It’s 2011, and QR codes are popping up on advertisements — whether it’s on TV, on posters or in transit, they’re everywhere. In these early days, QR codes had plenty of promise. From promoting giveaways, payments or website hits, they let you quickly and easily deliver more information about your product or service to your customers. But it wasn’t the big bang we all thought it would be. Coupled with slower internet speeds (4G who?) and resistance to downloading third-party apps just for scanning a code — the QR’s heyday was, initially, short lived.
That was until 2020 happened and the little black and white codes made a very big comeback. When the pandemic hit, restaurants changed their paper menus to digital ones, accessible via QR codes, and also offered ‘check-in’ for contact tracing by scanning the codes. Today, we have access to fast internet, our phone cameras are equipped with QR code scanners, and with Covid, anything you have to physically touch is a risk – one which QR codes can help eliminate. So, were QR codes initially just in the wrong place at the wrong time? And how can marketing land capitalise on their reemergence? Let’s find out.
Some numbers for QR codes
Even though QR codes might have had a shaky start, it would be a big mistake to think they’ve had no tangible impact. Before we dive into the nitty gritties of QR codes, here are some stats that prove their comeback is very real…
- In Germany, according to GWI data for Q4 2020, 46.8% have used or scanned a QR code on mobile and 14.8% have used a QR code provided by a company or brand.
- Generally speaking, QR code usage is prevalent across all age groups between 16-54. However, from the age of 55, QR code usage decreases.
- According to a Statista survey, in the US an estimated 11 million households were forecast to have scanned QR codes in 2020.
- A survey conducted in June 2021 revealed that 45 percent of shoppers from the US said they have used marketing-related QR codes in the first half of 2021. This share was highest for the age group 18-28 years.
- Data from Statista also shows that 59 % of shoppers believe that QR codes would become a permanent part of using their smartphones in the future.
Benefits of QR codes in marketing
Let’s be real — there’s only so much information that can be packed into a TVC, print ad or OOH placement without losing a customer’s interest. QR codes allow you to share all essential information about your brand without taking up any extra space. Whether it was Burger King’s epic stint at the VMA’s or McDonald’s contactless dine-in experience during Covid, marketers are revisiting QR codes in a new light. Here are some other benefits of adding QR codes to your campaigns:
Real time tracking – at low cost
QR code technology allows you to measure the total number of users coming from your campaign in real-time and at very low cost. Using QR codes is extremely cost-effective, since the technology is free for anyone to use.
Bridging the gap between offline and online
QR codes offer the potential to sync your offline and online channels. By simply adding a code to your OOH or print ads, you can direct the consumer to your website or a special landing page dedicated to your campaign. When used right, QR codes can maximise exposure, increase revenue and drive traffic and engagement to your website or social media.
Curious ones will scan away
According to a recent study, QR codes appeal to the curious ones most of all. The ones with curious minds are more likely to ignore a run-of-the-mill ad, but if there’s a QR code they will scan for more information. A cryptic looking code appeals to an innate sense of curiosity and adds an element of mystery, but in the best possible way. You can capitalise on this sense of curiosity by offering extra benefits for scanning the code. For example, you could offer extra recipe ideas when users scan a code for a food-related product or service. This little extra freebie can help drive loyalty among your very appreciative consumers.
QR codes keep things fresh and up-to-date
QR codes usually direct buyers to online marketing material and websites. Therefore, updating the images, information and any additional details is easy and can be done any time – even after the campaign launch. As long as the code itself is printed correctly on your print and OOH ads, everything else can be updated as you go, adding an extra element of flexibility to your campaigns.
How to use QR codes in your next marketing campaign
Firstly, define clear goals and expectations for what the QR codes can do — whether its driving new users to the website or increasing your social media community, outline what you’d wish to see. Next, pick the content and channels that you’d like to share with your customers via your QR code. And lastly, keep track of every campaign to see what’s working or what’s not.
With the basics in order, here are some additional options to explore with QR codes in marketing campaigns:
- Use QR codes as your virtual or digital business cards to share contact information like your phone number, website and email address
- To get a better understanding of your business, QR codes can redirect customers to reviews or feedback forms for your products and services
- For garnering more hits on the websites or getting new users to an e-shop, use the codes to share incentives, discounts or coupon codes. For tracking these, creating custom landing pages is always a good idea!
- Enhance the offline store experience by offering contactless payments, auto connect to WiFi or sharing store locations using Google Maps
- To generate following and building a social community, QR codes can be used to redirect customers to your brand’s social media channels
- Boost and measure your influencer marketing campaigns with a QR code specific to each campaign, to track conversions on your website and e-shop.
Learn more about adding innovative elements like QR codes to your marketing campaigns: firstname.lastname@example.org