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Unlocking Possibilities: The Impact of QR Codes on Modern Marketing

What do you know about a QR code, the little white and black square you see everywhere today? This basic pattern has a powerful ability to link physical and digital worlds. QR codes are digital barcodes that store tons of information. With almost 5 billion smartphone users in the world, you can only imagine how many times QR codes are scanned daily!

However, QR codes’ potential is much bigger than pure data storage. They enable businesses to create immersive experiences, drive customer interactions, and provide instant access to information or services. With the widespread adoption of smartphones, QR codes become a powerful marketing tool. Let’s explore how exactly they change modern marketing.

When and how QR codes appeared

It may seem that QR codes have been with us for a while! However, Quick Response codes were invented only in 1994 by a Japanese automotive company called Denso Wave. They were used to track vehicle parts during manufacturing processes. QR codes are associated with barcodes, but they store much more information and can be instantly scanned. You just need a smartphone equipped with a built-in camera or a special QR scanning app.

At first, QR codes were not widely spread; however, the 2020 pandemic gave them another birth. The need for touch-free solutions literally propelled QR code technology. Today, QR codes are practically everywhere—they are found on product packaging, advertisements, tickets, business cards, and more.  QR codes and branding can be a powerful combination. By placing a logo in the center of a QR code, businesses can create a stronger connection with potential customers. The company logo design instantly identifies the brand and builds trust, encouraging people to scan the code. This bridge between the physical and digital worlds allows for easy access to a company’s website, social media, or special offers, all while reinforcing brand recognition.

Diverse applications of QR codes in marketing

QR technology has reshaped digital marketing, and its impact will only keep expanding. As technology around us advances and consumers become increasingly tech-savvy, QR codes can be used for building groundbreaking marketing strategies. Here are a few examples.

  • The power of augmented reality. When you see an ad, it is enough to scan a QR code and see a 3D product model come to life on your smartphone screen. AR technology allows you to merge the real world with the virtual in just a click. Incorporate QR codes into your marketing materials to allow your users to enjoy interactive product demonstrations, virtual try-ons, or even games related to your brand. This creates a more immersive and engaging experience for your audience.
  • Geo-location targeting. QR codes with geo-location technology enable businesses to guide users to nearby locations. Geo-targeted QR codes sync with smartphones’ GPS to deliver location-specific content. Use this approach to promote local stores, highlight nearby places of interest, or offer targeted discounts to customers within a specific reach. Such a personalized approach makes marketing campaigns more relevant and impactful.
  • Social media engagement. QR codes already help businesses connect with customers via social media platforms, and the possibilities are limitless. Use QR codes to automate social media sharing of your promotional content. It works like this: a user scans a QR code on a product package and instantly posts a picture to their Instagram story with a branded hashtag. This encourages user-generated content and fuels viral marketing campaigns.
  • A new level of interactivity. QR codes can transform your marketing campaign from static to interactive. Gamification always adds special appeal to a marketing campaign. QR codes provide access to exclusive video content, hidden messages in scavenger hunts, or even interactive polls and feedback mechanisms. This two-way communication not only captures attention but also gathers valuable customer insights, allowing you to refine your marketing strategies and build a stronger connection with your target audience.

Tips to remember when using QR codes

If you build your marketing strategy with QR codes, here are some rules for success:

  • Add a clear call to action. It is crucial to include a clear and concise message next to your QR code. The message must tell users what they will gain by scanning it, such as “unlock a discount” or “get a discount code”.
  • Make your content mobile-friendly.  All the information behind the QR code should be optimized for different screens to provide a seamless user experience.
  • Track and measure results. Use QR codes with tracking capabilities to see how many times they are scanned to see whether these help you in achieving your marketing goals.

How companies utilize QR code power

Many companies have realized the unparalleled power of QR codes and implemented them in their marketing campaigns. Let’s see how they do it in practice.

M&M’s, the famous candy brand, used QR codes to add an interactive element to its marketing campaign. QR codes can be found on packaging and promotional materials. Customers are encouraged to scan the codes and access exclusive content. For example, a user may unlock a digital game or get access to the behind-the-scenes process of candy production. Additionally, M&M’s added QR codes to social media promotions and advertisements, redirecting users to interactive landing pages where they could learn more about the brand and its products. This approach enabled M&M’s to transform passive packaging into a gateway for immersive brand experiences and boost sales.

The Home Depot, a leading home improvement retailer, used QR codes to enhance the customer shopping experience and provide valuable product information. You can find a QR code on product labels. Once you scan it, you access detailed product specifications, how-to videos, and DIY project guides. For example, scanning a QR code on a power tool will lead you to instructional videos demonstrating proper usage and safety tips. This approach empowers customers to purchase more DIY projects and reduces unnecessary returns due to a lack of user knowledge.

HBO, the renowned entertainment network, introduced QR codes into its marketing campaign to promote its TV shows and movies. QR codes appeared in posters, trailers, and social media posts to encourage viewers to unlock exclusive content. For example, viewers can watch extended trailers and even participate in interactive quizzes. Additionally, HBO allows its customers to scan codes to receive special offers or enter contests. This QR code experiment helped HBO transform traditional advertising into interactive experiences and create buzz around its content.

Key takeaway

QR codes have quickly become essential tools in the modern marketing arsenal. They efficiently fill the gap between the physical and digital worlds. Just with a simple scan, customers can seamlessly access a wealth of information and interactive experiences. QR codes help brands make their marketing campaigns interactive and engaging. Modern tech-savvy consumers appreciate the ability to quickly get data-driven insights. What is more important, QR code technology not only enhances customer engagement but also allows marketers to track campaign performance and gather valuable data to refine their strategies for more results.

Featured Image by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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