At the moment it seems QR codes are in use everywhere, whether it’s checking in at a restaurant so they can manage your contact details in the event of needing to trace you in relation to covid, as part of a window display in your local supermarket (Dunnes Stores near me have them) or as part of the covid pass that many of us are receiving. For many this appears to be something new, however, they’ve been around a very long time and are going through something of a surge in popularity again.
When I first started out in my own business my first business cards in 2011 had QR codes on them because at that point they appeared everywhere and were and still are a really convenient means of sharing information.
According to one report I’ve read, QR Codes have grown in popularity with a growth of over 20% in the US alone last year, not bad for a technology that in many ways had gone through a quieter period for many years since they were first introduced all the way back in 1994.
So, how might you use one in today’s world;
Track and trace – with businesses in the hospitality sector required to take customer data from all of their customers, a QR code on display at the entrance of a business is a simple and effective means of connecting a customer to a form on software such as Google Docs where they can leave their contact information on file if it’s ever needed. On a recent trip to Northern Ireland where hospitality is open this was the norm for just about every business we visited, in one instance the code connected you to the business website where they also encouraged you to subscribe to their database.
Menus – as we’re on the subject of hospitality, a QR code can make for a great menu that’s cost-effective, easily updated without needing to re-print, and in today’s world allows for an option that customers don’t have to handle either.
Product instructions – in a world where we’re all conscious of being more environmentally friendly and cost-conscious, a QR code can replace a booklet or leaflet that might ordinarily have been printed with customers scanning the code and being directed to a web page with all of the relevant information.
Ads – I mentioned above that my local Dunnes Stores has some QR codes on display in their window, you simply scan the code and you can easily sign-up for their loyalty programme. Tesco also had a similar promotion recently, in that instance they offered a significant reduction on certain products for Clubcard members and the QR code was right in front of you to encourage that sign-up as you shop. These are going to appear more frequently as part of ads when you’re out and about because you can direct people to videos, web pages, and the information you want them to see, and wonderful as URLs or URL-shorteners are people won’t often type anything longer than the business domain into their phone if they’re out and about.
Email marketing – your marketing database is a hugely valuable asset and we know that it’s generally more expensive and difficult to secure email addresses legally since legislation such as GDPR improved how a business processes customer data. In your place of business you can ask people to subscribe by scanning a code, they will, of course, need to follow through by accepting an email to verify it in their inbox but if you’ve just enjoyed a restaurant for example, and see that code that’s the ideal time to capture somebody who right then is thinking about coming back and would therefore be interested in your special offers.
Packaging – there are requirements for specific information such as ingredients and nutritional information to be detailed on the packaging but a QR code also offers an opportunity to share a whole lot more. If your product was something as commonplace as a packet of self-raising flour, for example, a code printed on the packaging might direct your customer to a whole lot of wonderful recipes that they can make using this flour.
Business cards – right now we’re probably exchanging a whole lot less than ever before but despite options being available through apps and the ability to simply share contact information by text, the traditional business card very much still has a place in the world and in our post-pandemic world when networking or trade fairs are back, we’ll all leave with a whole lot of them after each event. Generally, your business card will have contact information, as a web designer think how nice it would be to include a code that takes the person directly to your web portfolio so they instantly see your work instead of hearing you just say it. I personally had QR codes on my business cards around 2011-2013 but then removed them at one point while I was re-branding because at the time they actually seemed to have gone out of style – who knew they’d be back with a bang less than a decade later?!
Your social media accounts – the image just below is from my own Instagram (feel free to follow me!!), how much easier it is to share this than ask somebody to look up my account to follow me? This is provided by the Instagram app itself so as a user you don’t even need to spend time creating a code for yourself.
Testimonials – offer your customers the option to go straight to a site of your choice to post a review of their experience. There are options such as Trustpilot or Feefo that allow you to follow up with customers automatically but in many cases, you won’t have customer information and it’s quite often the case that people will leave a review for you while they’re still enjoying the high of their experience on the day so a link to Google might really be a boost in this area.
Special offers – encourage interaction with your business by displaying codes that take people to more information on a particular offer. If you were selling a smartphone for example you would, of course, have the printed brochure with all of the features and technical specifications. However, a QR code might take the customer to the manufacturer’s video which shows rather than tells them just why you need this phone.
QR codes are easy to generate with options available that are free to use, others allow for branding to be included or for more data to be collected, and what you choose depends on what your objective is.
They might have eased up a little for quite a number of years but they’re back and more popular than ever and with a little imagination can make an impact in your marketing.
If you’d like to learn more about marketing campaigns or how you might work with QR codes, get in contact with us by email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to arrange a complimentary consultation for you.
Debbie Ringwood is a Marketing Specialist with over 20 years of experience in B2B and B2C Marketing. She is a Graduate of the Marketing Institute of Ireland and the Digital Marketing Institute. She is a Linkedin Certified Marketing Insider, META Certified Community Manager, and Canva Champion.
Debbie supports, coaches, and trains businesses in Marketing, Social Media, Canva & WordPress along with her team, working with businesses at different stages of their journey.