Do QR Codes really work and how can I tell if they do?

Real Estate Agent with MacWin Consulting

You've seen them, maybe you know what they are and maybe you have no idea. In a recent poll, 58% of users said they weren't  familiar with them, so why should we care about using them? In the same way that websites, then MySpace URLs, and more recently Facebook pages started appearing in TV, magazine and newspapers ads, we're starting to see more QR codes appear in traditional advertisements. Start now and get ahead of your competition!

What is a QR code?

A QR code is a 2-D barcode that can be scanned by a smart phone's camera and transfer information. Based on the type of code it is, it might direct the viewer to a website, make a phone call, deliver a vCard or more.

Tracking QR Code Responses Using Google Analytics

If you have Google Analytics tracking set up on your website, using Google Analytics for tracking your QR Code visits will keep all of your data in one location, and allow you to track the online behaviors and conversion rates of your QR Code visitors.

Here’s how to set up QR Code tracking using Google Analytics:

  • With your new link in hand (or in your clipboard), it’s time to create your QR Code. Kaywa’s QR code generator is the simplest way to generate a QR code for a URL, text, phone number or SMS. Simply select your preference, enter the content, specify size and click “Generate.” Then, save the code to use elsewhere or grab the HTML to embed it online.

  • You now have a QR Code; download it and apply it to your direct mail piece, business card, billboard, t-shirt, or whatever else. When someone scans the code and visits your site, Google Analytics will track the visit and the associated source, medium and name.
  • After you’ve tested the QR Code,  go into Google Analytics and navigate to Traffic Sources > Campaigns. You can sort by “Medium” and search for “qrcode” to see your test visit (see below).

Tracking QR Codes using Google Analytics

Using for Creating and Tracking QR Code

If you aren’t using Google Analytics, don't know how to use Google Analytics or just need a simpler process, the url shortening application is another great tool for tracking web traffic it redirects to your QR Code landing pages.

Here’s how to create a trackable QR Code using

bitly QR Code
  • Create an account at
  • Insert the target url into their url shortener. You’ll get a shortened url that looks something like:
  • In your list of shortened urls, you’ll see the target url, with a link beside it for the “Info Page” for the url. Click on it, and you’ll see tracking information and a QR Code for the shortened url.
  • Right click on the QR Code image to save it; you’re now ready to use it on whatever marketing piece you’d like.
  • Now, whenever someone scans the generated QR Code, they’ll be directed to, which will count the visit and automatically redirect the visitor to the target url. This will happen fast enough that users won’t even notice the redirect.
  • You can then use the reporting tool on your account to track scans/visits via your QR Code QR QR Code
  • Here are a few ways that you can use QR codes to spruce up your small business marketing strategies.
  • On business cards: A fast and simple way to use QR codes for your own professional purposes is to place them on business cards. Generate a barcode that directs scanners to your online resume, small business Facebook Page or your website to help new contacts find you or your business faster.
  • On marketing materials: You’ve got fliers, brochures, programs, handouts, white papers and a myriad of other materials in your media kit. Add QR codes to direct viewers to a particular how-to video, send them to a Flickr photo set, get them to follow you on Twitter, or point them to a mobile-friendly landing page that promotes a new campaign. For inspiration, check out what the Detroid Red Wings did with QR codes in their arena programs.
  • In storefront windows: Google is sending out QR code window decals to top local businesses with Google Place Pages. If they don’t send you one, steal the idea and generate your own QR code to place in your window. You can use this code to encourage Fousquare checkins, point scanners to your Yelp profile, or simply invite customers to share memories in photo, video or text form via Stickybits.
  • For freebies: If you really want people to pay attention to your QR codes, make them good for something fun. Say you’ve placed a QR code decal in your storefront window, why not reward those who scan it with 10% off their purchase or a free pastry? Give them something small to thank them for their patronage. Simply create a custom QR code for the freebie you want to offer. You could even get creative and hide the QR code offers online, like on your Facebook page or website, or somewhere inside your store.

Things to Remember

  • If you’re going to use QR codes for small business marketing, you’ll want to keep in mind that QR codes — and the apps that scan them — are still foreign to most people.
  • Yes, more and more people are starting to associate the codes with action, but never assume your customers will know what to do. Make it a point to spell out how to scan the QR code, and help instruct customers on where they can grab scanner apps.
  • Also, remember that QR codes should provide some kind of value to the scanner. It may be easiest to direct QR code scanners to your website, but that’s likely not the most engaging place to send people. Instead of having the QR Code directed to just, try focusing the QR Code to one specific page within your site, one promotion/coupon or one service you offer.

Does your business or have you ever used QR Codes? Please take a moment to fill out the survey below and let us know:

Click here to take survey

Barbara Hensley
RE/MAX Properties - Rockwall, TX
Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas

Todd - good morning and thanks for putting out this excellent information.  Tracking is important in all phases of our business.  I am bookmarking to come back to later in the day when I have a little more time - also "suggesting" it as we all need this info.  Thanks.

Sep 15, 2011 02:13 AM
Brenda Mayette
Miranda Real Estate Group, Inc. - Glenville, NY
Getting results w/ knowledge & know-how!

Terrific information here, Todd! Thank you!! I'm with Barbara & will be returning to this piece when there's more time to effectively digest (& implement!!) it.

Sep 15, 2011 02:16 AM
James Loftis - West Palm Beach, FL

Interesting post, have been trying to learn more about QR codes and how to implement them into my marketing.

Sep 15, 2011 02:56 AM
Phil Hillerman
Crye-Leike Realtors® - Rogers, AR
Crye-Leike Realtors®

Hi Todd, I am bookmarking this post so I can go back and review.  Thank you for the information.

Sep 27, 2011 02:38 AM
Todd Bogert
MacWin Consulting - Goodyear, AZ

Thanks everyone, hope the information is useful. 

Oct 20, 2011 09:45 AM
Mike Dobbins
Realty ONE Group - Cave Creek, AZ
Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree

Thanks for the great info including the tracking info, was thinking of putting a campaign together involving QR codes and this will help to see if it works.

Dec 12, 2011 04:27 PM