Monday, June 4, 2012

What are QR Codes?

We met the ever lovely M. K. Hobson at the Atkinson Author Fair in Oregon City, OR in May.  We had so much fun geeking out and bonding over our  shared love of all things marketing, we asked M. K. to guest blog. All three of our posts, this week, are dedicated to her QR Code skills.  Thanks, M. K., for sharing your knowledge with your fellow authors!


Most authors spend a lot of time and energy trying to attract and retain a loyal, engaged audience. But unless you measure the return you're getting on the time and energy you are investing, how do you know if it's well spent? In today's guest blog post, I'm going to talk about one tracking mechanism—the QR code—that is not only quick and easy to use, but can help you measure the effectiveness of your marketing materials. And once you know that, you can optimize your efforts ... leaving more time for writing!

First of all, what are QR codes exactly?

A QR Code (the “QR” stands for "Quick Response") is a cell-phone readable bar code. It has a very distinctive look:

You've seen those before, right? That one up there is a shortcut to my own personal Website, But you could encode any string of letters and numbers (up to about 4300 characters, roughly the amount of text in this blog post) into one. QR codes are internationally standardized, so even if you generate it here it can be read anywhere around the world.

How are they used?

Smartphone users can download a special scanning app that allows the phone to read QR codes.

So, why should I be interested?

QR codes allow readers to quickly and easily to access a Web URL or other piece of digital content via their mobile device. So, if you're at a cocktail party, having a witty and charming conversation with someone about your latest book, and they ask where a copy can be purchased, you no longer have to say "look it up on Amazon when you get home." You can pull out a copy of your business card with the QR code on it, scan it right into their phone, and a copy can be winging its way to them before you've even finished your drink.

Admittedly, in our little cocktail party scenario you could also use their smartphone to order the book the old fashioned way ... using Google Search, clicking through the browser link to Amazon, etc. But one of the primary rules in marketing is "reduce friction." That means make it easy for the buyer to make the sale. QR codes significantly reduce friction.

Check in on Wednesday for Tracking Marketing Effectiveness Using QR Codes.

M.K. Hobson is the author of the Nebula-nominated THE NATIVE STAR and THE HIDDEN GODDESS, both of which are available through the usual venues.
She attended the University of Oregon, where she ran Catalyst Films (the campus film society), helped launch The Student Insurgent (a radical progressive ‘zine that’s still being published) 

Currently, she is one of the co-hosts of Podcastle

Learn more at:

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