Recently I saw the topic of QR Codes and Microsoft Tags come up in a group that I follow. A few of the members were using one or the other and others had questions. So, I thought it would be a good topic for this week’s post on RealtyTechBytes.
What is a QR Code?
A QR code (or quick response codes as it is also known), is a type of 2D bar code that may be decoded using your Smartphone with a QR code reader. QR codes started out as a tracking mechanism for auto parts. Since then they have proven to be very useful in marketing to Smartphone users. You have probably seen QR codes show up on marketing materials such as movie posters, promotional posters for various products, billboards, flyers, among other things. These have also been seen on newspaper ads, business cards, artwork, and other everyday things.
They are IDEAL for real estate pros wishing to tie their print marketing to their online marketing. More on that later on in the article.
In order to decode a QR code you’ll need the following:
1. A smart phone with a camera and Internet connectivity
2. A QR code reader
Where do I get the reader?
It may already be installed on your recently purchased smart phone, but if not, they are available on the iPhone App store (I use QR Reader on my iPhone. Here is a link on the iTunes Store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/qr-code-reader-and-scanner/id388175979?mt=8) For other smart phones just Google free “qr reader” and the name of your phone.
How does it Work?
Once you have the reader installed, start the reader and aim your smart phone camera at the QR code that you want to read. It takes a steady hand and you do have to frame the entire code in the viewer. Once you have done it a few times you will have the hang of it. If you don’t get it the first time, just try again. There is a technique to it that is easily mastered, so don’t give up.
Once you have created an acceptable scan, the reader could take up 30 seconds to resolve the code into whatever the code provider had intended. You could be taken to a URL, in which case your phone browser will open and you will go to the website the advertiser wanted you to see. Or it could open a blank email already pre-addressed or it could even send you a text message.
How do I create my own QR Codes?
There a “ton” of free QR Code generators out there as a quick Google search for “free qr code generators” will show, but I am partial to this one for it’s simplicity and versatility: http://beqrious.com/qrcode/create. Go to that page and generate codes that allow you to send a text message, write an email or go to specific url.
What are Microsoft Tags?
Essentially, a Microsoft Tag is a new kind of bar code that does things much as a QR Code does. Tags are free to create and use. The requirements are the same as for the QR Codes. You’ll need a Microsoft Tag Reader installed on your smart phone.. When you scan a Tag using the free Tag Reader application on your mobile phone, it will automatically open a webpage, add a contact to your address book, display a message, or dial a number.
You can get a Microsoft Tag Reader at this URL (http://tag.microsoft.com/) and you can also set up an account there to generate your own Microsoft Tags. The advantage here is that the reader and generator are all available at the same place.
Why use QR Codes/Microsoft Tags?
Many of you know how I feel about print advertising, so I won’t belabor the point except to say that it is expensive and is producing diminishing results. But, there are times when you need to use it. One such instance is on property or event flyers. Another might be the occasional newspaper or magazine display ad. You may even wish to put them on property yard signs, open house signs, business cards, Just Listed cards and Just Sold cards.
There is only so much space available on printed materials or signs. Bu using some of that space to place a QR Code or Microsoft Tag, you are getting the reader to take some action to get more information from your website, or to call you or to send an email. And you have made it easy to do in the process, thereby increasing the odds that they will actually do it!
Now it’s time for you to take some action!
Get a QR Code Reader and the Microsoft Tag Reader for your smart phone and scan the QR Tags and the Microsoft Tag that I have placed in this post to see them in action! Have fun!