How to Create QR Codes that Last Forever

Today I’m going to show you how to create QR Codes that last forever. They’ll never need to be replaced or reprinted – even if the original URL no longer exists.

I call this “The Everlasting Gobstopper of URL Based QR Codes”.

QR Code Art

A QR Code is a funky digital marketing concoction that looks like something you’d see hanging on a wall at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory than on a print ad, retail store poster, restaurant, or used in a digital campaign.

QR codes are incredibly versatile and widely used in digital marketing. They provide a convenient way to connect offline materials with online content, making them an essential tool for businesses and marketers.

Despite their advantages, QR codes also come with inherent challenges when used in their traditional form. In this guide, we’ll show you how to create QR codes that last forever, allowing you to seamlessly update their destinations without needing to reprint the codes, and overcoming some of the common challenges associated with traditional QR codes.

What You Need to Know About QR Codes

A QR code (Quick Response code) is a scannable barcode that can store information such as URLs, text, phone numbers, and more. These codes are often used to give people quick access to websites, promotions, contact information, and other digital content. One of the key challenges with QR codes is that they are static, meaning they can’t be edited once created.

Common Uses for QR Codes

QR codes can be used in a variety of ways to enhance marketing efforts, customer engagement, and information sharing. Common uses for QR codes include:

  • Website URLs: Direct customers to your website, landing pages, or e-commerce platforms.
  • Promotions and Discounts: Share special offers, discounts, or coupon codes to incentivize purchases.
  • Contact Information: Provide quick access to your phone number, email address, or vCard.
  • Social Media: Encourage customers to follow or connect with your social media profiles.
  • Product Information: Offer detailed information, specifications, or user manuals for products.
  • Event Registration: Simplify event sign-ups or ticket purchases by directing users to a registration page.
  • Digital Menus: Use QR codes in restaurants or cafes to give customers access to digital menus.

Benefits of Using QR Codes in Marketing

QR codes offer a wide range of benefits for marketing and customer engagement:

  • Convenience: QR codes provide quick and easy access to digital content by simply scanning the code with a smartphone camera.
  • Versatility: QR codes can be printed on various materials, including flyers, posters, product packaging, business cards, and more.
  • vMeasurability: QR codes can be tracked to gather data on scans, user locations, and engagement, allowing you to measure the success of your campaigns.

  • Customer Experience: QR codes enhance customer experience by providing instant access to valuable information and resources.
  • Bridging Online and Offline: QR codes create a seamless link between physical and digital marketing, allowing you to integrate both in your overall strategy.

Challenges and Problems with Traditional QR Codes

When used in their traditional form, QR codes come with several limitations:

  • QR Code Size vs. Readability: The more information a QR Code needs to store, the more complex and dense the encoded pattern becomes. And the more complex the pattern is, the bigger the QR Code needs to be for a smartphone to accurately read it.
  • Static and Unchangeable: Once created, traditional QR codes cannot be edited. This means that if the destination URL changes, the QR code becomes obsolete and must be recreated and reprinted.
  • Reprinting Costs: When a URL change renders a QR code invalid, businesses incur additional costs in reprinting marketing materials with updated QR codes.
  • Limited Lifespan: Promotions, campaigns, and webpages may have limited lifetimes. When the associated QR codes can no longer direct users to relevant content, their usefulness diminishes.
  • Inability to Track: Basic QR codes don’t provide insights into scan metrics, making it difficult to measure the success of campaigns or gather data on user engagement.

These limitations can hinder the effectiveness of QR codes in marketing and lead to inefficiencies in time and resources.

How to Create Better QR Code

If you want to create a more reliable QR Code that’s easier to scan, the first step is to shorten the original URL using a URL shortening service such as bit.ly.

To demonstrate the difference in what a QR code looks like using a long URL versus a shorted URL, we’ll first create a QR Code using the URL of this webpage:

/articles/marketing/how-to-create-qr-codes-that-last-forever/

QR Code using original full URL

And this is a QR Code using a shortened URL for the same page:
http://bit.ly/nbPE76

QR Code using URL shortening service

As you can see, the QR Code created from the longer URL is more complicated and harder to scan so you want to start with the shortest URL possible.

Although the QR Code created from the shortened URL is cleaner and easier to scan, we can do better.

Overcoming the Limitations with Everlasting QR Codes

To create QR Codes that last forever, we’ll use a technique involving URL redirects.

What is a URL redirect?

An URL (Uniform Resource Locator) redirect is a method used to automatically redirect web traffic from one URL to another. This redirection can occur either on the same domain or to a different domain entirely. This allows you to change the destination URL of a QR code without altering the QR code itself, addressing the challenges associated with traditional QR codes.

Benefits of Using an URL Redirect

Here are four benefits to using URL redirects. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on number 2 – simplifying a URL to make it shorter.

  1. Preserving Links: When the URL of a webpage changes (e.g., due to a website redesign or rebranding), a redirect ensures that users who visit the old URL are automatically taken to the new URL, preventing “404 Not Found” errors and maintaining link continuity.
  2. Simplifying URLs: URL redirects can be used to create shorter, user-friendly URLs that are easier to remember and share. These short URLs can then be redirected to longer or more complex URLs.
  3. Tracking and Analytics: Redirects can be used to track user behavior, such as click-through rates and source of traffic, providing valuable insights for marketing and analytics purposes.
  4. Flexibility: URL redirects offer flexibility in digital marketing campaigns by allowing changes to the destination URL without altering QR codes or printed materials. This is especially useful for time-limited promotions or updating content.

Overall, URL redirects enhance user experience, improve website navigation, and provide valuable flexibility and control to website owners and marketers.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Everlasting QR Codes

Now that we understand the benefits of using redirects, let’s learn how to use one to create a better QR Code that will last forever.

1. Decide on a short URL

Instead of using the long URL for this page, we will create a much shorter URL.

Since this article is about QR Codes, we will use /qrcodes/ as the short URL identifier.
The final shortened URL looks like his:
https://www.kristofcreative.com/qrcodes/

Note: the short URL identifier can be anything you choose. Just make sure it’s shorter, memorable, the name relates to the page it’s redirecting to, and the URL doesn’t already exist.

2. Create the Redirect

This is how we created the redirect using the Redirection plugin for WordPress.

WordPress Redirection plugin interface for creating a URL redirect

Now, anytime someone clicks on a link using the new URL, it will automatically send them to the original URL.

3. Generate Your QR Code

If you want, you can create a QR Code using the shorter URL, It’s definitely much better, but not the best method.

Here’s what a QR Code looks like using the shorter URL:

QR Code using shorter URL created using a redirect

4. Use a URL Shortener Service

For the absolute BEST results, use a URL shortening service to generate a shorter URL. This will give you the most flexibility and provide analytics for tracking purposes.

This URL: http://www.kristofcreative.com/qrcodes/

has now been shortened to this: http://bit.ly/nlC0HQ

5. Create QR Code using the bit.ly Links

This provide the cleanest and simplest QR Code that can be placed on marketing materials, product packaging, digital campaigns, promotions, and more.

The QR Code using the the bit.ly URL looks like this:
QR Code created using a short redirect URL then shortened again by a URL shortening service.

And finally, a side-by-side comparison of all three QR Codes;

Side-by-side comparison of all three qr codes

Original, full URL (Left). Shorter URL (middle). And shortened URL using the redirect (right).

As you can see, using a shorter URL is better than using a longer one when creating a QR Code.

But the Best option is to create a shorter URL using a redirect, use a URL shortening service to make it even shorter, then create the QR Code from that.

And Best of all, once you create a QR Code using this method, you’ll never have to create another one!

 

Key Takeaways

  • Traditional QR codes, while versatile, come with challenges, including being unchangeable, incurring reprinting costs, having a limited lifespan, and lacking tracking abilities.
  • Creating everlasting QR codes using URL redirects overcomes these challenges by allowing you to change the destination URL without changing the QR code itself.
  • This technique allows you to keep QR codes relevant, reduce costs, and improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
  • By following these steps, you can create QR codes that are adaptable and can be updated as needed, making them an efficient and effective tool for your digital marketing efforts.

    What do you think? Have you started using QR Codes? How effective have they been for you? Drop a comment and share how and where you’ve been using them.

    QR Code Resources
    What Size Should A QR Code Be?
    Why QR Codes Could Disrupt Your SEO URL Strategy
    QR Code Art on Flickr
    QR Codes on Mashable

Please post your thoughts and comments below. Thanks!

0 Comments