Build Your List With QR Codes

You know those times when you’re at the gym or a restaurant or a trade show, talking with someone who’s interested in your business? And you ask if they’d like to get your email newsletter, and they say yes?

Alas, no computer is at hand, so you give them your card or write down their email address. But then they forget to sign up. Or (horrors!) you forget. Or you remember, but still have to take care of getting them onto the list.

Or, you could skip all the hassle with a smartphone solution that gets them signed up in seconds (and yes, you can do this without a smartphone yourself).

How QR Codes Work

A QR (quick response) code is essentially a barcode with spots instead of the traditional bars. When scanned with a smartphone, it causes the phone to load data. If the data’s a URL, that web page opens on the phone.

This means that if you have the right QR code handy, your conversation buddy can scan it and be taken straight to a web form to sign up to your list.

For Example uses QR codes in their app gallery. Users can point their phones at the screen, scan a code and instantly download the app.

DroidPhoneFiles Example

Detroit Red WingsThe Detroit Red Wings, a national hockey team, includes QR codes in the programs passed out for each game. They even created an instructional video to show fans what they’re for.

Detroit Red Wings Example

Tissot Swiss WatchesNASCAR driver Danica Patrick is sponsored by Tissot Swiss Watches, but rather than sporting a traditional ad, she’s driving with their QR code on her hood.

Tissot Swiss Watches Example

Getting Your Own Code

1. Create a digital sign up form, if you don’t have one already. (Here’s how to make one in AWeber). You can put it on your own site or if you have an email service provider, they may host it for you.

If they do, use the URL for the hosted page. Your form will be the only thing there, so there will be nothing to distract from the signup.

2. Using the URL for the sign up page, generate your code at a site like, or use this bookmarklet.

3. Get your code out there!

How to Distribute It

Yes, you can share your code as an image on the web. But on a computer, it’s easier to just click a link than to scan the image with a phone. So you’re better off printing your code and keeping it on hand for cases like those conversations mentioned above.

But the best part about your QR code is that just as it’s not tethered to the computer, it’s not tethered to you, either. Print your code on items you can easily pass out. Bring them with you to industry events, conferences, fairs and festivals.

When people scan and subscribe, give them the item as a thank-you. As they carry it around, everyone who sees it will have the opportunity to sign up.

For items that will attract notice and aren’t too expensive to produce, try:

  • buttons
  • stickers
  • pins
  • temporary tattoos
  • postcards

Where Would You Put Your QR Code?

Have you ever used a QR code to promote your business? How did you launch it into circulation?

Would you use a QR code to attract subscribers to your email campaign? Why or why not?

And what other ways could you get your code out there?

QR-Reading Apps

For iPhone:



 width=For Android:

Barcode Scanner

For Blackberry:



For Palm: