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How to Make a QR Code in 7 Easy Steps

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How to Make a QR Code in 7 Easy Steps

Floors. Ceilings. Bathroom stall doors. These are just a few of the places you’ll find QR codes. In fact, they’ve become so ever-present that 45% of shoppers used marketing-related QR codes in 2021.

There’s no denying the popularity and convenience of the QR code. But, what exactly is it? Why is it so popular? How can you create one for your next marketing campaign?

Keep reading to learn the magic behind QR codes and how to create your own.

QR codes typically look like this:

QR Code Example

Not every QR code is shaped like a perfect square. Sometimes they have unique patterns, colors, and logos displayed inside. You’ll find them in non-digital spaces like direct mail, signage, billboards, and even TV shows where you can scan the code on the screen using your phone.

Both barcodes and QR codes can be scanned using a laser or a smartphone as long as the tool being used has the correct capabilities of reading vertical and horizontal data. Although most smartphones scan QR codes automatically, many won’t scan barcodes so easily — you’ll need a special app for that.

Does the rise of QR codes mean traditional barcodes are a thing of the past? Of course not. Traditional barcodes are still a common way for businesses to identify consumer packaged goods (CPGs) and manage their product inventory.

        Barcode example

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QR code example

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However, there are several differences between barcodes and QR codes — both in their uses and their characteristics. Below are three important differences.

QR Codes Are Shaped Differently

Barcodes are typically rectangular, which requires scanning devices to read the barcode’s data horizontally. QR codes are often square-shaped, displaying their data vertically and horizontally. 

QR Codes Hold Different Data

QR codes are often used differently than barcodes. Barcodes hold key product information at the point of sale, such as the price and name of the manufacturer. QR codes offer more passive and intangible information, such as location data and URLs to promotions and product landing pages.

QR Codes Hold More Data

Due to a QR code’s square shape, it can hold much more data compared to a barcode. QR codes can hold hundreds of times more encrypted characters than a barcode can.

We learned a little bit about how barcodes and QR codes differ, but how exactly do QR codes work?

Let’s say a consumer sees a QR code. They can take out their mobile device, download a free QR code scanning app, or simply use their phone’s camera, and scan the QR code to gain more information about what they saw.

If you wanted to create, say, a bus stop advertisement promoting your podcast, you could display a QR code on that printed ad that brings people right to your iTunes page when they scan it with their phones. Pretty simple, right?

 

The QR code creation process is pretty straightforward. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Choose the type of content you’re promoting.

First, you’ll need to choose your favorite QR code generator. If you need some ideas, check out our list. For this example, we’re going to use qr-code-generator.com.

Select what type of content you want your QR code to show the user after they scan it. You can choose from one of 10 content types, as shown in the screenshot below. 

We’re going to promote a URL that directs users to our podcast.

How to Create a QR Code: Step 1

Step 2: Enter your data in the form that appears.

Once you select the type of content you’re promoting with this QR code, a field or form will appear where you can enter the information that corresponds with your campaign.

If you want your QR code to save contact information, for example, you’ll see a set of fields where you can enter your email address, subject line, and associated message.

To save a link to our podcast, we’ll simply enter the URL in the field that appears, like so:

How to Create a QR Code: Step 2

Step 3: Consider downloading a dynamic QR code.

See the option below for “dynamic”? One significant pitfall to making a QR code is that you can’t edit the data it contains once you print it. But with dynamic QR codes, you can edit this data.

How to Create a QR Code: Step 3 Dynamic QR code generator

With a free membership to QR code generators like qr-code-generator.com, you can print a dynamic QR code, scan it, and pull up an editable form where you can modify the data your visitors will receive when they scan the QR code themselves.

Step 4. Customize your QR code.

The fun part of creating QR codes is customizing the design of the codes to fit your brand. Want your code to look like your logo? Go for it. Want it to reflect your website’s design scheme? No problem.

Using qr-code-generator.com, we can customize our QR code by clicking the button to the top-right, as shown in the screenshot below. Keep in mind not every QR code maker offers this design option — depending on the QR code you’re looking to generate, you might find some tools limited in their functionality.

How to Create a QR Code: Step 4 Customize your QR code with a logo

Of course, you can customize your QR code further — adjusting the colors, adding a logo, creating social options, and more. 

Keep in mind, however, that some customizations can make it more difficult for QR code scanning apps and smartphone cameras to properly read the code. To cover your bases, it’s a good idea to generate two versions of your QR code — one plain version and another with your preferred design. 

Speaking of this…

Step 5: Test the QR code to make sure it scans.

Don’t forget to check to see if the QR code reads correctly, and be sure to try more than one QR code reader. A good place to start is the free tool Google Goggles, which takes a picture and then tells you what link or item it “reads to.”

Another great free tool is the app QR Code Reader, which automatically takes you to whatever it “reads.” Most smartphones these days include a built-in QR code reader, so you should test to make sure your code is readable there, as well.

Step 6: Share and distribute the QR code.

A QR code won’t be able to do its job unless people see it. So make sure you come up with a distribution plan for sharing the code. This could include displaying it in print ads, on clothing, or in physical locations where people can take out their phones to scan it. 

Scroll down for more tips on properly displaying a QR code.

Step 7: Track and analyze performance.

Just like any marketing campaign, you should follow up on any collateral or campaigns using QR codes to see whether they’re actually working. How much traffic comes from each specific code? Are people scanning your code but not redeeming their offer once they get to the landing page? Or are they not even compelled enough to scan your QR code in the first place?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you troubleshoot and adjust poorly performing QR codes to more closely mirror those that work well.

I recommend you include a UTM tracking code on your URL so you can better measure performance— this is particularly important if you use closed-loop marketing analytics or if you perform more in-depth reporting on your campaigns.

How to Use QR Codes (And How Not to)

Now that you see how simple the QR code creation process can be, let’s talk about some best practices that’ll increase the likelihood that your QR code actually gets used.

Display your QR code where it’s convenient for people to scan.

Put QR codes in places where scanning them is easy and there’s enough time for the consumer to scan the code. While you may often see QR codes on billboards and TV commercials, they’re not exactly the most user-friendly locations. It’s a safety hazard to entice people to pull out their phones while driving to scan a code, and a 30-second commercial might not be enough time for someone to find their phone and scan the TV. 

Instead, think of places where consumers have the time and ability to scan the code. Places with a strong Wi-Fi connection will help, too.

Optimize the QR’s destination page for mobile devices.

Mobile-optimize the page to which you’re sending people. Consumers will be using their phones when scanning the QR code, so they should arrive at a page with a positive mobile experience.

Include a CTA that prompts people to scan your QR code.

Offer a call-to-action (CTA) with the code — that is to say, tell people what they’re supposed to do when they see the code, and what they’ll receive if they scan it. Not everyone knows exactly what a QR code is, and those that do won’t be motivated to scan it unless they’re sure there’s something worthwhile on the other side.

Don’t limit your QR code to one mobile scanner.

Don’t require a special QR code scanner. Your QR code should be app-agnostic so anyone can scan your code with any reader. A lower barrier to entry makes success more likely for you and the user.

Use your QR code to make someone’s life easier.

Don’t use a QR code just for the sake of using one. For instance, it’s common for marketers to think, “How can I bridge the offline experience with the online experience? Uhhh … QR code!” That’s not wrong, but it’s not always right, either.

If you have content that makes sense to deliver to a mobile user, and you have an appropriate channel to do it (see use #1 at the beginning of this section), it’s more likely your QR code will drive results.

Earlier, we showed you an example of how to create your own QR code, but you don’t have to create it from scratch. A QR code generator can speed up the process (and take a lot of math out of it, too.)

There are tons of QR code generators out there. The best ones give you many customizable options for using your QR code, and compatibility with just about all mobile QR code reader apps.

Other things to look for when choosing a QR code generator are whether you can track and analyze performance in real-time and design a code that’s unique to your brand.

Below are some of our favorite QR code generators that make custom QR codes quick and easy to create.

1. Kaywa

Best QR Code Generator: Kaywa

Kaywa is a simple, no-fuss QR code generator that creates basic codes for coupons, URLs, and contact information. Simply enter your information, choose whether you want a dynamic or static code, and generate it. 

Why we like it:

If you’re using your QR code as part of a marketing campaign, you can track analytics through Kaywa when you create an account. That way, you’ll have the latest data on who engaged with your code, where they engaged, and when.

2. GOQR.me

Best QR Code Generator: GOQR.me

GOQR.me is a simple QR code generator that works best with short URLs, but it can be used to store text, geolocation, and event data. Simply click on the icon that corresponds to your data and fill in the fields.

Why we like it:

You’ll get a live preview of your QR code in real-time which speeds things up if you’re adding finishing touches to your marketing campaign. For an additional fee, you can also have your logo added to your QR code by a GOQR.me-affiliated designer for a custom look.

3. Free QR Code Generator by Shopify

Best QR Code Generator: Free QR Code Generator by Shopify

QR codes work best when you have something to offer the people who scan them. And chances are, you’re probably selling to people who buy products online with their phones every day.

Why we like it:

Shopify makes it easy to create a QR code in just one click. The best part is that you don’t have to own a Shopify store to use this free tool.

4. Visualead

Best QR Code Generator: Visualead

Looking for a one-of-a-kind QR code that suits your brand to a “T”? Visualead is the tool we recommend for the job.

Why we like it:

Visual QR codes are popular and can generate more interest in your users than a typical black and white code can. That means you could see more scans and engagement on this type of QR code.

5. The-qrcode-generator.com

Best QR Code Generator: The-qrcode-generator.com

The-qrcode-generator.com features a simple UI that lets you create a unique QR code in minutes. Simply add your URL or the information you want to share and your QR code appears instantly.

Why we like it:

If you’re creating several QR codes at once, you might find it worthwhile to download the Google Chrome extension for a faster workflow.

6. QR Stuff

Best QR Code Generator: QR Stuff

As one of the more robust QR code generators, QR Stuff can create codes for just about any type of data you want to share with the world. YouTube videos, Zoom meeting invitations, and even bitcoin information are supported through this tool.

Why we like it:

In just three steps, you’ll have a free, customizable QR code that will function properly and look great. Plus, there’s no limit to the number of codes you can create.

7. Qr-code-generator.com

Best QR Code Generator: Qr-code-generator.com

We used this QR code generator in our how-to guide above, and for good reason. Qr-code-generator.com is a simple tool that’s user-friendly for even the least tech-savvy of us. Simply drop your link into the box, and let the generator do all the work.

Why we like it:

QR-code-generator.com is intuitive. It’ll automatically detect the type of URL you’ve added and produce a QR code in seconds.

8. QR Code Monkey

Best QR Code Generator: QR Code Monkey

If the way your QR code looks is important to you, but you don’t want to pay extra for a custom design, try QR Code Monkey. Once you add your URL, you can change the color, add a logo, and further customize the pixels in your code at no cost.

Why we like it:

With QR Code Monkey, the design possibilities are virtually limitless. All you need to create a branded QR code is a creative eye and a little patience. 

Create Your QR Code Today

Now it’s your turn! You’ve spent enough time scanning QR codes, why not make your own? Follow the steps in this article and use one of the free QR code generators we’ve recommended to put your business, project, or event out there in the real world.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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