To Add a QR Code or Not to Add

Will QR Codes be relevant for print advertising in 2020? They most certainly will. The advances in QR Codes have increased the ways that QR Codes can be used. Walmart has used codes to enhance in-store customer experience, allow customers to store a digital receipt and to use a “Savings Catcher” program to reap savings if a product is priced cheaper by a competitor.

QR codes can be used in any type of print media. Incorporating a QR code on a direct mail piece can invite engagement in multiple ways. The code can direct consumers to any online content. Once marketers have identified the campaign goals and target audience, adding QR codes to printed advertising is simple. So the question is not should marketers include QR codes but what is the best way to add QR codes to printed advertising?

What are QR Codes?

Quick Response (QR) Codes were used widely in Japan before 2017. They are two dimensional codes that store data such as URL links, geo coordinates and text.  A QR code can be used to link to text, coupons, a business card, multimedia, social media or other digital marketing content. QR codes can be very versatile as they can hold up to 7,089 characters. This means they can support multimedia content.

Before 2017, a separate code reader app had to be downloaded, but now QR codes can be scanned and read right through the camera of most smartphones. With internet speeds increasing to 5.6 Mbps, scanning codes will be quick and simple.

Consumers, Millennials in particular, are becoming used to scanning codes. Due to the increased use on social media where users scan QR codes to sign up for accounts, follow accounts and link accounts; consumers engage with QR codes on a daily basis. Retail marketers can use these codes to increase consumer involvement and track the success of print campaigns.

QR codes are cost effective and easy to deploy. Codes can be generated using several online apps that allow the codes to be customized. And each code will allow unlimited scans. Dynamic QR codes do not expire, are editable, retrievable and can be used for multiple purposes.

How Can QR Codes be Used?

The versatility of applications for QR codes makes them a powerful tool to use in printed material for retail organizations. The codes can drive consumers to the store website, coupons, initiate customer service, quickly sign consumers up for loyalty plans or subscribe them to a newsletter. They can contain product details, contact details, offer details, event details and more. The uses for QR codes are only limited by your imagination. T/O Printing can advise on best ways to use codes in your advertising, and design ways gather analytics collected from scans.

QR codes can be customized with logos, colors and different shapes. In the past, QR codes were static, but now dynamic QR codes are used. Dynamic QR codes can be updated with new information and do not expire. QR codes resist damage from wear and tear, and can be used on longer term printed advertising. There is no limit to the number of times a QR code can be scanned.

Retailers can use QR codes to link the physical consumer experience with digital to enhance the customer experience. Some retailers use codes that link the consumer to a Personal URL to engage at a deeper level and track responses.

It is not used widely in America but QR code payment technology is common in Japan and China. There are a few larger American retailers that have begun to test out QR code payment technology. As the technology is improved, more retailers will find it useful and it will be available to consumers more broadly.

Direct Mail and QR Codes

A Direct Mail campaign is a powerful way to directly reach your audience. A QR code added to the advertisement provides a very simple way for the viewer to follow through to webpages, promotions or other content.

Traditionally, it has been difficult to track the effectiveness of a direct mail campaigns, but with QR codes, performance can be tracked based on the number of scans. Once the consumer has engaged, their behavior can be monitored for further insight and data. Consumers who have scanned can be retargeted in multiple ways.

The QR Code technology is expected to grow exponentially fairly quickly. Consumers are becoming more and more accustomed to scanning. Millennials use QR codes at the highest rate of any other consumer group. If you are targeting Millennials, including a QR code in your print advertisement is wise.

T/O Printing can offer guidance on the right size of the code and content needed to encourage consumers to scan. QR codes can be fantastic tools in an omnichannel marketing campaign. After considering all the ways that you can use QR codes, if you are still questioning whether you should add them to your printed advertising, call us and let our experience provide answers for creating the best campaigns in 2020.