QR Codes and the Art of (Christian) Communication

QR Code: christianbookshopsblog.org.uk

QR Code: christianbookshopsblog.org.uk

QR CODES: we’ve all seen them by now, those mysterious square hieroglyphic panels appearing here, there and everywhere, on adverts, flyers, newspapers, magazine covers and even bus stops — technology at its best or at its worst, depending on your point of view and whether or not you’ve got a smartphone with a QR reader app installed.

I confess that I was a QR Code sceptic, but now I’m not so sure after a fascinating conversation in the  Christian Authors, Booksellers and Publishers facebook group on Friday. I launched the conversation as follows:

Anyone here into QR codes: those square hieroglyphics that seem to be becoming increasing common on magazine covers, posters and even, bizarrely, online? Personally, I don’t trust the things and even if I had a QR zap app on my phone, I wouldn’t use it: who knows what’s been encoded in those squiggles? Could be opening the door to virus downloads, security breaches, whatever… give me a human decipherable website address anytime… and online, a link’s just fine…

… and the responses came in thick and fast, beginning with a helpful link from eden.co.uk’s Gareth Mulholland to some stats and analysis of their take-up and use in the USA:  QR Code Statistics. The report is somewhat dated by now, September last year, but nonetheless offers some fascinating insights and is well worth a look.

It rapidly became clear that I was largely alone in my scepticism, with a number of booksellers and publishers making use of the codes and seeing — or beginning to see — good response rates. Obvious typos in what follows have been corrected, but quotes are otherwise as given.

Rob Cook, OM Books, Carlisle, wasn’t entirely sure:

We have used a QR code on the posters and flyers sent to local churches: I’m not convinced it is doing us any good but it’s cheap and I’m quite certain it hasn’t done anyone any harm.

but Melanie Carroll, Unicorn Tree Books, Lincoln, was more positive:

I use QR codes here in the shop, have them up for people to zap above each section header – the writing above the code says, “Don’t browse us and then shop Amazon, use our website and get Amazon prices but still support the shop & local community! win/win for all of us here in the shop today!” Also have them up for signing up to the shop’s newsletter. 🙂

and oh, to be young again: Bill Williams thought age might be a factor:

I am using them on promotion cards and they are being used more and more by American publishing houses. Folks under 30 don’t have problems scaning a code. A great way to promote!

CLC’s Amanda Lutes was quick to reassure that their QR Codes were secure and tested:

I promise that all the QR codes used in CLC Bookshops ‘Take Note’ promotional leaflet are very secure and have been thoroughly tested. They are space savers for promo – trailers for the films, authors talking about the book, etc – one click and you’re there. Makes a promotional leaflet very interactive for the reader. Have you seen the new ‘Life Essentials Study Bible’? It’s full of QR codes with videos of Bible study talks and discussions.

For those unfamiliar with Take NoteTake Note March – April 2012; and here’s the Life Essentials Study Bible:

Geoff Wallace from Maranatha, Uxbridge, and LST, Northwood:

We now use QR codes on our promotional material at both LST and Maranatha. The brand new Illuminate Magazine at LST has a QR code that links to a special page offer for the first 30 people who come into the shop and quote the offer code.

The clincher for me, however, finally demolishing my scepticism, came from Josie Gunn of Church House Publishing and Canterbury Press:

Hello from an under-30 without a QR problem 🙂 I’m using them on marketing materials for Church House Publishing and Canterbury Press and so far, so good! They really come into their own though when they take you to exclusive content – scanned a code at a bus stop the other day to get a discount at a restaurant around the corner that’s a bit hidden out of the way – very clever! Something for bookshops to think about???

Bus stops indeed: as Josie says, very clever if your shop is hidden away in a back street rather than on the high street. Which begs two simple questions:

  • Are you using QR Codes in your marketing? If so, please share your knowledge and experience with the rest of us;
  • and if not, why not? What are your concerns?

Last but not least, for those wondering where to get their codes: look no further than QRStuff.com, h/t Sam Lenton via the ACW facebook group. There are other QR Code generators out there, of course, but when you’ve found one that works…

QRStuff.com: Get your QR codes out there!

QRStuff.com: Get your QR codes out there!

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5 thoughts on “QR Codes and the Art of (Christian) Communication

  1. If you stare closely at the QR code for a few seconds you can see the web address appear.

  2. We use QR codes at The Hub, though perhaps not as extensively as many seem to be.

    They are a great way to pack in a lot of information into a small amount of space. URLs are becoming increasingly obfuscated, and our lives are becoming increasingly digital.

    Why type http://thehub.enstore.com/item/esv-classic-thinline-trutone-blue-immitation-leather or when scanning a small code can take you straight there,

    Why watch your customer type your name, address and telephone number into their phone, when scanning a code can put all of that information on their straight away.

    Generally speaking, QR readers give you the chance to review the information scanned before taking you there, if it is a security concern. I strongly suggest using the Web of Trust browser plugin if you are at all concerned about security.

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