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QR Codes Are Making A Comeback


So, here is the question …

Are QR Codes still relevant in 2018?

Ever since they were introduced in 1994, marketers and advertisers have had a love-hate relationship with QR Codes.

Supporters praise them as the best and most convenient way to increase conversion rates by bringing a potential customer to an online location (website, social media profile) immediately.

And even though they’re not that popular in the US (yet), QR Codes made up at least 1/3 of all mobile payments in China ($1.65 trillion of transactions) last year alone!

Did you know that the QR stands for Quick Response?

The biggest detractor to QR Codes has been the lack of a native app in mobile technology. So much for quick response right?!?

Things are changing however:

  • Apple quietly introduced a QR Reader in the IOS 11 camera app so you know the other platforms will follow shortly.
  • Blockchain technologies incorporate the use of QR Codes in their payment process. The technology is proving to be a great way to accept mobile payment in most popular cryptocurrencies.
  • Pinterest introduced its own take on QR Codes in 2017.  The “Pincode” brings mobile device users directly to products, boards or profiles on Pinterest.  When a mobile user comes across a Pincode, all they have to do is to open their camera app and hold it up to scan – they are then taken directly to individual boards or user profile.
  • Amazon recently used codes at its pop-up Xmas shop to link physical goods to its online store.  Can you say ka-ching!
  • Even social media platforms are incorporating QR Codes into their platforms.  Instagram has its “Nametag” codes on their mobile platform, Snapchat has “Snapcodes”, Twitter also has their QR Codes available via user account settings.
  • Facebook offers a QR Code option for pages ( including posters which you can use to promote your page). Page managers can choose a code that automatically likes the page on the user’s behalf, checks into your location, or connects to “View Offers”.
  • Finally, some of the biggest brands in the world are successfully using QR Codes in their marketing strategies – Coca-Cola, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Guinness for just a few.

What makes QR Codes effective?

Once a QR Code is “scanned” the encoded information will automatically trigger a range of actions.  Think of them as the “new” hyperlinks and bookmarks of the InterWeb.  Here are a few ways you can use them in your business:

  • Take your potential customer to sales page for a product/service.
  • Have them opt-in for your mailing list, webinar, or in-person event.
  • Link them to your contact, social media profile, or booking page.
  • Take them to a product usage page (instructions, contra-indications, nutritional information).
  • Connect them with your chat or support service.
  • Use them to download an app.
  • Link them to a Spotify or Podcast list.
  • Use them to deliver personalized message or exclusive video.
  • Link them to a discounted purchase.
  • At conferences, trade shows on banners, signage, name tags.
  • Are you a Real Estate Agent – use them to send out sell sheets.
  • And (as we have used them for clients recently) as part of a interactive online scavenger hunt.

What’s Next?

Used correctly, QR Codes can be an extremely effective tool to reach and sell to a growing number of smartphone users.  Used incorrectly, they a waste of time and money and are frustrating to potential customers.  To get the most from QR Codes in your marketing strategy, keep the following 3 tips in mind:

  • Keep it mobile-friendly.  Like everything else you design for mobile, ensure the content your QR Codes leads to is optimized for mobile phones in terms of design and copy.
  • Make it relevant.  Use a QR Code to lead to a single, highly targeted offer you have in place.  Think about your offer and whether a QR Code is the right way to market it.
  • Distribute it properly.  Consider carefully the promotional materials it can be found in, and the location they can be found at.  A good Wi-Fi connection and enough time to scan it is paramount.

Think the above are obvious – think again.  Check out these lists of QR fails for a good chuckle:

10 Funniest QR Code Fails (Mashable, 2012)
15 Of The Worst QR Code Fails Of All Time (Business Insider, 2013)

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