The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to adjust to a new reality in which social contact is necessarily scarce.
This has created some very real challenges for businesses across the United States. But it’s also opened up some new opportunities for forward-thinking companies.
The pandemic-fueled resurgence of QR codes is a perfect example: more companies and consumers are using QR codes because they enable socially-distanced interaction between sellers and buyers.
If your company hasn’t embraced this shift yet, now could be the perfect time to do so.
Integrating QR codes into your business strategy can help you drive socially-distanced sales by opening up new ways for you to interact with (and market to) your customers.
Let’s take a look at:
- What QR codes are
- How they’re being used
- How your business can begin benefitting from QR codes
What is a QR code?
Let’s start with the basics. QR is short for “quick response.” It was invented by a Japanese engineer named Masahiro Hara in 1994. His goal was to create a faster way to track vehicles and parts during the manufacturing process.
Over the years that followed, a variety of additional sectors, including advertising, marketing, and online payment services, began using QR codes.
Today, QR codes are entirely mainstream thanks to the rise of the smartphone. The technology really began picking up steam in 2017, when Apple added a native QR code reader to the iPhone camera app.
Almost overnight, there were suddenly 700 million iPhone users who could instantly read QR codes anywhere they went without having to download a single app.
How do QR codes help businesses find new customers?
QR codes are capable of storing tons of data. Companies often use them to take information from a transitory source, such as an in-venue digital sign or a webpage, and display that information on a consumer’s cell phone. The consumer only needs to scan the QR code to access that information on their phone.
There are several ways that businesses are using this technology to increase their customer base. Here’s what they’re doing.
Quickly download apps with QR codes
You can create a QR code that automatically sends consumers to the download page of your app when they scan it. This is a fast way to get more users into your ecosystem.
Some companies even incentivize their customers to do this. For example, a coffee shop might offer a free drink to consumers who have scanned QR codes to download the store’s app.
QR codes for discounts and promos
Companies are also using QR codes as part of their product marketing strategies. You can create codes offering special deals that customers won’t be able to find anywhere else. Place these in strategic locations and you could start to see an increase in your total revenue.
Share important information about your business through QR codes
In the past, a consumer would need to call a store to learn things like where they’re located, their hours of operation and their menu (if they were a restaurant). Then came the internet, where people could visit a company’s website to learn all of this information.
Now, QR codes are making the process of sharing important information with your customers easier than ever. With a QR code, you can share your menu, directions to your brick-and-mortar stores, or virtually any other type of information that you might want your customers to have easy access to.
This is much easier for them than having to manually track down all of this meaningful information.
Use QR codes to direct customers to a specific webpage
88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience. So you might use a QR code to send your customers directly to the webpage that you want them to visit.
This could seriously reduce the risk of them having a bad website experience because they won’t have to navigate to your store, your blog, an email list sign-up page, or wherever else you want them to go. Instead, your QR code makes it easy for them to access the exact information they want when they want it.
Are QR codes free to use?
Yes and no. You can generate and use static QR codes for free. These are basic QR codes that aren’t alterable after they’ve been created. They also don’t gather any tracking metrics and may not even last forever depending on where you make them.
You should only use a static QR code if you don’t plan on tracking the data from the campaign that you launch. For example, you might want to create a simple email or text QR code for consumers that you don’t plan to use in an ongoing campaign. If so, a static code will get the job done.
Dynamic QR codes tend to cost some money. As the name suggests, these QR codes are alterable after you create them. And they also generate meaningful statistics for you to track.
For example, a dynamic QR code could show you:
- How many times the code has been scanned
- Where it’s being scanned the most
- Which operating system is doing most of the scanning
Having access to information like this can help you fine-tune your marketing efforts in ways that static QR codes will never be able to match.
Ultimately, both static and dynamic QR codes have their place in the modern marketing landscape. Each could potentially help your business reach its goals. The best choice for your business depends on its next QR code campaign goals.
How the pandemic is revolutionizing the use of QR codes
COVID-19 has led to staggering growth in the usage of QR codes.
Restaurants, hotels, and retailers lead this surge in demand. These businesses share the fact that they’ve traditionally interacted with their customers in person. They’ve had to adapt to using QR codes during the pandemic to keep the spread of the virus controlled.
But don’t expect the usage of QR codes to die down after the pandemic is over. These codes create contactless solutions to timeless business problems. For example, they enable contactless payment and order pickup, as well as the seamless transfer of information that previously needed a human’s touch.
Take restaurant menus, for example. Customers used to have to wait for their server to provide them with menus. With QR codes, diners can instantly access a menu and pick what they want to eat before they even meet their server. This can be impactful for customers who only have a short amount of time to spend in the restaurant.
Due to the pandemic, businesses now recognize the value of QR codes as a means of generating attention and revenue. Some of the world’s largest brands, such as Nike, Marriott, and Nestle, now use QR codes to manage and scale digital marketing campaigns. This type of adoption indicates that QR codes are here to stay.
QR codes in digital signage are the future of business
One of the most powerful ways for your company to embrace QR code technology is through digital signage. Digital signage involves the usage of multimedia screens to market your product or service to customers.
The beauty of digital signage is how easy it makes it to reach your customers exactly where they are. So your marketing campaigns can reach your customers whether they’re at their table, at the bar, or paying at the cash register. The number of opportunities to leverage digital signage inside your venue with QR codes is particularly impressive.
For example, imagine that your goal is to get more people to download your app. You could launch a digital signage campaign that utilizes a QR code, driving customers to your app download page.
Place this in strategic locations inside your venue and reward your customers for downloading it. They’ll be much more likely to do so since they’re already in your venue, especially if they can use the reward that they get immediately.
In-venue QR codes displayed through digital signage can also help you create highly-targeted marketing campaigns, integrated social media feeds and so much more. You can leverage all of these capabilities together to achieve stunning results for your company’s marketing campaigns.
But don’t just take our word for it. Consider giving UPshow a chance. We make customized digital signage software that can increase revenue generated through your in-venue screens.
You can schedule a custom demo with UPshow today. We look forward to hearing from you.