QR codes have come a long way since their inception in 1994. What was previously used to track automatic parts inventory has become a strategic marketing tactic. These standard black and white barcodes can be used as custom brand designs.
The 2020 pandemic is credited with helping to re-use the QR code for marketing purposes. With a scan of a code, users can learn all about a product, make a payment, and even write a quick Yelp review.
What are QR Codes?
QR codes (Quick Response) was created to store a lot of data in a small 2D matrix barcode. In contrast to barcodes, however, QR codes can store much more information (more than 7,000 characters) and can be read more than ten times faster. The QR code was officially published in 1994 by two engineers at Denso Wave and was first used by the Japanese auto industry.
The other unique feature of a QR code is that its specifications were intentionally made publicly available. Because of this, the codes added to the ISO standard in 2000, and smartphone apps and cameras with the ability to read them, were easy to create and available to many people around the world.
When creating code, it is important to understand that the more information you code, the larger and more complex the code is. These codes are also permanent as long as the landing page or action is available. At the end of the consumer, however, all they need is a smartphone with a reader in the camera.
Are QR Codes Still Relevant for Business Marketing?
When QR codes are created and executed well, they can be incorporated into a marketing campaign or centered. They can also be used daily, for example for a payment option. There are two different types of QR codes: static and dynamic. As implied static codes are hard-coded after they are created and are best suited for tasks like sharing an email address or contact information.
Dynamic codes Do not save the data, but redirect the scanner, similar to when you share a link to a web page. However, they are not just limited to websites. Dynamic QR codes can also lead you to a coupon, event page, PDF and even SMS text creation. If necessary, you can change the content or type of dynamic code without regenerating new code. This makes dynamic codes the best for marketing campaigns.
According to a survey of US and UK customers in September 2020, 31.98% of respondents had scanned a QR code in the past week.
And when asked where they scanned the QR code, three locations stood out:
- 37.68% scanned in a restaurant, bar or café
- 37.27% scanned at a retailer
- 31.78% scanned a consumer product.
QR codes have recently been preferred and used by businesses due to their non-contact function of restricting contact between people.
Use of QR codes in marketing
There are many ways to incorporate QR codes into your marketing efforts. Here are just a few examples to get your brainstorming juices flowing.
Share your social media accounts
Many social media platforms offer you the option to customize the QR code of your account. When scanning, the person will be taken straight to your profile where they can click the button to follow you. These codes can also be printed out for personal use to bridge the gap between digital and retail locations.
Instagram’s QR code is available on your profile and can be customized: emoji, color and selfie. Each platform has its own view of the account’s QR code, often using branded colors and embellishing the design.
Another option is to create a landing page that links all of your social media accounts. With a single scan, the consumer can choose which accounts to follow.
Post a voucher
If there’s one thing everyone loves, it’s good business. QR codes can be distributed on social media, in a retail store aisle, or on flyers. After scanning the code, the consumer is directed to a voucher that is available online or in an app.
In this example, Target asks buyers to scan the code to activate the deal in their Target app account. As a buyer, you no longer have to cut out coupons or remember to bring them to the store. A coupon QR code is a great way to attract new customers or increase your brand loyalty.
Share a meal or service menu
The food service industry saw great success in 2020 and the owners got creative in how to navigate in a no-touch environment. Use a QR code to redirect guests to a webpage with all of your menu items instead of handing out paper or reusable menus.
In this example, the Hoptinger beer garden uses signage inside to link to the menus. And since the scan only leads to a web page, Hoptinger can update the page with new menu items without generating new codes.
Ask for ratings or feedback
Reviews are of paramount importance to many industries, but they can be difficult to obtain at times. One of the strategies for increasing the number of your reviews is to ask for reviews directly.
Encourage reviews by handing out cards like the ones above, posting them on signs on doors, tables or menus, or emailing them. The code takes the customer to the survey or review page to make it easier for them to leave their feedback.
Provide product information
There is only so much information that you can put on product packaging before it becomes cluttered. Use QR codes on product packaging to encourage customers to learn more about a product. You can link to anything from a promotional video to a quick guide for assembling the product.
Using QR codes in packaging like the ones above reduces potential paper waste and frees up space for other designs. When you get to a quick start guide, you can change the guide without reprinting thousands of updated brochures.
Do a giveaway
Giveaways not only excite people, they are also a good promotional gift. If you’re looking for a way to encourage giveaway participation, make it easy for people to join. In the past, freebies lived on a single platform like an Instagram contest or asked users to visit a URL to sign up. However, if you ask people to memorize a url, you are relying on memory. Scanning a QR code to go straight to the registration form is quick and easy.
In the example above, you can see how the QR codes were included in the packaging as a competitive option.
How to Track and Measure QR Code Success
Thanks to the free online QR code generators available immediately, it is easy to create your own QR code. Some services allow QR codes for basic data, while others block the features behind a pro plan. In the case of QR codes that refer to a website, you can track the clicks by generating a specific shortcode.
However, if you are serious about using QR codes in your multichannel marketing campaigns, your best bet is to invest in software that provides data beyond the number of scans. You can find out where the scanners are, what operating systems they are using, and scan by date. Similar to social media advertising, QR code data is tracked and displayed in real time, so you may have the opportunity to optimize campaigns as they run.
QR code summary and best practices
QR codes have seen a resurgence lately. They are easy to scan, the designs can be adjusted to be more visually appealing and are inherently a contactless technology. For businesses, it’s just as easy to incorporate QR codes into any part of the marketing funnel as it is to generate your own code.
When you start using QR codes for business marketing, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Add a call to action: Slamming code on anything by itself is not beneficial without context. What is the code for? Add a call to action near the code. It can be part of a frame surrounding the code or a simple line of text above it.
- Have a purpose: Just because you’re reading about QR codes doesn’t mean you have to use them. Make sure you are using codes to aid your marketing or to smooth some customer experiences, not because this is an emerging marketing trend.
- Integrate into a design: Let’s admit it: the basic black and white QR code square isn’t the most visually appealing design out there. Embellish it by inserting it into an existing design and adding your own branded pin to it. Again, note how Arsenault, in an example above, uses their brand’s navy color as the background for the QR code.
- Track the codes: Marketing campaigns are useless if you don’t have the data to ensure success. Check your codes regularly to see if the campaign is successful.
Would you like to integrate QR codes into your marketing but don’t know where to start? Try it out with your content. Check out the different types of social media content that you can create to incorporate and arm with QR codes for data.