writing Center

The QR Code is a novelty to some students and has served as a great promotional tool. We are using a Twitter QR Code to reach out to freshmen through summer Orientation.

We also  enjoy tweeting our announcements and re-tweeting helpful materials from other writing centers on Twitter.  We have two tutors contributing entertaining tweets, so we can maintain student interest.  It’s been fun!   Freshman students usually say “Cool” while a few are unfamiliar with QR Codes. We provide directions to a scanner application on our handouts, but there are students who do not yet own smart phones.  We suggest that these students follow “OleMissWCenter” through Twitter online.

Teresa McCarverThe IT Helpdesk

The QR Code that is included in the Online @ Ole Miss flyer is a link to digital content on the Web. The Web version contains additional or expanded information that is not included in the printed version.  Having the QR Code that links to the Web based version of the document allows for the updating of information as necessary.

Jenny Kate Luster, Enrollment Services

Here at the   Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services , we currently use QR Codes on  a direct mail piece targeting high achieving high school students and their parents, as well as our viewbook used for a variety of recruitment purposes.  The codes are primarily used as a “call to action” to take students or parents to videos where they can hear from current students on a variety of topics.  They also allow students to schedule a visit directly from their smartphone.  For our office, QR Codes have been a way to engage students with the message we want them to hear about Ole Miss.  Because the QR Code takes them to a dedicated website, we can track the number of students that responded for a particular marketing piece and gauge the piece’s success for future years.  In research conducted with the direct mail piece, students indicated that they’d be more likely to respond to a piece that included something interactive like the QR Code versus reading a brochure with a lot of marketing.

Melissa Dennis, University of Mississippi Libraries

We put QR Codes in ads in the DM last spring to take students to a library survey.  When encouraging users to get Ole Miss Express  for printing purposes,  we included QR Codes on flyers  and in the  Daily Mississipian which linked to the Ole Miss Express website.  We have also added QR Codes in orientation brochures to connect users with our Facebook page. We use to generate our QR Codes.   Just copy/paste in any URL and it creates a code (small, medium, large) that you can copy and paste into any document.   Print it, and that’s it!

Interested UM departments are encouraged to contact University Brand Services at (662) 915-7066 or for assistance and questions regarding QR Codes, and for marketing of materials.