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Since 2017, when scanning QR codes became a native feature for Apple and Android phones, QR codes have experienced a revolution. They are now being used everywhere, including traditional direct mail, experiential activations, out of home (OOH) and, of course, across the digital marketing hemisphere in a variety of ways. However, like all marketing tactics, QR codes need to be properly deployed and may not be the right choice for every marketing campaign.
QR Codes Can Enhance Proximity Marketing
Imagine this: a customer walks into a restaurant or retail store, scans a QR code displayed in a storefront and, suddenly, that customer has access to daily specials, coupons, sale items and available stock. This scenario is happening today. For example, the Nike Flagship store in New York City uses QR codes throughout, offering store rewards to Nike app holders. Naturally, there is also a QR code at the store to download the Nike app. For businesses that prefer geo-fencing or beacon-based contact, QR codes can deliver users to their apps creating opportunities for future contact.
Frictionless Purchases Are Easy With QR Codes
A quick tap of the phone to a QR reader is a common site at airports as mobile boarding passes grow in popularity, and, with the rise of seamless shopping, this interaction is also becoming more common for point-of-sale purchases. Point-of-sale QR purchases can happen app to app (many QR codes are contained in store apps like Walmart Pay) or by scanning a QR code on a shopper’s phone that contains their payment information. Whether this will be preferable to Apple Pay or similar options remains to be seen, but as users get more comfortable with QR codes, and more businesses incorporate QR codes into their business models, shoppers will likely see this payment option more often.
QR Codes Can Encourage Customer Engagement
QR codes can encourage customer engagement. Snapcodes and Nametags on Snapchat and Instagram, for example, create connections between users and provide promotional opportunities for brands. For the Gilmore Girls reboot, Netflix created a QR Snapcode that was printed on coffee cups available at 200 local Gilmore Girls pop-up cafes. The Gilmore Girls filter was viewed 800,000 times.
QR codes can also take a piece of direct mail and turn it into a digital ad campaign. A quick scan of a mailer can deliver users to a personalized landing page, donation page or promotional site, creating a connection between the brand and the consumer. That initial engagement can lead to future interactions, allowing brands to communicate their messaging to consumers who opt in. Additionally, the inherent tracking capabilities of QR codes allows marketers to easily measure the success of campaigns.
Weighing The Pros And Cons Of QR Codes
The pros of QR codes are obvious. Their agility, cross-platform function and efficiency make them a winner for tech-forward brands. However, there are drawbacks that need to be considered, namely that some people still think QR codes are clunky and dated. An article in Econsultancy said, “QR codes are still associated with slow scanning, inconvenience and poor user experience, and it may well be easier to build momentum around technology with a better reputation – like [Near Field Communication] NFC, or [augmented reality] AR.” Also, easy QR code readability isn’t the case for every phone around the world, which can hamper global campaigns. Best practices when applying QR codes to any campaign should apply, including understanding campaign objectives and target audiences.