As the pandemic drags on, consumers are looking for contactless ways to get what they need or want. Businesses are responding, and receiving a great ROI.
The Rise and Fall and Rise of the QR Code
Quick Response (QR) codes were invented in the 1990s for use in factories, providing critical information to automated readers on the production line. Then advertising and marketing pros picked up on the idea, using a smartphone-scannable code that sent the user to a website or other information that couldn’t fit in the printed piece.
However, it was not a success. The problem was that the early QR code demanded too much effort from consumers. First, they had to read text explaining what the code is and does. Then they had to download a special app. After all that, they had to scan the code on their smartphone. “Quick” response? Nope — it was actually slower than typing in the website address or calling the number provided by the advertiser, when it was intended to be faster.
The technology has improved now, though, and is another big reason for the 2020 QR code revival. Nearly all Android and iOS phones can scan the code directly from built-in software; plus there’s increased public awareness about QR codes.
2 Keys to QR Code Success
Both “ends” of the transaction are equally important in converting a lead to a sale.
The “front” end is where the consumer sees the code in your marketing material.
• It should be placed where it will be easy to scan — away from the gutter in a catalog, not behind glass in an environmental display, not mailed to an area with no cell phone service.
• Don’t forget the explanatory caption and call-to-action; many people still don’t know what a QR code is or how to use it.
The “back” end is the content being delivered to QR code consumers.
• Make it a high value for the user — whether in entertainment or information. After the extra steps they took to get at it, they’ll expect no less.
• Make sure the content is mobile device friendly, because that’s the only place these users will see it. Yes, there are still business websites out there whose pages don’t display correctly on smartphones.
5 Marketing Ideas for QR Codes
• Send users to your website — the home page, a campaign-specific landing page, a product page or a contact request/ information collection page. This is the most popular use of QR codes in direct mail marketing.
• Deliver coupons and discounts — a fast-growing strategy for QR codes. There are various ways to set it up: taking users to your app which opens the coupon, or applying the discount code to their account on your website.
• Share social media — build a following and connect with new customers. The code opens the user’s platform app, such as LinkedIn or FaceBook, and goes to your page.
• Call, email or text you — the QR code brings up your phone number or email address on the user’s phone. You can also have the phone dial you automatically.
• Find your business on a map — great for local customers of brick-and-mortar stores. The QR code opens the phone’s GPS or mapping app and inputs your location.