By Ros Hodgekiss on 11th June 2012
The other week, Stig, our resident support superability, responded to a curly ticket in regards to whether it was possible to add a unique QR code for each recipient. After a little research on his part, the answer was a yes, using Google’s Chart Tools. I’d never heard of Chart Tools, but once I’d started playing, I realized that many of you may find it useful when sending invitations, coupons and other printable things.
Now, QR codes have a bit of a bad reputation. That’s because they’re often used in rather ridiculous ways. So initially, I was a bit skeptical about writing a post, but then I came to realize that they can also be used for good, too. We’ll look at some examples in a bit.
Google has done a lot of things to improve the lot of humankind and providing dynamically-generated graphics is one of these things. In the case of QR codes, they have a ‘Infographics’ service - simply append a root URL with parameters, place this final URL in an
<img> tag and voila! A static PNG will be returned to you. Here’s an example:
<img src="https://chart.googleapis.com/chart?chs=100x100&cht=qr&chl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.campaignmonitor.com%2Fblog" />
The Infographics docs include parameters for specifying dimensions and data. Note that the data passed (eg. http://yourpage.com) doesn’t have to be a URL, but does have to be URL-encoded - you can use a URL Encoder to do this.
Once you have this final URL, you can simply add it to your HTML email code. Or, if you want to make it unique and personally identifiable (say, for tracking referrals), you can append it with a template tag:
<img src="https://chart.googleapis.com/chart?chs=100x100&cht=qr&chl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.campaignmonitor.com%2Fblog%3Femail%3D[email]" />
[email] here, but you can use custom fields, instead.
Now we’re both QR code experts, lets look at some of their practical applications. First up, QR codes are near-useless on the web and in email clients, as links are by far preferable. But on printed messages, these codes are in their element. Some examples include:
Finally, I couldn’t wrap up this post without giving Australian artist Yiying Lu a hat-tip. Snapping the handpainted QR code in her artworks takes you through to this magnificent ‘making of’ video:
Do you, or your clients use QR codes in marketing campaigns? Are they a hassle to use, or hustlin’? Let us know in the comments below.
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