QR codes are best known to consumers as pixelated squares attached to billboards, magazine ads, commercials, posters, product packaging and countless marketing materials seen every day. Technically, these pixelated squares are two-dimensional barcodes and give businesses the ability to measure the effectiveness of their offline marketing campaigns.
However, in the past one year, many digital marketing experts have proclaimed QR or ‘quick read’ codes to be dead because they are anything but quick with a major chunk of QR campaigns providing bad user experience and low engagement. Nevertheless, QR codes can still prove to be an effective marketing tool, when used right, acting as a bridge between the offline and online world.
Here are five reasons why you cannot write QR codes off completely and what you can learn from businesses that are using QR codes effectively:
1. Easy access:
Until early last year, smartphone and tablet owners needed to download a QR reader app making it more difficult for consumers to interact with QR codes. With Google Now, QR readers come standard on all Android smartphones making it easier for consumers to scan QR codes.
Image Source: Kissmetrics
This creatively done advertisement showcases images taken using Instagram and lets users download the app by scanning the code.
2. Deeper relationship with customers:
QR codes allow businesses to provide consumers with a deeper look into their products or services. Restaurants, food providers and grocery stores can do this by placing a QR code on their menu or conveniently next to a product in-store. A great example is Harney’s Sushi. In an attempt to make it’s customers feel safe, they unveiled edible QR codes.
Image Source: Forbes
Made out of rice paper with water-based ink, these QR codes provide customers with details such as origins of the fish they are eating along with details on the species’ global stock etc., helping customers connect with the brand and feel cared for.
3. Bridge online and offline media:
Throughout the sales cycle, companies interact with consumers both via online and offline media. From discovery to the first point of sale, businesses need to provide seamless access to products, services and support online and offline. QR codes help bridge this gap.
In 2011, Tesco’s South Korean supermarket chain ‘Home plus’ created virtual stores at subway stations with OOH advertisements designed as aisles in a supermarket. Each product had a corresponding QR code and consumers shop as they wait for a train by scanning these codes and adding products to their cart. Consumers could pay for their groceries on their smartphone and wait for home delivery from Tesco. This strategy proved successful with their online sales increasing by 130% in 3 months.
Image Source: Marketing Mag
Retail giants such as Best Buy, Walmart continue to invest in QR codes, a good example being Walmart’s Virtual toy store set up in Toronto’s underground walkway – PATH, during the holiday season. Commuters could scan the code of the toy they are interested in and shop from their smartphones beating the holiday rush.
4. Real-time information:
QR codes can be used to give consumers access to real-time information which can prove to be very useful. Metro West Yorkshire in England has introduced these quick read codes at various bus stops providing commuters with bus service information.
Another example of using QR codes to increase sales was E-mart’s Sunny Sale campaign. E-mart, Tesco’s main competitor in South Korea, created 3D shadow QR codes that could be scanned only during lunch hours. Consumers could avail these offers in real-time and this helped increase their sales during lunch hours by 25%.
5. Invoke user’s curiosity
More and more brands are learning to put QR codes to clever use in their campaigns. Restaurant chain Denny’s introduced Hobbit-themed placemats with QR codes that led customers to watch exclusive videos, and mobile games about the movie. Overall, the codes received 400,000 scans.
Image Source: Mobile Commerce Daily
The possibilities of using QR codes effectively in your marketing campaigns are endless. However, the success of your campaign depends on your target market and how cleverly you integrate these codes into your campaign. At the end of the day, all that matters is that these QR codes should add value to your campaign and intrigue your customer.