Do you recall how several years ago quick response (QR) codes were on everything? You know what I’m talking about: those square black and white symbols that you could scan using your Blackberry smartphone to learn more about a product? Then they kind of “died” and marketers moved on! That’s how it seems to go with many overhyped trends and technologies.
But this marketing trend is coming back. Let’s take a quick look at why we’re seeing QR codes pop up again then dive into ways you can leverage them for your brand.
Apple installed an active QR code reader in the camera app of its newest phones. That’s right, the latest smartphones have QR code functionality built into their cameras*. You no longer have to download a clunky app and struggle with getting the QR code aligned just right.
From Snapchat to LinkedIn, QR codes are being leveraged on social. Companies such as Target and Amazon Go are using QR codes to make purchasing more convenient and others are using codes as a way to help users automatically follow them on social.
Big brands are keen to harness QR codes as a technique for engaging and converting consumers. As we know, brand experiences are changing and consumers are more and more mobile-centric. Some companies use QR codes to direct users to a microsite or landing page that then has a call to action or offers an immersive experience. A few years ago, for example, Porsche created an interactive experience where people at an expo had the opportunity to customize a car and interact with the model. Scanning a QR code led users to a dedicated microsite, which focused on the personalized vehicle and an “intelligent car configurator.”
It doesn’t have to be that complex of course! Other brands are testing QR codes as a way to help users download promotions, visit a contest microsite, or view a calendar. Any marketer can potentially utilize a QR code by simply directing users to a custom URL.
So what are the implications of QR codes for your brand? How might they help consumers transition from a traditional, physical element into the digital world?
Well, QR codes are encrypted icons that containt links, coupons, event details, and any other information people might be keen to take with them.
Because they have large storage capacity, QR codes have the ability to translate additional information to consumers beyond what creatives or packaging can convey.
Because they’re typically square in shape, QR codes can hold much more data than a barcode. And so they’re used differently. Barcodes often hold key product information, like price and manufacturer. QR codes tend to offer details such as location and URLs to promotions and product landing pages. You can find them on direct mailers, billboards, signs, and even TV commercials.
Maybe you’re in the e-commerce indsutry and you want to create a unique QR code so consumers can scan a coupon or promo to redeem online. I’d wager that’s not a bad idea as, according to Juniper Research, QR coupons redeemed via a mobile device will reach 5.3 billion by 2022.
Maybe you’ve invested in a bus stop ad that promotes your podcast. On that traditional printed ad, you might add a QR code that will bring people directly to your iTunes page (or wherever you stream your podcast.) Similarly, a company could direct people to an app download page. QR codes can even help read and monitor data for newsletters and email marketing. I’m sure you see how there’s lot of opportunities here!
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QR codes offer utility, potential, and are becoming central to mobile marketing strategies. Do you plan on using them in the coming year for any marketing campaigns?
*For those of us without the latest smartphone, there are plenty of free scanning apps out there that will allow you to scan QR codes.
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