With the Covid-19 pandemic causing havoc around the world since the beginning of 2020, we’ve all become more familiar with using QR Codes. However, QR Codes were around long before the start of the pandemic.
Once believed to be a long-dead relic of the early 2000s, QR Codes have found a new life in the wake of the pandemic, kickstarting a touchless world. QR Codes are now replacing traditional paper menus, vouchers, business cards and offering a quick link to contactless payments and much more.
Scanning QR Codes on iPhone & Android don’t need an app
Invented 2 decades ago, QR Codes never became the revolutionary marketing strategy that businesses and marketers had hoped. But in 2017 the Apple iOS 11 update changed that. Apple’s stealth update that allows QR Codes to be scanned directly through the camera app is game-changing. Adding the QR Code feature on the control setting was pure genius. Even the latest Android smartphones have made QR Code scanning a native feature.
Android and Apple are continuously making updates to increase QR scanning capabilities in mobile devices. All the user needs to do is point their smartphone’s camera at the QR Code, and they’re taken to the destination link instantly. Simple & Easy!
Not only have QR Codes managed to overcome the hurdle of downloading an additional app but the average internet speed has also increased which allows consumers to scan QR Codes at lightning speed.
Are QR codes still relevant for business marketing?
When created and executed well, QR codes can be incorporated or centered in a marketing campaign. They can also be used daily, such as for a payment option. Two different kinds of QR codes exist: static and dynamic. As implied, static codes are hardcoded once they’re created and are best used for tasks like sharing a website link, email address or contact information.
Dynamic codes don’t store the data but instead redirect the scanner, much like when you share a link to a webpage. But they’re not limited to only webpages. Dynamic QR codes can also lead you to a coupon, event page, a PDF and even SMS text creation. If needed, you can change up the contents or type of dynamic code without regenerating a fresh code. This makes dynamic codes the best for marketing campaigns.
How to use QR codes in marketing
There are many ways to incorporate QR codes into your marketing efforts. Here are just a few to get your brainstorming juices flowing.
Share your social media accounts
Many social media platforms offer you the ability to customize your account’s QR code. When scanned, the person is led directly to your profile, where they can then hit the button to follow you. These codes can also be printed out to be used in-person to bridge the digital and retail location gap.
Snapchat and Facebook QR Codes have always been popular with their innovative and interactive QR Codes. Now, Instagram has joined the bandwagon too.
To generate your Instagram QR code, go to the settings menu on your profile and tap QR code. Instagram previously deployed a similar system called Nametags, which were internal QR-like codes that could only be scanned from the Instagram camera. It’s now deprecating the feature entirely.
Multiple other apps employ their own QR-like system, including Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Spotify. (Only Twitter supports actual QR codes.) But with the pandemic, it’s unsurprising to see Instagram embrace the more open QR system. Restaurants have begun leaving QR codes out instead of their physical menus, and other businesses request that people scan a QR code to load their website. While Nametags might have worked for this purpose, QR codes make it easier for people to scan and make them less reliant on taking out the Instagram camera to access information.
Users can now generate QR Codes that can be scanned from any smartphone. Users can also print their QR Codes to share so users can scan them to be directed to open their Instagram account easily.
Another option is to create a landing page where all of your social media accounts are linked. A single scan lets the consumer choose which accounts to follow.
Post a coupon
If there is one thing that everyone loves, it’s a good deal. QR codes can be posted on social media, on a poster in a retail shop or passed out in flyers. After scanning the code, the consumer is led to a coupon that’s available online or in an app.
Share a food or service menu
The restaurant industry took a huge hit in 2020/ 2021 and owners got creative on how to navigate a touchless environment. Instead of handing out paper or reusable menus, use a QR code to redirect diners to a webpage of all your menu items. In Australia, patrons need their smartphones to check-in to premises, so they’ll have them ready to scan a menu QR Code.
Ask for reviews or feedback
Reviews are of utmost importance for many industries but getting them can feel challenging at times. One of the strategies for increasing your review count is to outright ask for reviews. Encourage reviews by handing out cards like the one above, posting them on signage on doors, tables or menus, or sending them through email. The code takes the customer to the survey or review site to make it easier for them to leave their feedback.
Provide product information
There’s only so much information you can put onto a product package before it appears cluttered. Use QR codes on product packaging to encourage customers to learn more about a product. They can link to anything from a promotional video, further ingredients & nutritional details, to a quick start guide on how to assemble the product.
1/3rd of consumer decision-making is purely based on a product’s packaging. Creating packaging that is appealing is even harder when you factor in millennials that always steer towards aesthetically pleasing and minimalistic design. QR Codes are the answer to this struggle.
Using QR codes in packaging cuts down on potential paper waste and frees up space for other designs. In addition, if these take you to something like a quick start guide, you can change up the guide without having to reprint thousands of updated booklets.
Since GMO products in the US require QR Codes on the packaging that consumers can scan to learn more about the ingredients, it’s become a common practice to have QR Codes on all products (not just GMO). Why not give your potential customers more information at the point of sale to encourage them to buy your product?
QR Code designs can match your business brand
Gone are the days of black and white QR Codes. QR Codes can now be customized with logos, colors, and different shapes to attract consumers. This is very useful in that it allows consumers to know exactly what they’re scanning as well.
Businesses don’t need to keep swapping out QR Codes to display different offers either. Static QR Codes have given way to dynamic QR Codes which explains why QR Codes have been cropping up on digital billboards.
Benefits of using QR Codes for business marketing in 2021
1 Capable of storing large amounts of data
A QR Code is capable of storing up to 4,296 characters, making them a viable tool for various industry verticals. A QR Code can be used for inventory management, mobile marketing, product packaging, contact tracing, and even for print advertising.
A QR Code can be linked to an image, video, landing page and website for various purposes.
2 Easy to scan and use
With most smartphones having the ability to scan QR Codes without downloading a third-party application, anyone with a smartphone can scan a QR Code easily.
A QR Code when created in an appropriate size (minimum 2 cm x 2 cm), it can be scanned even from 3 feet away, making it easy to scan and use.
3 Cost effective
QR Codes are not as expensive as one might think. QR Codes are extremely cost-effective and the fact that they can be used for any purpose helps save a ton of money.
4 Easy to troubleshoot
Generating QR Codes does not require innate technical knowledge or surplus installation of hardware and software. All you need is an online QR Code generator, choose a QR Code type, and create a QR Code!
5 Highly customizable
A QR Code can be customized to any need for any use. Traditional black and white QR Codes are so passe. A QR Code can be customized to change its background color, eyes, template, and even add a logo to seize the customer’s attention and align with your brand.
How to track & measure QR code success
It’s easy to create your own custom QR code thanks to readily available, free online QR code generators. Some services allow for basic data QR codes while others lock the features behind a pro plan. For QR codes that link to a website, generating a specific shortcode will let you track the clicks.
But if you’re serious about using QR codes in your multichannel marketing campaigns, then it’s best to invest in software that provides data beyond the number of scans. You’ll be able to learn where the scanners are based, what operating systems they use and scans by date. Much like social media advertising, QR code data is tracked and displayed in real-time, offering you the chance to possibly tweak campaigns as they are run.
QR code recap & best practices
When you’re starting out on using QR codes for business marketing, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Add a call-to-action: Slapping a code by itself onto anything won’t be beneficial without context. What is the code for? Add a call-to-action near the code. It could be part of a border surrounding the code or a simple line of text above.
- Have a purpose: Just because you read about QR codes doesn’t mean you have to use them. Make sure that you’re using codes to aid in your marketing or to smooth out some customer experiences, not because it’s an emerging marketing trend.
- Incorporate into a design: Let’s admit it: the basic black-and-white QR code square is not the most visually appealing design out there. Dress it up by blending it into an existing design and adding your own brand spin to it. Again, notice how, in an example above, Arsenault uses their brand’s navy color as the background to their QR code.
- Track the codes: Marketing campaigns are useless if you don’t have the data to back up the success. Be sure to check in periodically on your codes to see if the campaign is successful.
QR Code Frequently Asked Questions
Do QR Codes expire?
Static QR Codes do not expire, but dynamic QR Codes do.
If the information linked to the QR Code is outdated, the website or landing page will not show the content, making the QR Code useless.
Dynamic QR Codes expire once the free trial period is over. If dynamic QR Codes are purchased, they do not expire.
Are QR Codes making a comeback in 2021?
QR Codes are in more places than one can anticipate such as movie tickets, plane tickets, official documents, social media channels (nametags and Snapcodes), and payment systems.
QR Codes were never out of the market to make a comeback, but they are having a rather powerful imprint on all kinds of businesses.
Do people use QR Codes?
The answer is yes.
Most smartphones come with a native QR Code scanner in their cameras. QR Codes are hugely popular amongst businesses and age groups of all kinds. Not just that, QR Codes are used to track campaigns, increase brand awareness, divulge a product’s detailed information, and use it to generate a high ROI.
Why are QR Codes more relevant in 2021?
A huge chunk of businesses and brands of all sizes are moving towards a technology-enabled market, QR Codes are more relevant than ever. The number of scans has been increasing marginally, thus turning everyone to QR Codes.
What is the future of QR Codes?
According to research by Juniper Research, the number of QR Code coupons scanned will reach 5.3 billion by 2022. The technology is anticipated to grow in multiple folds over the next couple of years. One of the key areas the QR Code technology will focus on is in-app usage and scanning ability. Other areas of growth are contactless payment systems, the transit and travel industry, healthcare, and marketing.
Do millennials use QR Codes?
Millennials, in fact, do use QR Codes. They use QR Codes a lot more than any other generation combined or individually.
Some of the ways millennials use QR Codes are –
- Facebook Messenger Codes and Market QR Codes
- Snapchat’s Snapcodes
- Instagram’s nametags
- Contactless Payment Systems – PayPal, Walmart, and Venmo
Will barcodes replace QR Codes?
No. Barcodes and QR Codes both have their own individuality. They are both used in different circumstances adhering to industry use-cases.
QR Codes are two-dimensional barcodes, which is an upgrade of a basic barcode. Although barcodes and QR Codes both store information, QR Codes have more advantages over barcodes –
- QR Code can hold any information within the square code. It can be used to link to a text, business card, multimedia, social media channels, and marketing campaigns.
- QR Code can hold up to 7,089 characters allowing it to be more versatile than a barcode.
- QR Codes resist damage.
Where can I generate my QR Code for my business?
There a plenty QR Code generators available – just Google it. There’s a lot of free options like https://www.qrcode-monkey.com/ but if you want to track the performance of your QR campaigns, you will need to pay a subscription fee. If you’re serious about doing your marketing correctly then you need to know how well it’s working.
Things to keep in mind with QR Codes for business
Not everyone has a QR Code reader (and some still don’t have a smart phone even) so still make sure there’s a more traditional option for those people as well.
Make sure your QR campaigns are well thought out and necesary, otherwise they may seem spammy.
If you need help or advice with your marketing campaigns, get in touch for a no-obligation free consultation.