Read on for a step-by-step breakdown of how you can track your QR Codes within Google Analytics.
Last Updated:  November 29, 2021
If you’re reading this, you probably already know that QR Codes are a simple and efficient physical-to-digital gateway.
But you may have wondered: can engagement be tracked as soon as your audience enters the digital world through QR Codes? And can you gather important data about end-user demographics like gender, age, language preference, interests, and so on?
Beaconstac’s in-house analytics gives you a real-time overview of how your QR Codes are performing. We provide metrics like total scans, device type, location, unique visitors, and scans by specific date or time of day.
While these certainly help you tease out actionable insights, you might want to zero in on your end-users. Or perhaps better understand how they interact with your content once they land on your page or website. Say you’re using Google Analytics to do this, and you want to add QR Codes as a source bringing in web traffic.
How would you go about setting up QR Code tracking in Google Analytics? We have prepared a detailed step-by-step guide to help you do just this.
Before we dive in, let’s take a look at some misconceptions about QR Code tracking and privacy, and get them out of the way first.
As mentioned before, QR Codes are a ‘Phygital’ highway to bring your audience from the physical to the digital world. Users can pull out their smartphone cameras and scan them natively without a third-party app.
Being able to track/sort the codes you’ve deployed based on scans, location, and engagement will then be incredibly useful. With QR Code tracking data, you can tweak and fine-tune your campaigns on the go.
This is all that QR Code ‘tracking’ entails. Data is collected at the point of scan in addition to when users interact with encoded QR Code content. These include metrics like scans per QR Code, location, device used to scan the codes, date and time, and so on.
Is QR Code tracking secure and non-invasive when it comes to privacy? Yes, absolutely.
This is a misconception that a lot of users unfamiliar with the technology have. Tracking simply means that you can see how your QR Codes are performing with relevant indicators. Information gathered pertains only to scans and engagement levels — it does not mean that you can live-track the end-user who scans your code!
Free QR Code generators online simply create static codes — which means that none of them are trackable. Also, with static QR Codes, you lose the flexibility to print once and update the embedded content later on.
Dynamic QR Codes, on the other hand, are trackable. You can measure how your QR Codes are doing, zero in on attribution, and iterate campaigns on the fly.
How does QR Code tracking in Google Analytics work?
There are two ways to track your QR Codes within Google Analytics:
1. Generate UTM links with the Campaign URL Builder tool and create a QR Code for each link
Whilst this is a work-around, it can be extremely tedious! You’d have to create URLs with UTM parameters every time you wish to deploy a QR Code. Keeping a record of each unique UTM link can become highly inconvenient.
Moreover, this method would also result in fractional loss of data.
When UTMs are recorded on Google Analytics, it only takes into consideration the users who’ve successfully visited the landing page.
15-25% of users (based on our cohesive data) typically drop off after scanning a QR Code. This is because the prompt upon scanning does not align with their interest or expectation.
As a business, however, you still want to understand the drop-off, know the users that didn’t follow through, and zero in on their interests.
This is where the second way of pushing QR Code campaign data into Google Analytics comes in.
2. Add QR Codes directly as a unique property (first-party data source on Google Analytics)
This is exactly what paid QR Code solutions like Beaconstac help you do. You simply add QR Codes as a data source bringing in traffic to your website — everything else works just the same. It makes things convenient and hassle-free, and you can attribute traffic to each QR Code that you have created.
And, as discussed above, this isn’t like the UTM URL method where there’s a data black box for users who scan but do not complete the QR Code phygital journey. If they don’t continue through to the QR Code page/content, UTMs cannot collect any info about them. This is unfavorable because QR Code scans are a good marker of user intent.
Beaconstac’s integration with Google Analytics allows you to collect information all the way from the point of the scan to the website visit. In a data-driven marketing world, this can be extremely beneficial!
Our product roadmap also focuses on helping businesses understand what the user does on the destination URL — the buttons they interact with, the pages they visit thereafter, and more.
QR Code tracking in Google Analytics helps you understand end-users better
When you connect your QR Codes to Google Analytics as a source of web traffic, you can understand the following:
Gauge interests of the user who has scanned your QR Code
Discern returning users from first-time visitors
Clearly understand the level of engagement with your QR Code content with metrics like duration of the session, click-through rates, bounce rates, page views, and so on.
Native language spoken by users
Country of residence
Age of users
Gender of user
The system used to scan the QR Code:
Operating system used
Mobile used to scan the QR Code:
Operating system used
Phone screen resolution
Let us now look at the two QR Code tracking methods in Google Analytics more closely — (1) generating UTM URL QR Codes, or (2) integrating GA with a paid QR Code solution.
How can I generate UTM URLs for QR Codes in Google Analytics?
Open Google’s Campaign URL Builder tool and enter your campaign details. Define all the UTM parameters (source, medium, ID, name, content, etc) that you wish to track for your QR Code campaign.
Connect the UTM URL with the QR Code(s) that you plan to deploy.
Go to Google Analytics —> Acquisition —> Campaigns —> All Campaigns, and test-check if tracking data is being collected.
The process is fairly simple. However, you would find it cumbersome to do this at scale. If you’re deploying QR Codes in the thousands for a marketing campaign, you’d have to generate UTM links for each one of those codes!
In addition to generating UTM links for each QR Code, keeping a record of all the unique UTM URL-QR Code pairs can be extremely difficult too.
Let’s see what Google’s Campaign URL Builder tool looks like:
Campaign details that you would have to enter would include:
Website URL: URL of domain/page that you wish to link to.
Campaign ID: You can give your QR Code Campaign an ID — like ‘OfferDiscount_345’.
Campaign Source: Where the traffic to the above URL is coming from — in this case, it will be a QR Code or set of QR Codes.
Campaign Medium: Where you have deployed your QR Codes specifically: product packaging, banners, vouchers, and so on.
Campaign Name: What you have named your specific QR Code campaign to be. You also have the option to put your campaign ID here.
Campaign Terms: The specific keywords/terms you’ve included in your campaign.
Campaign Content: What the specific content of your QR Code campaign is. It could be CTAs, promotional material, discount vouchers, etc.
Here’s how it’s going to look once you fill in all the fields:
After this, you can copy the UTM link and add it as the page that the QR Code directs to. You have the option to shorten the link too:
Now, follow step (4) to test-scan and see if tracking data is being gathered in the ‘All Campaigns’ (under Acquisitions —> Campaigns) tab on Google Analytics.
This is what the process looks like for setting up QR Code tracking within Google Analytics through UTM links. Again, remember that this can be quite a hassle if you wish to track a lot of QR Codes.
How to add QR Codes directly as a property on Google Analytics (Beaconstac’s GA integration helps you do this)
Create a new property for tracking your QR Codes. You can do this by going to Admin —> Account (select account to which you want to add new property) —> Create Property.
Enter your company website. In the Website URL field, enter the specific URL you will be using for your QR Code campaign.
Copy the Tracking ID and enter it into your Beaconstac account. Go to Beaconstac —> Account —> Organizations and enter the ID in the GA Code field. You will automatically start seeing QR Code campaign metrics on your Google Analytics dashboard!
Here’s what the entire process will look like:
Step 1: Go to your Google Analytics dashboard and select the account to which you want to add the property.
Step 2: Create new property.
Step 3: To enable tracking for ALL your QR Code campaign landing pages, change http:// to https:// and type the URL path in the Website URL field. For example, type in qrcodes.pro/ or qr.tapnscan.me/ for Beaconstac users without the custom domain feature and qr.yourcompanyname/ for those who have it. Note that you are not entering the complete URL — this is for enabling tracking for all your QR Codes at once within Google Analytics.
On the other hand, for tracking just a single QR Code, you must enter the entire URL like https://qrcodes.pro/xyz without the custom domain feature or https://qr.yourcompanyname/campaignxyz in case you have the custom domain/URL functionality.
Step 4: Copy the GA tracking ID.
Step 5: Go to Accounts on the Beaconstac dashboard.
Step 6: Scroll further down to organizations, enter the GA tracking ID and click Save.
Step 7: You will now see your QR Code campaign tracking metrics like this:
That’s it — you have now linked your QR Codes with Google Analytics — the easy and hassle-free way! You no longer have to create unique UTM links for each QR Code that you print. You also have the ability to gather data throughout the QR Code phygital journey.
With Beaconstac’s Google Analytics integration, you can easily analyze your QR Code campaign performance from the dashboard itself. Now that you’ve integrated first-party data from QR Codes directly, you can derive useful insights about engagement and end-user demographics.
We hope that this was a useful guide for you to set up QR Code tracking within the Google Analytics platform. If you think a Google Analytics integration can be a valuable addition to your QR Code marketing toolkit, please schedule a demo with us.