How to use QR codes 

Published by Yannick Schneider

There is an ever-broadening range of exciting technological innovations which are increasingly being used as marketing tools across a range of platforms and mediums.  One such innovation being used by creative marketing campaigns are QR codes. They allow for interactive and immersive user experiences that can help build brand loyalty, convey information, differentiate a brand from its competitors and foster greater brand loyalty. 
What exactly are they and how are they used as part of marketing?  Here we’ll take a look at QR codes, what they are, how they work and what they can add to a marketing campaign. 

What are QR codes?

QR codes have spread rapidly over the past few years. They’re used in a wide variety of different contexts and are increasingly seen in marketing. They can be used as a tool for data gathering and are often used as part of public health programmes.  
The codes were originally invented in Japan, and can now be seen on direct mail, magazine advertising, billboards and in stores.  Even though they’re becoming increasingly ubiquitous, 
there is little understanding of what they are and why they’re so revolutionary.  
QR is an abbreviation of Quick Response, which should give you an indication of how the codes were conceived to operate. They are two-dimensional barcodes that can point you to an online destination such as a link to access a download or a website. They are essential hyperlinks in image form and they act as a bridge between the physical and digital worlds.  
To interact with a QR code, all you have to do is point your phone camera at the QR code image. Your phone or tablet or other devices will then act as a scanner.  The use of QR codes was more limited prior to 2017 because of limitations with the technology. To use a QR Code with your mobile phone back then, you needed to download a special QR scanning app and then use that app to access the QR content. 
Since 2017, both Android and Apple operating systems have developed to support native QR code scanning within the camera app without the need for any additional software. This means that nearly everyone with a phone can instantly scan a QR code, access content, sign up or share their details.  
Because QR codes can be scanned by such relatively small devices and do not require more substantial scanners or other complicated technology, they’ve rapidly become an ideal option for sharing information.  

What happens when you scan a QR code?

QR codes may share similarities with the humble barcode but they provide much more information than a standard product barcode can. They’re able to contain considerably more data, and this might include URL links, geographic coordinates or maps, text, video or images. They require very little effort on behalf of the consumer to access the content and other information that they contain  QR Code use is growing rapidly 
Mass adoption of smartphones with native QR scanners and increasing consumer awareness of how to use QRs have added to their growth and expansion. The Covid-19 pandemic has facilitated this growing awareness and familiarity with their use. People are now used to scanning QR codes when entering shops and other venues. Digital tickets that use QR codes are replacing paper versions and can regularly be found on public transport. QR codes are becoming more visible, more used and are now an integrated part of everyday life.  
It’s their potential to encourage engagement and their increased normalisation which makes them such a powerful tool when it comes to marketing products and services.

Why use QR codes in marketing?

Marketers are incorporating QR codes into all aspects of their marketing strategy because they recognise its potential to bridge the gap between offline and digital marketing. It provides an 
active and dynamic link between both that can foster creative synergy, deepen the user experience and encourage engagement.  
QR codes are being used in a variety of different ways as marketers respond creatively to the possibilities of the technology. Primarily, businesses use QR codes to help move prospects further through the sales funnel, giving them access to the information they want quickly and easily.  

Here are some of the popular ways in which QR codes are being used in marketing:

Driving website traffic

The most straightforward and common use of QR codes in marketing is to drive traffic to your website. This can easily be done by incorporating the code into direct mail. When a customer scans the code on your mailer they will then be directed to your website, or to a landing page that corresponds with the direct mail campaign.  
This is an effective way to move people along your sales funnel. Ideally, you should then be able to collect more helpful information from them and deepen their engagement with your brand. It might send them to your homepage, a particular product or promotion page or a sign-up page, for instance.

Automatically contact your business 

An increasingly popular way to use QR codes in your marketing is by enabling them to connect customers directly to your business support team. They can make an instant call, send a text, access an online messaging feature, or perhaps enable them to send you an email.  
Customers value this level of easy accessibility and it can help to foster brand loyalty. The QR code can be added to direct mail postcards with your contact details or as part of your product packaging. It makes contacting your business simple and straightforward.

Download your app

Another common use of QR codes is by linking them to a company app. When the QR code is scanned, the consumer will immediately be taken to the appropriate place on their app store where they’ll then be able to download your app. The QR code can assist in deepening engagement with your brand by encouraging users to take the next step with your app. 
When the QR code is scanned, your app store will open and take you directly to the correct app page on the store, where the user can choose to download the app and go through the traditional installation process.  
Companies will sometimes use the app-linked QR code on product packaging or in a direct mail campaign. It helps to form a bridge between the mail or packaging and regular digital engagement through an app. It can be a great way in which to grow the channels of engagement with your audience. You can also use QR codes within your app, providing links to new product lines, special offers, sign-ups, and other company news.

Find your business

A QR code can be used on a flyer, direct mail, poster, or newspaper advert that opens up the location of the business. It can be linked to GPS and mapping software and can then provide directions from the user’s current location to the business location. This can be a great means by which to get more physical visitors to your brick-and-mortar store.   

Share social media pages

Social media channels now play a key role in helping businesses communicate their marketing message, attract customers and build brand loyalty. QR codes are an excellent way to encourage people to like and share your social media content. You might want to connect a QR code on packaging or a physical piece of marketing content to a specific social media channel, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter.  If the user has the app for the particular social media platform, scanning the QR code will immediately open up the app and take them to the page that you’re sharing. If they don’t have the app installed then the link will take them to the internet browser. 

Discounts, coupons, and special offers

Everyone loves a bargain, and QR codes work well with discounts, coupon codes, and other special offers. Billions of coupons across the globe are now accessed every year via QR codes. There are several different ways that it can be done. The QR code can take them to your app, which then opens up a coupon for them. Alternatively, it can apply a coupon card to their account on the company website.  
Easy to access coupons, discounts, and special offers can be a powerful way to encourage potential customers to take advantage of the offer and make a purchase. 

Direct mail QR codes can boost response rates

QR code use in direct mail is growing exponentially and they’ve been shown to radically increase the effectiveness of a campaign. They make it easier for customers to respond, helping to reduce friction.  
Many people don’t want to type URLs, make phone calls or use a search engine. People who were only casually interested in the content of your direct mail can become more interested through accessing a QR code.  

Global brands are embracing QR codes

A mark of just how effective QR codes are is their widespread adoption by some of the world’s leading brands. British Airways now make use of QR codes to make checking-in easier. Paypal uses QR cards to facilitate payments. Diesel uses QR codes to authenticate their products and to cut down on counterfeit goods. IKEA has increased the speed at which people can make their way through checkouts. That’s just the tip of a growing iceberg.

QR codes are the solution to a range of customer problems

With ingenuity, QR codes can be used to solve a wide range of different customer problems.  They help to inspire your customers to take action and can improve their overall experience of your brand in the process. Used creatively, QR codes can help to deepen brand engagement, foster loyalty, and generate excitement about your products. The possibilities for their use are growing daily as they bridge the gap between different forms of marketing and product engagement.  

Appetite Creative can help your brand deliver

At Appetite Creative, we connect brands to their audiences in innovative, technology-led ways that inspire and engage. We can help your brand incorporate QR codes in creative and meaningful ways that seek to address customer problems.  
We have expertise across a variety of ad formats, connected packaging, and digital advertising campaigns. We design, create and deliver quickly so you can enjoy the results faster than you might have imagined. 
Working with global brands, we are experts in offering innovative and creative solutions for platforms, websites, and advertising across all devices and screens. Contact us today to find out more about how we can add meaningful innovation to your marketing. 


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