Web addresses, short codes and QR codes are common tools that allow readers to quickly access digital content from print media.
Web Addresses (URL)
At the beginning, companies having their own web pages listed their web address on print advertising, business cards and product packaging. Users understood this and simply typed the address in a browser. It became a problem if the advertiser wanted to send the reader to a URL that’s was long (Ex: youtube video or product page). There are solutions like tiny.url, bit.ly or goo.gl that can shorten a long URL to something that’s easily remembered. Now that we are talking of a larger mobile audience, if you do list a URL on print advertising, be sure it points to a mobile friendly website.
Used in SMS or text marketing, a short code is a word that you can text to a phone number and get a response. Short codes were used to get customers inside a marketing campaign. Nowadays, the response usually includes a hyperlink. If you text “Angry Birds” to 36362 you will get a response that includes a hyperlink to download the Angry Birds App. Most people understand how it works but disadvantage is that it requires the user to remember both the short code and the number to text it to.
QR Code is short for “Quick Response” Code and was originally developed by Toyota to track their inventory. Being an open source, there are a lot of QR code reader apps available on different mobile platforms. When a user scans a QR Code, it can respond by taking the user to a specific web address. For now, it’s the best method to bridge print to mobile. It’s free to use – just Google “QR Code Generator” and you’ll find sites that create QR codes for free. It’s open source so you can add a QR code reader function to your own app.
The main problem with QR codes is that a lot of people just don’t know what it’s used for. Hint: a QR code is a tool that points to a web address. It should just be used in the same way that displaying a web address is used. QR codes will be more and more understood as more and more people start understanding their smartphones.
Whatever reason you have to send people to a web page – let them know what they’re getting. If they scan the QR code, they can get an app or get a discount, etc.