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Using QR Codes in Books, Magazines, and Other Paper Publications

Posted by: Chuck Eglinton on: July 17, 2012

Getting in touch with readers can be challenging. Once someone has read an article, book, or magazine, how can the author be sure they’ll remember the message? What if the publication advertises a larger business or campaign that requires further investigation? Even if the author includes a link or phone number, there is no guarantee the consumer will remember it long enough to actually seek that business out.

QR codes are a great way to encourage readers to follow through to that website, call the number provided, or view whatever other content the author chooses to share. The QR code might even urge the readers to interact with the article or participate in an activity set up by the author.
If an author chooses to link the QR code to an unchanging source, this is called static content. a static content QR code might be

  • A simple, consistent message: “Thank you for visiting My Company! We are located at First and Main Street. You can contact us at… ”
  • A special offer: “Please enjoy this 10% off coupon code!”
  • A video or image: A good option if the company has a welcome video.
  • A signup form for a mailing list
  • or any other message meant to remain the same over time.


QR codes also provide a fantastic way to expose readers to changing information, otherwise known as dynamic content. A QR code simply sends the user to whatever website is encoded in the image, meaning that the author of a QR code could easily change the content of that website at any time without needing to alter the QR code. An author might also use a service which allows the user to manage the dynamic content of a QR code without the hassle of maintaining and changing a website. Even a business with a static website can use a QR code to offer a giveaway, coupon deals, or other special incentives for scanning the code.  Great uses for a dynamic content QR code include

  • A ‘tip of the day’
  • A blog or regularly updating website
  • A giveaway
  • A poll


Dynamic content is a big step in reader-writer communication, but one that could be achieved with a website as well. The most exciting new option with a QR code is an opportunity for direct, instantaneous interaction: now an author can link a QR code to a pre-addressed SMS message that the reader can fill out and send within seconds. This SMS campaign allows the author to send automated texts to the reader as long as the reader allows them. After the campaign has been established, the QR code works like this:

1) The reader scans the QR code
2) The code pulls up an SMS form on the reader’s screen with the “Send to” number already inserted.
3) The reader types a word into the text field and presses send. The author must include this word with the QR code wherever the code is printed, as the QR code cannot fill in the text of the message.
4) That word triggers a reply text which can include whatever information the author chooses, be it static or dynamic.

For more information on how to set up an SMS campaign, you can visit http://www.tatango.com/blog/sms-marketing-with-qr-codes/

The fewer steps it takes a reader to access a website the more likely they will take time out to visit it, and scanning a QR code requires significantly less effort than writing down a website to view later. However, an author should be aware that more readers will be inclined to scan a QR code if they get something out of the deal instead of simply being asked to sign up for an email list. Including an incentive like a special offer is the key to making the QR code with scanning.

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