QR Codes: More Than Just a Link to Your Homepage Make Them Work for You!

by Jen Keller • February 2, 2018

Quick Response (QR) Codes have been in use since the early 2000’s.  You have most likely seen them on virtually everything, from magazine ads, cereal boxes and menus to billboards, fliers, business cards and catalogs.  Some might think the time has passed for putting these codes on direct marketing pieces, but marketers can still benefit from using them.  You just have to be more creative on when and where to use them.  By 2013, the trend did indeed lose steam due to misuse, too many broken links and other issues.  It turns out, they were simply ahead of their time.  Now, with the rise of social media platforms and enhanced smartphone apps, which include QR code functionality, they have made a comeback.

In today’s digital society where we can’t seem to put down our smartphones, QR codes are a marketing tool you definitely want to test, if you haven’t already.  They are convenient, trackable and can be inexpensive.  You can track results based on scans, and there are free online programs that create basic codes for you.  Because they are trackable, QR codes on direct mail can help marketers obtain useful information from their campaigns.  The scans can give you a quick read on which promotions or creative are working best and/or which geographical areas are responding the most.  This knowledge will help you fine-tune your next mail campaign.

There are two types of QR Codes:

  • General QR – The barcode contains a general or static URL; the same code is printed on all marketing pieces. These would be best for magazine advertising and outdoor media.
  • Personalized QR – The barcode contains a Personalized URL (PURL) that is customized for each recipient in a mailing. A unique code is printed on each mail piece.  PURLs are great to use for repeat customers as you can personalize landing pages to fit the customer’s profile and pre-populate fields to allow quick and easy responses.  Saving the consumer time and offering them items they might be interested in based on their purchase history is a win-win.

For QR codes to be successful, marketers must be creative and ensure that the codes have value to the consumer.  There needs to be a reward for scanning the code.  For example, take them to a special feature on your mobile website like a demo or “how-to” video, a discount code or coupon, a contest, a recipe, a direct purchase option, etc.  Making sure the customer is directed to a mobile enabled site and including a benefit next to the QR code are also imperative.  In the end, providing true value will result in increased web traffic and a higher conversion rate.

The continued growth of mobile usage means more opportunities to use a QR code. A Smart Insights report states that of all world-wide internet users, 80% will access it from a smartphone. According to Printrobot, there was an 11% increase in the number of QR codes created from 2015 to 2016. And a 2015 Scanbury report showed 4.3 scans per person, up from 4.0 scans per person in 2014 or 7.5% growth.  The return of QR codes reflects how mobile marketing has become more sophisticated in the past few years.

Adding QR codes to your marketing campaign is a low-cost strategy with great potential.  It could help you acquire new customers, more business and more exposure.  If you haven’t tried them, put it on your to-do list!

Jennifer Keller, Senior Marketing Consultant