QR codes rose to fame in the early 2000s, but their popularity soon plummeted. Now, as we emerge into a post-COVID-19 Australia, QR codes may be the way of the future.
The use of QR code marketing during COVID-19 has allowed businesses to make quick changes to their menus, services and information in general, without the big cost of re-doing menus, brochures, etc. It’s also allowed them to market their products and services without physical contact with paper or people.
In this guide, you’ll be shown exactly how you can use QR codes to expand your marketing efforts very simply and affordably.
What are QR codes?
A QR code, less commonly known as a quick response code, is exactly what it sounds like; a code which when scanned, links the user to a web-based destination. Codes can be scanned by almost any smartphone via the inbuilt camera app.
The code works by using a combination of spacing as a type of 2D barcode, also known as a matrix barcode, allowing the QR code to hold large amounts of information. You can easily generate a QR code for free using an online QR code generator. Simply enter the URL you want to direct people to when they scan the code, click create and add the code to your marketing materials.
The History of QR Codes
Derived from the common barcode, the first QR code was created in 1994. It was designed by Denso Wave, a Toyota subsidiary, in an attempt to streamline the manufacturing processes. The code was used to track vehicles and parts during the production process. It wasn’t until 2002, in Japan, when QR codes became commonplace following the addition of QR code reader software to smartphones.
Since then, QR codes have been widely used throughout the world, commonly found on e-tickets for concerts and airlines. However, the past decade has seen a decline in popularity; in fact in 2012, 97% of consumers were uneducated on QR codes.
The decline in popularity has mostly been attributed to the incorrect use of QR codes by their developers. Often, the codes were placed in areas with little to no reception, such as underground train stations, causing the link to be unsuccessful. Furthering on this, many codes linked to websites which were not optimised for mobile, tarnishing the consumer’s perception of the QR code altogether.
Now, in 2020, with the rising popularity of non-contact options for traditionally shared resources, such as menus, the QR code is tipped to make a comeback.
How QR Codes Work
- The QR code is created by inputting the desired end-destination URL into a QR code generator.
- Once generated, the QR can be digitally placed or printed on anywhere with a flat surface.
- When a user sees your QR code, they simply pull out their phone and scan the code with their camera or QR reader app.
- The user will then be taken to the URL, whether it’s a menu, website, services list, booking form or anything else.
3 Top Ways to Use QR Code Marketing
Since COVID-19 began impacting Australian businesses in early 2020, they have had to find new ways to adapt to the changing consumer landscape. Most communal items, such as menus, must now be sanitised or replaced between uses, sometimes equating to a large cost for small businesses. QR codes are increasingly presenting as the solution to this.
Knowing most consumers carry their mobile devices everywhere, cafés and restaurants have begun taking their menus online, using QR codes to link guests directly to the menu via their phones. Using single page websites or landing pages to display their menus allows businesses to minimise the change of transmission between communal physical menus. Businesses can also easily update their menus items, prices and details with limited outlay and labour, something which is not possible with physical table menus
2. Creating a new metric for traditional advertising.
QR codes bridge the gap between traditional and digital marketing, allowing them to work together. Previously with traditional marketing methods, such as billboards and flyers, success was difficult to gauge. With digital marketing this is not the case, with most lead-generating activities able to be successfully tracked back to their subsequent marketing initiatives.
QR codes are a game changer. They bring the digital element to traditional marketing efforts. With a simple addition of a QR code to a poster or other collateral, linking to an appropriate landing page or simple contact information allows you to measure success.
3. Business cards
QR codes are a great addition to the modern business card. Swapping business cards at networking events is standard practice for those in the corporate sector, but how do you make your card stand out from the rest? A QR code may be the answer.
Especially in the creative industries, it’s very important to stand out from the crowd and a QR code will help you do that. Adding a QR code doesn’t mean redesigning your whole card, as the codes are able to be read even at the size of a 5cent coin, so they should slot nicely into your current design.
But what should your QR code link to? This is up to you. Depending on your industry, the website you link to will differ. For example, those creative industries may link to an e-portfolio, others may find linking to their LinkedIn profile more beneficial. If you’re a sole trader or small business, linking directly to a landing page or your website may be best practice.
Frequently Asked Question About QR Codes
How do you scan a QR code?
Scanning a QR code is simple if you’re a smartphone user. Simply open up your camera app, point the camera at the QR code, ensure the whole code in the frame and tap on it. From here, you should be prompted to open a web page or app via a dropdown notification.
Do you need an app to scan a QR code?
Most smartphones manufactured after 2017 have a built-in QR code reader in the camera app. However, if your phone does not have this feature, there are many apps available on the App Store or Google Play Store.
What does QR codes stand for?
The ‘QR’ in QR code stands for quick response.
Can we run out of QR codes?
No, the amount of combinations possible is unlikely to ever be reached.