The Comeback of the QR Code

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QR codes – or Quick Response codes – have been around for well over a decade, but the now-familiar black squares really took off  late last year as a method for COVID contact tracing.

In 2020, thousands of small businesses across Australia rushed to set up and display the two-dimensional barcodes for customer check-in.  This caused some confusion for companies and patrons (as well as privacy concerns and problems with compliance), but you’re probably now well-accustomed to scanning these codes with your smartphone at businesses, shops and restaurants.

However, the power of QR codes goes way beyond COVID tracking and the planned hands-free purchasing. Now that customers are used to using them on a regular basis, companies are finding all kinds of ways to add them to their marketing plans. LinkedIn created QR codes for personal profiles a while ago – but it’s only recently I caught onto this (scan the code at the top of this article and you’ll be taken to my profile).

Let’s take a look at how you can add QR codes to your business marketing efforts, some creative ways that they’re being used, and some resources to help you create QR codes of your own.

How QR codes can be used in marketing

QR codes used in digital or print marketing campaigns can help you boost brand awareness and direct prospects to your website or special landing pages, social media platforms, apps or downloadable files including manuals or whitepapers. Plus, QR codes can help you measure the ROI of campaigns that might be otherwise hard to track.

You can use QR codes within print or online ads or in direct mail pieces like postcards or flyers or create a code that takes customers to a Google map that provides directions to your business. You can also use the codes to provide a direct route for customers to opt-in to your email or SMS marketing list or to your Facebook page.

Another option is to create a QR code sticker for a product that takes people to your website for warranty or nutrition information, user manuals or assembly instructions so you (and they) don’t have to print them.

Here are a few additional creative ways companies and industries are using QR codes to save time, gather customer leads, and provide prospects with more information:

  • Real estate: Agents are using QR codes to take interested buyers from a for-sale sign or listing to a virtual tour of the property, or to gather prospect information at property auctions and inspections.
  • Restaurants: Customers can scan QR codes to view the menu (saving on paper and printing), make a reservation, place orders and/or pay. Some have gone a step further, like the Vietnamese restaurant Roll’d to use a QR code in their make-at-home meal boxes that points customers to cooking demonstration videos (available in multiple languages, no less).
  • Vehicle rental: Vehicle share schemes, such as Lime and Jump use QR codes for their bikes and scooters. Users simply scan the code that’s on the vehicle with their smartphone, which then allows them to unlock, pay for, use and return the transportation method of their choice.

How to create a QR code of your own

If you’re wanting to create custom codes for marketing purposes that do a better job of showing off your brand, give you more file options or help track campaign results, there are a number of free and paid options available, including:

  • Beaconstac – offers both free and paid options and is praised by many for its ease of use
  • QR Code Generator – boasts a helpful website with plenty of straightforward tips and explanations
  • Scanova – offers only paid options, but allows you to create codes that are editable and trackable

Need help creating a QR code or incorporating the codes into your marketing for 2021 and beyond? Contact Breathe Marketing today.


Anna Nixon-Smith

All stories by: Anna Nixon-Smith