QR codes are now everywhere; in restaurants, on product packaging, or at the cashier’s table for quick payment.
As a result, over 89 million smartphone users in the U.S. scanned a QR code from their mobile devices in 2022. This number is projected to hit 100 million by 2025. QR codes have exploded in popularity for consumers and marketers; they offer shoppers a convenient solution and allow businesses to track conversions and online activity.
In this article, we’ll learn more about QR codes and how the marketing industry can creatively use them.
What We’ll Cover:
- What are QR Codes?
- The Ongoing Growth of QR Codes in Digital Marketing
- 10 Innovative Ways to Use QR Codes in Marketing
- #2 Dial Your Business Number Directly
- #3 Initiate an Email or Text Message
- #4 Promote App Downloads
- #5 Direct Customers to Your Business Location
- #6 Connect Customers to Your Social Media Pages
- #7 Facilitate Shopping and Ecommerce
- #8 Share Personalized Gift Messages
- #9 Provide Discount Coupons and Special Offers
- #10 Deliver Augmented Reality Experiences
- Real-World Examples of Inventive QR Codes in Marketing Usage
- Tips for Successful QR Code Marketing
- QR Codes: A Creative Solution for Customer Needs
What are QR Codes?
A QR (Quick Response) code is a type of barcode that a person can scan through smartphone cameras. It consists of pixels arranged in a square grid to store information like links to a website, menu, social media profile, or songs.
They look like this:
For example, scanning a QR code on the event postcard can take a user to a landing page with a form to sign up for the event. With modern smartphones supporting native scanning of QR codes, people no longer have to download apps to access marketing content.
The Ongoing Growth of QR Codes in Digital Marketing
2023 has seen more businesses adopt dynamic QR codes in their marketing strategy.
Here are some reasons that have led to this growth:
- A large percentage of people now own smartphones making it easier to scan and utilize QR codes.
- Due to the pandemic, many people started looking for no-contact options like digital menus, marketing materials, and cashless payments. This trend has continued even today.
- Consumers are now more aware of how easy QR codes are to use.
At Postalytics, we observed this growth first-hand by seeing many businesses using QR codes in their direct marketing strategy.
10 Innovative Ways to Use QR Codes in Marketing
QR codes are a great way to provide your customers with the information they want quickly. Here are 10 creative marketing strategies for using QR codes in your marketing materials.
#1 Drive Customers to Your Website or Landing Page
QR codes are one of the most common ways to drive website traffic. When the customer scans your code, it takes them to your website or landing page, where they can complete an action.
By bringing your customers online, you can track their activity and even capture their information.
For example, scan the QR code on a food product’s packaging to arrive at a recipe landing page where you can store the visitor’s details.
#2 Dial Your Business Number Directly
Instead of making your customer search to find your contact details, you can place QR codes on your packaging or direct mail postcards. This way, they can call your team instantaneously for query resolution or to schedule an appointment.
Many businesses even use QR codes during events or conferences on their vCards. Here’s an example of how that looks.
#3 Initiate an Email or Text Message
We are living in the age of convenience. The more convenient you make an action for your customer, the higher the probability that the customer will fulfill that action.
By keeping QR codes that initiate an email or a text message, you let your shoppers easily reach out to you. Once the code is scanned, the required app opens on the smartphone with your email address or number already plugged in.
All the customer needs to do is type the message or query. You can include these QR codes on your website or direct mail pieces.
#4 Promote App Downloads
QR codes are a common way to increase app adoption amongst your customers. When users scan a code on a direct mail piece or product packaging, they are led to the app store on their phones, where they can click the “Download” button.
Many businesses like Instagram and Snapchat use in-app QR codes to help people engage with others in their community, promoting app usage.
Here’s how Canva promotes app downloads whenever users create a design through their web application.
#5 Direct Customers to Your Business Location
OR codes are a great way to bring customers to your storefronts or local offices. You can use QR codes to open your business listing on GPS and mapping software. When users scan QR codes, they arrive at the GPS or mapping software, where they can get directions to follow.
Directional QR codes are best used by businesses that target local customers, like retail stores, restaurants, salons, yoga centers, etc.
Here’s how you can create a Google Maps QR code.
#6 Connect Customers to Your Social Media Pages
Businesses need to be on different social platforms to meet their customers where they are and find new ways to engage them. By placing your QR codes on direct mail pieces and marketing material like posters or newsletters, you can connect them to a landing page with links to different social platforms.
If you are launching a campaign on one platform like LinkedIn, you can have the QR code take them directly to that platform. If they do not have that app installed, their browser will open to your page by default.
#7 Facilitate Shopping and Ecommerce
This strategy is one of the most popular ways of using QR codes for ecommerce brands. Some of Postalytics’ clients send product catalogs or personalized product suggestions through direct mail marketing to their premium customers.
These mailers generally include QR codes that lead these customers to the product page where they can complete a purchase. You can mark the effectiveness of these campaigns and increase sales in the process.
#8 Share Personalized Gift Messages
There’s huge competition among brands during the holiday season. Most customers flock online to buy gifts for their loved ones. If you want to find a unique way to beat the competition and engage your customers, QR codes are the way to go.
Here’s an example to get you inspired. JCPenney released “Santa Tags” during Christmas, which let the gift giver record a personalized message. Upon scanning that QR code, the receiver could play that same message.
#9 Provide Discount Coupons and Special Offers
The number of coupons redeemed using QR codes increased from 1.3 billion in 2017 to 5.3 billion in 2019. QR codes are a great way to reach shoppers interested in purchasing if they get a good deal.
There are two ways businesses use these codes for coupons:
- Take them to your app, which opens up a coupon,
- Apply a coupon code to their account when they enter your website.
#10 Deliver Augmented Reality Experiences
Many brands have started using augmented reality to help customers find the right product. With the help of AR QR codes, you can let customers see how they would look in a pair of jeans or how the glasses would suit their faces.
AR QR codes are more applicable to fashion and beauty product brands. You can place these codes on your website or beside the product in the retail store. Upon scanning, the camera app lets customers visualize how the product would look on them.
Real-World Examples of Inventive QR Codes in Marketing Usage
A well-timed and creatively executed QR code campaign can bring great results for your business. Here are some real-world examples to get you inspired.
Direct Mail QR Codes Boost Response Rates
Many people don’t take the desired action on your direct mail marketing campaign because they have to type long URLs or take the extra effort of dialing a number.
Synchrony Bank promoted a CD as a better way to save money with a guaranteed rate of return. Instead of providing the interest rate on the mail piece, they used a QR code to drive recipients to a landing page with updated response rates. This approach provided a better customer experience and helped them track online activity.
Ads for Apps: Creative QR Code Implementations
If you offer a mobile app, using QR codes to get people to download or use your app can be a great advertising strategy.
For example, look at this Angry Birds QR code ad.
Their QR code looks like a game, motivating people to scan and download the app. Because of its unique ad, it has been featured in several print media publications.
QR Codes for Payments: The PayPal Example
Can you make the technical process easier for customers? PayPal did that by installing QR codes that people can scan and initiate payments with other people and businesses on the platform.
This addition made the app easy to use, even for non-tech-savvy people. Many other payment companies then adopted this strategy.
Starbucks: Increasing Sales with QR Codes
Starbucks has used QR codes in a lot of its marketing campaigns. They began implementing them in their print and outdoor ads, connecting customers with discounts or promotions on their app.
They also introduced QR codes for cashless mobile payments back in 2016. It was a very forward-thinking move. Since they deal with people who skew toward younger ages, their QR code campaigns received a lot of success.
Quick Airport Check-In with British Airways
British Airways introduced QR codes printed on flight tickets to reduce check-in times for all their customers. Flyers could scan these codes and skip the check-in process if they had no bags needing checking in.
Their customers welcomed this move, and other airlines soon took inspiration.
Authenticating Clothes with Diesel
In the apparel industry, knockoffs have been a serious problem. When shopping at flea markets or aftermarket retail stores, you never know whether you will get something authentic or a convincing knockoff.
To counter this issue, Diesel started using QR codes to tell customers whether the product was authentic. By scanning this code, customers could know the authenticity and other product information.
IKEA: Increasing Checkout Speed with QR Codes
Have you ever waited at the cashing counter in a long line? Isn’t it a very frustrating experience? IKEA removed this inconvenience by launching a mobile checkout initiative using QR codes. Shoppers could scan the QR codes on different products and get the total amount.
Once the bill is paid, the receipt is generated in the app.
Tips for Successful QR Code Marketing
Setting up a QR code doesn’t take time with tools like Postalytics. But how do you ensure these QR codes are effective? Here are some best practices based on successful real-world examples and industry standards.
Create a Visually Appealing QR Code
Your QR code should draw the attention of your reader through visual appeal. Here are three best practices you can follow:
- Follow the “less is more” approach. Do not over-customize the QR code data pattern.
- Ensure the QR code pattern color is darker than the background color and not the other way around.
- Use colors that create enough contrast between the foreground color of your QR code and the background.
Add Your Logo and Call To Action (CTA)
Nobody would scan a QR code without a CTA. It’s like entering a door without knowing what is inside it. What does it lead to, and is it something the user wants to do? When you provide this information, you can convince a person to scan.
Adding a logo and CTA to your QR code makes it look professional, and readers know what they would gain by scanning the code. Instead of crowding the look of your direct mail piece or poster, keep your CTA brief yet meaningful.
Choose the Right Placement and Sizing
Choosing the right placement guarantees that viewers won’t miss your QR codes. For example, on advertising materials in windows, having it at eye-level height is the ideal scenario.
When it comes to sizing, it should be a minimum of 2cm X 2 cm for posters, flyers, and brochures. If you aim for a billboard, follow this formula – QR code scanning distance from the scanner divided by 10.
Print Your QR Code in the Highest Quality
While this point seems obvious, if your QR code is blurry, it can be a nightmare for scanning. To ensure a flawless scanning experience, use the proper image file format and the highest available quality. For print materials, choose vector formats like SVG to maintain image quality. For digital use, opt for raster formats like PNG.
Another great tip is to test it with a single print before printing it in bulk.
QR Codes: A Creative Solution for Customer Needs
Creating new marketing ideas to connect with customers is a challenge for businesses. But QR codes offer a unique way to engage your customers and make it convenient for them to take the desired action.
If you want to pair QR codes in your direct marketing campaigns, Postalytics offers an easy QR code generator tool to create these codes and lead them to personalized landing pages.
Try it out today!