QR codes aren’t new. In fact, they were first introduced in 1994 – and smartphones started having built-in QR code readers back in 2010. While these “quick response” codes were quite popular back in the day, you may wonder whether QR codes are still relevant.
The answer is yes! In fact, the desire to limit contact during the pandemic has brought QR code use back with a vengeance. With a quick scan of a QR code, your customers can learn everything about your products, leave you a Google review, make a payment, follow you on social media, or engage in a huge array of other tasks.
If you haven’t incorporated this mobile-first technology into your marketing plan, you’re missing out. But – it’s not too late! Here’s a quick look at the basics of QR codes and some creative ways to use them in your business.
How do QR codes work?
Let’s start at the beginning. QR codes are two-dimensional images that can be read with a smartphone’s QR code reader. To scan it, users just need to point their phone at the code and wait two to three seconds for a link or notification to pop up on their phone.
QR codes work in a manner similar to a barcode, but they can contain far more information (more than 7,000 characters) and can be read more than 10 times faster.
Static vs. dynamic QR codes
When dealing with QR codes, you’ll often hear the terms “static” and “dynamic.” A static code is hardcoded, so once it’s set up, it can’t be changed. These codes are perfect for sharing your email address, contact information, or anything else that remains static.
Dynamic codes work a bit differently. Instead of storing data, they redirect the scanner somewhere else. For example, your code may include a link to a webpage, event page, coupon, or PDF. One of the best things about dynamic codes is that you can change where they point without having to re-generate a new code. This makes them perfect for a variety of marketing campaigns.
Are QR codes still relevant?
While there had once been a buzz that QR codes were outdated or just not useful, the events of the past few years have shown that they’re actually a powerful tool. In the U.S., they’re now commonly used for making contactless payments and presenting menus.
Since most smartphones now automatically scan QR codes without the need to install a separate code reader, they’re also super easy to use. As the population starts to embrace the use of QR codes again, business owners and marketers should take full advantage of the opportunity to incorporate them into their marketing efforts.
Benefits of using QR codes
If you’re still not sure whether using QR codes is right for your business, take a look at some of these powerful benefits.
QR codes are very easy to use
You don’t need a large amount of technical knowledge or sophisticated hardware or software to set up a QR code. The user-friendly nature makes this technology available to all business owners.
You’ll have extensive customization options
While QR codes were traditionally simple black-and-white squares, today you can personalize them with customizations to catch a user’s eye while also aligning with your brand. For example, you can change the background color, make it round instead of square, and add your logo.
You can easily track your performance
Dynamic QR codes give you the ability to track information like the number of scans, the location where your code was scanned, and even the type of device it’s scanned with. This will help you track the performance of your campaigns and better understand your audience.
You’ll stand out from your competitors
Since QR codes are still making a comeback in the U.S., being one of the first to deploy them will help set you apart from your competitors. Use them to show your customers that you’re forward-thinking and are a leader in your industry.
8 ways to incorporate QR codes into your marketing
There are so many creative ways to use QR codes for your business. Here are a few ideas to consider.
1. Share a service menu
From restaurants to hair salons, many different types of businesses are using QR codes to provide their customers with contactless menus. Since everything is now online, you can also easily make changes to your products or pricing without having to worry about the cost and inconvenience of printing up new menus.
2. Offer discounts
People love to save money, so using a QR code to offer a coupon or discount is an excellent way to encourage purchases. You can also make your QR code do double-duty by directing it to a form or an email sign-up page so you can capture user information before delivering the coupon.
3. Encourage online reviews
It’s no secret that online reviews are important. Most business owners also know that getting customers to leave a review can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. You can increase the number of reviews you receive by using QR codes to conveniently direct customers to your review page. If you sell physical products, consider adding this QR code to your receipts.
4. Send users to a web page
QR codes are a great way to strategically send users to a specific website landing page. You can use this to provide them with additional product information, direct them to a “how-to” video, and more. Adding a QR code to your product packaging also allows you to enhance the overall user experience.
5. Turn window shopping into sales
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, add QR code stickers to your window displays. Using targeted calls-to-action, you can turn window shoppers into paying customers by allowing them to explore your products without ever setting foot in your door.
6. Host a giveaway
Generate a buzz for your business by hosting a fun giveaway and allowing users to enter by scanning your code. You can also double your marketing efforts by giving them the option to sign up for your newsletter during the registration process.
7. Encourage repeat business
QR codes are an excellent way to boost customer loyalty. If you sell a frequent-use product, consider adding a QR code for one-click reordering to your product packaging. You can also use QR codes to quickly and easily collect payment for items in your brick-and-mortar location.
If an item you sell is out of stock, adding a QR code to the display space can give users the option to provide their email address or phone number so you can let them know when it’s available again.
8. Grow your social media following
If you’re like most business owners, you’re always looking for ways to grow your social media following. Use a QR code to direct users right to your profile, so they can follow you with a simple click of a button.
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