Connect to Consumers with QR Codes

Despite their variable popularity among marketers over the past decade, QR codes are widely recognizable by consumers. That means that it’s never too late for you to incorporate QR into your marketing plan: Your customers can pick it up quickly, using a QR code generator.

That said, poor uses of QR can make your brand seem stale or your company seem out-of-touch. QR codes have evolved since their introduction to the world in 1994, so make sure that your marketing isn’t stuck in the ‘90s! For example, a QR code that drives people to your homepage from your print media simply isn’t worth the design real estate that it consumes. These days, your customers are looking for digital enchantments to their real-world experience — and that can be achieved by QR codes.

Let’s discuss what consumers are looking for, and how QR codes can tap into that. We’ll also go over the best practices for QR code design, marketing, and configuration, as well as some use cases you may want to consider.

Consumers want easy and convenient

The reason that QR codes initially failed to take off is that they required users to download a separate app to scan them. Consumers balked at having to install yet another app on a phone that likely didn’t have the space to accommodate it. They simply searched for a company, event, or product using their existing apps.

Thankfully, QR codes are now much easier to use. With careful use, they can provide convenience for consumers rather than a hindrance. Don’t make customers jump through hoops to get to whatever action you want them to take. Have QR codes be a natural, organic part of your materials. They should feel like they belong in their context. When done properly, QR codes won’t be nearly as obtrusive as they previously were.

The key is to make QR codes part of the customer journey: Give them something of value that guides them toward making a purchase or re-purchase. Sending your customers to a digital destination or resources that doesn’t mesh with how they encountered the code is off-putting and frustrating. Offering them something that enhances their customer experience is the best way to use QR codes.

Best Practices for QR Code Design

  1. Print them at a sufficient size that customers won’t have to struggle to scan them. If customers are going to be close to the printed code, e.g. when it appears on a product, business card, or flyer, the code can be printed small. If customers are going to be scanning from far away, the code should be printed at size that’s 1 foot for every 10 feet of scanning distance. (Most use cases won’t exceed a distance of 10 to 15 feet.)
  2. Don’t crowd QR codes with other design elements. Keep some blank space around them and avoid layering them over complex images.
  3. Avoid colored QR codes or QR codes with your logo embedded. Most consumers expect QR codes to be black and white.

Consumers want something they can’t get themselves

Remember, most consumers have pocket AIs that can help them access a whole world of information. They don’t need or want to open an app and search for something if they don’t have to. More than 60 percent of consumers aged 25 to 49 are using voice search to look up companies or brands they’re interested in. Nearly 50 percent of smart speaker owners use them for search. What does this mean for you?

Your customers are regularly using voice assistants and voice-based search. They’re increasingly accustomed to a seamless experience of ultra-convenience and relevancy. To get them to open their camera app to scan a QR code, you must offer something that they cannot get by asking Siri or Google, and you also must ensure that the thing you offer is relevant to their current situation.

As mentioned above, links to your homepage or online store aren’t always the best use of QR codes. Instead, tap into your customer’s “FOMO” — fear of missing out — by offering access to special discounts, exclusive content, or convenient resources. For example, coupon codes, free Wi-Fi networks, or videos are all excellent destinations for QR codes. In a moment, we’ll discuss some specific use cases you may want to consider.

Best Practices for QR Code Marketing

  1. Use QR codes to add to your materials rather than to duplicate information. If you’re printing your website URL on your flyer, you don’t need to add a QR code too. Choose one or the other.
  2. Use a QR code in situations where printing the information would detract from your messaging or design or be inconvenient for the consumer. For example, printing an unwieldy Etsy store URL on a business card would crowd the design and be challenging for a customer to type into their device.
  3. Configure your QR codes to go to a specific destination rather than something that consumers would easily find on their own.Landing pages or product pages are better than homepages. A specific video is better than a YouTube channel. And so on.

Consumers want to know what they’re getting

Never include a QR code on your materials without a clear, strong call-to-action (CTA). Tell the customer what will happen when they scan the code: Will they get a coupon? A video? An ingredients list? An Etsy page? A Wi-Fi connection? No one will scan a code out of sheer curiosity. Ensure that your codes are contextualized and tied to your CTA, and use action-oriented language to clearly identify the purpose of the code.

The exception to this rule is when you are deliberately concealing the destination to build intrigue. Perhaps you want customers to scan a QR code on a merchandising display to get the secret special of the week, or you include a code on product packaging for a mystery prize. These tactics can be effective in boosting scans. QR code generator.

Best Use Cases for QR Codes

With all this in mind, let’s examine some use cases that can optimize your QR-based marketing. Remember, consumers want their customer experience to be enhanced, convenient, and clear.

Supplemental information on product packaging

In 2020, new FDA regulations require enhanced nutrition information to be included on every package of food. The new dual-column layout takes up precious real estate on product packaging. QR codes provide consumers with easy access to product information for which there is now limited space on the packaging. As well, you can use QR codes to provide non-required nutrition facts, such as information about GMO or organic ingredients.

A key tactic for building trust in a company, which is increasingly important to consumers, is to disclose as much information as possible about the origins and creation of a product. To that end, QR codes can also lead customers to supplemental content, such as the story of how the product came to be.

Exclusive content and discounts

While most customers are tech-savvy enough to look up reviews, how-tos, or other resources on their own, you can guide the conversation by curating your own content via QR codes. There’s a lot of misinformation out there: Direct your customers to the video or blog that you want to be definitive for your product or brand. Bonus points if this is content that you created.

Customers also like to feel special and in-the-know. Tap into their FOMO by using QR codes to give them a coupon code, limited-access video, or members-only product link. You can leverage such codes on merchandising displays, product packaging, or print advertising materials.

Convenient registration, signup, and purchases

While it’s usually easy for consumers to locate your business’ website and social media, it can be challenging for them to actually complete a purchase. To best convert your leads into customers, use QR codes to direct them straight to the action you want them to take. You cannot rely upon people taking it upon themselves to go through the process. Today’s consumers prefer a seamless, streamlined purchase process.

For example, you can use a QR code on your poster or display to instantly direct customers to a payment portal or registration page. Bonus points if the portal’s form auto-fills the customer’s information from their phone. Remember, many consumers have their phones set up so that they can take quick action with a simple gesture and minimal input. Their customer experience with your business should be just as convenient.

A sample scenario for QR-based business

Imagine that you run a yoga studio. You offer regular classes as well as special workshops, you sell yoga mats and clothing both in-store and online, and you accept payments and class registrations through both your website and a Square reader in your office. You have some problems you want to solve:

  • Customers sometimes come into the studio and want to pay with an app, but you’re not set up to accept wireless payments.
  • Customers see yoga pants they like, but want a different color or size than what you have available in-store.
  • You regularly put out posters and flyers in new locations, but you’re not seeing an increase in new customers.
  • You have plenty of regular customers, but you’re having trouble getting them to register for the special workshops.

QR codes can help solve all these problems:

  • Post a QR code that links to your online payment portal so that app-paying customers can simply scan it and auto-fill their card information from their phone.
  • Post a QR code that links to a product page with more color/size options so that in-store customers can instantly find the specific product they want and make a purchase right there in your store. Tip: Have the item shipped to the store so that the customer can pick it up when they attend their next class.
  • Print QR codes on your posters and flyers that link to your class registration page rather than your homepage. Tip: Offer a 10% discount off their first class if they scan and register through the code.
  • Hand out cards to all of your regulars with QR codes that link to a promotional video for the special workshops.
  • You can also leverage QR to further grow your studio:
  • Give regular customers “membership cards” with a QR code that they can show a friend. When their friend scans the code, it will take them to a special referral link that gets both the member and their friend a small discount.
  • Offer enticing content accessible through QR codes. Have one of your instructors create a short how-to video with a CTA to register for classes, then publish it unlisted on YouTube. Create a QR code that links to this video, then print it on your handbills to generate interest in your studio.

QR Summary

As you see, QR codes go far beyond a basic use of simply directing people to your website. You can and should leverage QR to cultivate a specific, convenient experience for your customers at all stages of their journey: pre-purchase, during purchase, and post-purchase. QR also offers solutions for the problems created by the conflict between the limitations of the physical world and the interests of consumers who are increasingly digital.

Remember: link your QR codes to specific destinations, match them to your context, and make them easy to scan. Think outside the box to find ways to meet consumer needs and enhance their experience. You can also use QR to plug the gaps between the physical and digital realms.


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