If you’re trying to encourage purchases or provide a better in-store experience, then you should be using QR codes. To help you, we’ve put together 5 simple steps that will let you harness the power of this popular technology. And if you’d like to find out just how simple it is, you can sign up for a free trial of our QR codes software.

The Power of QR Codes

What makes QR codes such a powerful tool is their ability to turn physical displays into compelling, interactive experiences — with a great return on investment. A well-designed campaign can drive sales and provide shoppers with the information they need to make a buying decision, while giving you an edge over the competition.

Today’s shoppers are tech-savvy and hungry for engaging mobile content. According to a February 2012 survey by Google, three-quarters of smartphone shoppers used their device in a store during the holiday season to help them shop. In another survey released this past January, Chadwick Martin Bailey found that 43 percent of consumers would scan a QR code in order to gain access to discounts, coupons, and free items. Approximately 25 percent also cited an interest in scanning a QR code to get more information about a product, gain access to exclusive content, or to make a purchase.

5 Simple Steps to Harness the Power of QR Codes

1. Determine your objective: Start by determining the campaign objective, as well as the media the code will be printed on and where it will be displayed. For example, your objective might be to drive purchases of a specific product. So you plan to accomplish this by using a code, which links to a coupon or special offer, located on a prominent POS display.

Best Practice: Always provide a reason to scan your QR code, be it a coupon, offer, or other compelling content, like a product demo or exclusive information.

2. Create the destination for your QR code: Your QR code should bring the shopper somewhere other than your website. Creating a mobile Web page may sound complicated, but it’s actually very simple. In fact, there are several easy- to-use programs available to help you design your page — regardless of your technical experience.

Best Practice: Always link your codes to Web pages that are formatted and optimized for mobile devices.

3. Create the QR code: There are a number of great QR code generators available, but take care in choosing one. Be sure to use a generator that creates a universal, square-proportioned code. Also, use dramatically contrasting colors between the background and the QR code. For example, a black QR code with a white background will always scan well. And, of course, test it with your smartphone before your launch your campaign!

Best Practice: Use a QR code generator from a reputable company. You don’t want to have your work hijacked or deleted.

4. Create the media: Now that you have a plan, a mobile page, and a QR code, it’s time to put that code somewhere. Print your QR code on POS displays, price tags, shelf edging, and posters. If it isn’t feasible to print entirely new materials, just print your QR code and call to action on adhesive labels and stick them on your displays, front window, and fitting rooms.

Best Practice: Always use a compelling and clear call to action. For example, “Scan the code for a 10 percent discount.” If necessary, provide instructions: “Scan the code using the QR code reader on your smartphone. Don’t have a QR Code reader? Download one at either the iPhone or Android app stores.”

5. Tracking and follow-up: Track the results, such as number of scans, throughout the life of each campaign. These results will help indicate how successful the campaign is or if perhaps something needs tweaking, and will give you useful shopper insight to leverage for future campaigns.

Best Practice: Use a QR code application that includes tracking and analytics capabilities. If this isn’t available, you can use Google Analytics or a similar application.

As a retailer operating in this tough environment, you can’t ignore the potential of QR codes. A successful campaign can motivate a purchase and improve shopper satisfaction and loyalty at low cost.

Next Steps

Get our Practical Guide to QR Codes for the Small Business Marketer. Create your first complete QR code campaign for free, using pbSmart Codes.