QR codes can be found everywhere today – and the little squares have also become an established marketing tool. Here is where you can find out their potential applications for use, particularly for mobile marketing, and which examples of success serve as orientation for you.
What is a QR code?
A quick-response code, known by its abbreviation QR code, is a special two-dimensional version of a barcode. This code can be scanned by modern smartphone cameras, without requiring any additional apps. Normally, a link then appears which takes the user to additional information about a product or service.
The QR code was developed in Japan in the mid-1990s, originally for the manufacturing industry. Today, these square-shaped patterns have become a standard element – both online as well as on print media and posters. Around 45 per cent within the advertising-relevant target group worldwide uses or scans a QR code at least once a month, as the results of the Digital Global Review Report 2023 show.
QR codes are now easy and affordable to generate and can even feature customised designs – there are plenty of service providers who can be found online. Companies can also choose from special subscription offers. The fee-based version of ChatGPT offers users the chance via a plug-in to generate and download QR codes based on the submission of a simple text.
How to use QR codes for marketing
The potential of QR codes for mobile marketing was only discovered just a few years ago – and their added value is huge. Due to the limited space on nearly all advertising measures – from posters to digital screens to flyers – they can be easily shown, which is particularly important for B2B when products or services require more explanation.
The printing of such codes has also become established on product packaging. The code could contain, for instance, a link to the user manual. However, advertisers should keep in mind to print the codes only on surfaces which allow codes to be scanned – mirrored glass surfaces, for instance, are not suitable.
The big advantage: without having to type anything into their smartphone, interested consumers can go directly to the product after scanning the code and then clicking on the respective link, or get additional information about a product or service. Whether to a company website, a product page or a special landing page with additional links, photos, videos or deals – companies can choose where the link should lead to. Those responsible, however, should pay attention to making the respective content optimised for viewing via mobile devices.
QR codes in social media
QR codes have triumphed in social media too. For instance, companies have been able to share their profile on Instagram via a QR code for a while already. Now the platform is testing a feature with which single posts can be shared via such a code. Both functions are particularly handy for generating more traffic.
And when it comes to WhatsApp Business, companies have been able to generate QR codes for a few years now, through which potential customers or existing customers can directly and effortlessly start up a chat. During this chat, for instance, links to product catalogues can be shared. Such codes can be printed on product packaging, invoices or advertising material.
Best practices: these are the companies profiting from QR code marketing
Even if the field of QR code marketing is relatively new, various companies have already been able to record successes using it:
- The US fast food chain Chick-fil-A boosted the number of downloads of their mobile app by 14 per cent, by advertising the app with a QR code on digital screens.
- L’Oréal Paris launched a QR code campaign during the Covid pandemic mandates that allowed various cosmetic articles to be tested virtually before purchase. The promotion received raving reviews in social media.
- Back in 2010, Henkel added a QR code to each packaging of its Pattex adhesive brand – it explained which material is suitable for use with the respective product and what has to be kept in mind when using it. Pattex is considered a first-mover in this marketing segment.