When we first discussed QR codes with our health, wellness and fitness readers in 2009, these codes were simply not familiar enough to most US consumers to justify their use.
However, they’re quickly becoming instantly recognizable, so we now recommend that you consider QR codes as an effective and attention-grabbing part of your everyday marketing toolkit.
In this feature, we explain what a QR code is, how it works, and how you can use it most effectively in your health club, yoga studio, wellness center or weight loss business.
What’s a QR code?
A QR code – “quick response code” – is a square barcode. People scan the codes with a QR reader that they download to their smartphones from the Apple or Android app store.
Scanning the code initiates an action, like connecting to a website, making a phone call, or launching a video.
How do we create one?
It’s easy and free. Say you want to send people to the landing page for your product, and the web address is:
That’s a lot to expect someone to type into a browser – especially using a mobile browser on a phone.
Then, download a QR reader – for example, QR Droid or Google Goggles or I-Nigma. This reader uses the camera built into your smartphone to scan and interpret the QR code.
Once you’ve installed it, bring up the QR reader and aim it at the barcode. Voila! Your phone takes you to the target web address or initiates another action.
Tips and Tricks
- No one randomly scans QR codes just to see what they might point to. It is absolutely essential that you always accompany the QR code with brief text explaining what they’re going to get, like this example from Garnet Hill pointing to Kripalu’s yoga website. Otherwise, no one will scan your code.
- Good places to put QR codes: anywhere they’ll be seen by people have time to kill. Examples include posters in restroom stalls or on restroom mirrors, signage across from mass transit stops, and bumper stickers.
- If you’re promoting a specific product or service, link to a landing page dedicated to that service – don’t just point to the home page for your website.
- Generally, once you create a QR code, it’s permanently linked to that web address. The only way to point that QR code to a new location is to use a 301 redirect that repoints the original web address to the new one. However, services like Delivr handle that redirect for you.
- Feel like experimenting? You can embed images like logos in QR codes. Use these tips to make sure your QR code still works. Or buy a custom QR code from the folks at QRlicious.
- If QR codes are a key element of your marketing plan, QRStuff.com offers analytics plus batch production of high-res QR codes suitable for commercial printing on t-shirts and other products.
- Not everyone recognizes QR codes or has a smartphone. For those folks, consider including a tiny link that says something like “Or: bit.ly/wellnesstrends”. Using an URL (web address) shortener like bit.ly economizes on space on your printed collateral.
A Dozen Starter Ideas
1) Health clubs: make it easy for members to report equipment problems by putting individual QR codes on each cardio station that send a repair request email when scanned. Much better than relying on telling someone at the front desk.
2) Treadmill and elliptical manufacturers: put a QR code on your products so that buyers can quickly scan and link to online instruction manuals or service requests.
3) Put them on t-shirts – just make sure that they point to something worthwhile, not just your home page.
4) If you sell corporate wellness services, include a QR code in your marketing materials that lets prospective workplace wellness clients download a whitepaper.
5) Stick one on your business card and point it to your LinkedIn profile.
6) Do you always start with the same five back strengthening exercises for people with low back pain? Create a reference sheet for clients that lists each exercise with a QR code that points to a video demonstration with form pointers.
7) Does your weight loss program tweet daily motivational tips or food swap tips? Point your QR code to your Twitter account to get more followers.
8) Include QR codes in vehicle wraps. People sitting in traffic have time to kill, so this is a terrific QR code application.
9) Add a QR code to your wellness center’s website Contact Us page that links to a phone number or email address. That way you’re stored in their phone.
10) Include it in the call to action on direct mail postcards.
11) Do you offer seminars or webinars on fitness, corporate wellness or weight loss? Include a QR code that lets people send you their email addresses to sign up for your free newsletter.
12) And QR codes are a great way to capture email addresses when you attend health, wellness and fitness tradeshows, conventions or expos.