How to Use QR Codes in Marketing

QR Codes have been used by marketers for years now. They are those square barcodes that may have sparked your curiosity in magazine ads, TV commercials, or on bus stop benches. Dense with information, QR Codes (the QR stands for Quick Response) can store many types of data, including URLs, phone numbers, or email addresses. Lately, I’ve been noticing clever uses of them in my everyday life.

QR Code Applications


A recent flight on American Airlines enlightened me to a highly effective use of this new technology, mobile boarding passes. I checked into my flight online and was a sent an email with a link to the airline’s website, containing an image of my boarding information. No paper was needed. When I got to the airport, I just used the image on my phone (which I was of course already planning to take with me) to pass security and board the plane.


Print newspapers all over the country (such as The Oklahoman in which I saw this application) are beginning to use QR Codes to link to supplemental content at the end of a column or article. The newspaper can conserve paper and yet still give the reader more options of what content to consume. The reader can stop at the end of the article or can use a mobile device to see additional multimedia content like a video of the news report.


More and more I’ve begun to see clothing with QR Codes on them. Most recently, booth workers at a conference wore t-shirts with a QR Code that linked to detailed marketing information about their product. I’ve also seen this strategy used on the shirts given out at 5K races, which explained more information about the charitable cause that was the focus of the race.

Scanning QR Codes

Clearly, QR Codes are not yet omnipresent. The majority of the population does not know how to consume them let alone own a device that can do it easily. Indeed, the best way to read the information in a QR Code is to have a smart phone with a QR Code Reader app and a camera. Sometimes the app is included with the phone. Other times it must be downloaded after purchase. Still, QR Codes have tremendous utility. They are small, information-packed markings and the exploration of their applications will continue. I believe they will evolve into an important technology of each of our everyday lives.

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