Using QR Codes - Why, When, Where and How

A one-page guide to using QR codes in your print advertising.


Attract interested, informed, action-ready visitors to your website. Your print material should interest them and prepare them for action. A QR code is the fastest, easiest way for them to get to your site and engage.


  • When you are ready to respond to QR-generated traffic with targeted, mobile-friendly content.
  • When you have something useful to say to people who scan the QR code. Make your visitors glad they scanned your QR code.
  • When you are ready to track your QR-generated traffic to see how your advertising dollars are working.


  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Brochures, flyers, pamphlets, etc.
  • Mailings
  • Posters and sidewalk signage
  • Packaging
  • Point-of-sale displays
  • Business cards

Not Here:

  • Billboards - don't invite scanning while driving.
  • Websites - your visitors are already online, use a link. 
  • Scanning-obscured locations - behind screens, bars, or other obstructions that prevent convenient scanning. 


1. Select a URL

Your QR code will take the reader to a particular page on your site when it is scanned. Choose (or build) that page carefully, taking into account your goals and the context of the printed material the reader is looking at. The page should be a logical and helpful next step in their engagement with your site.

Don't make visitors have to search or navigate on your site. Take them directly to your product info page, restaurant menu, ticket purchase page, etc.

Don't let your QR codes turn into dead ends. Have a plan to redirect obsolete URLs to a current page.

Try to keep the URL short. Shorter URLs make more easily scanned QR codes. URL shorteners can be helpful here.

2. Make the QR code

You can get free, plain QR codes easily. Google for 'QR code maker'.

Also, many word processors have built-in QR code makers.

For better results, get a better QR code right here on this site.

3. Put the QR code in your printed material

The QR code is included as an image in the printed product, just like a logo or photo. Make sure is it noticeable and easily scannable.

Test your work - make sure the QR code scans correctly and takes visitors to the page you want.