QR codes have been around for decades. In the 2010s, they were the “next big thing” – until they weren’t. But QR codes have made a big comeback during COVID. Adoption has also been helped by built-in support on the iOS and Android camera apps. Gone are the days when you needed to install a QR code app.
Most of us know QR codes as virtual tickets or maybe the new way to get a link to a restaurant’s menu. But did you know that you can start an SMS conversation with a QR code? They’re a great way to seamlessly onboard customers into an SMS campaign, WhatsApp conversation, phone call, or email thread.
If you’re coming to Media Shield and want to know how QR codes can be used in communications, this post is for you! You’ll learn about:
- How QR codes for SMS work
- How to generate QR codes for 4 different communication channels: SMS, WhatsApp, phone calls, and email
- How to bulk generate QR codes
Try it out!
Before we dive into how everything works, let’s try out an SMS QR code to see what all of this is about. You, dear reader, must now make a choice of colossal importance: do you want a photo of a dog?
Scan the QR code below and reply back with the SMS message that you’re given! It might take a few seconds for your reply to arrive.
Here’s what you’d see if you could get to your phone:
It’s a simple 3 step process: scan the code, send a prefilled text message, and get a custom response back.
How QR Codes for SMS Work
QR codes seem a bit magical, but when you get down to it they’re just a set of characters and words that your phone can read.
When we decode the QR code, it translates to this message:
SMSTO:+19105419977:Send me a picture of a dog!
This is already sort of readable, but let’s break this message down even further into its three parts (separated by colons):
- SMSTO tells our phone that this QR code is for the messaging app.
- +19175419977 is a phone number (in this case, this will be your Media Shield Phone Number)
- Send me a picture of a dog! is the message body that will pre-populate in the SMS app.
Opening that QR code brings us directly to our SMS app with a keyword pre-populated. That’s a major improvement over having to type out a 10-digit phone number and a keyword.
QR Codes for Other Channels
If we can make a QR code for SMS, what about other channels like WhatsApp, email, and phone calls? For those, we just encode a slightly different format for our instructions:
With SMS, email, and phone calls, we can use QR codes in all sorts of ways. For example:
- Retail stores could place a QR code next to a checkout station with an offer to get a coupon code in return for signing up for SMS updates.
- Realtors could put a QR code on listing signs and have interested buyers call or text.
- A local government could solicit input on public notice of construction signs by initiating an SMS survey with a QR code.
So many possibilities, but how do we actually make a QR code?
Creating an SMS QR Code on Media Shield
Now that we know how SMS QR codes work let’s take a look at how to generate one. Follow these steps:
1. Get a Media Shield Phone Number
Please follow this article link below on how to get your Media Shield Phone Number:
2. Generate an SMS QR Code
On your Media Shield sidebar navigation, go to QR Code Generator and then Enter your Media Shield Phone Number and the SMS Pre-filled message that you want to receive.
3. Download your SMS QR Code
Once you finalized generating your QR Code. You can click on Download SVG to download your QR Code, and you can now use it or put it anywhere you want.
Using Keywords and Auto-Responses
The neat thing about being able to specify a message keyword via a QR code is that we can use that keyword to determine how to respond. For example, you have scanned the QR code that opens a text message with the words “Send me a picture of a dog” pre-populated to send.
Using Media Shield Workflows, we could match that incoming SMS keyword and respond back with a picture of the dog and a message.
And here's how you can do that:
1. Create a Workflow
On your Media Shield dashboard, go to Automation > Workflow > Create workflow > and choose Start from scratch (learn more about workflows here)
2. Use Customer Replied Workflow Trigger
Add the Customer Replied workflow trigger with the Filters:
Exact match phrase: (put here the pre-filled message you receive from the QR code)
Reply Channel: SMS
In Phone Number: (select your Media Shield phone number that you used on the QR code)
3. Add Send SMS Action
Add the Send SMS workflow action that will send the picture of the dog.
3. Publish the Workflow
Once your SMS message is set. Switch the workflow to Publish and click Save.
And that's how create your own Media Shield SMS QR Code.