A QR code, or quick response code, is a type of barcode that may be scanned using a smartphone that has a QR code reader. The information encoded in the QR code may be a link to your website or other online location, text or any number of additional data objects.

QR codes were first used to track parts in vehicle manufacturing. Today, QR codes are used to direct consumers to more information about a company or product. QR codes are seen in advertisements, point-of-purchase displays, magazines, signs, on buses, business cards and marketing materials. Using a program like BeeTagg or one of the other QR readers that comes installed in smartphones, a picture is taken of the barcode and the phone’s internet browser goes to the location designated.

How could this benefit your business? The primary benefit of QR codes is to encourage interaction. A QR code can be used to drive traffic to your website or to increase “Likes” for your Facebook page. These codes can be easily integrated into marketing efforts, leading mobile users to your online content in real time.

There are many paid and free QR code-generating sites or apps. You might use the free service delivr.com to generate QR codes for your business. QR codes can even track data as to the number of scans and the times they occurred. More data and analytics are available with some QR code-management systems (usually for a fee). What a way to generate leads for your business.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com.