Most people have written off QR codes.
However, there are 3 major events that have resurrected QR codes. It’s hard to deny the success of the CoinBase QR code ad.
Here’s what Protocol.com had to say about it…
“Over 20 million people visited Coinbase’s landing page in a single minute after its floating QR code captivated every Super Bowl viewer on Sunday, the company said. And the crypto industry's advertising push has apparently only just begun.”
But wait, before we consider that as proof, let’s look at a few events which made that possible.
Smartphones Have Now Paved The Way For QR code Adoption
This was the most necessary technological advancement that had to take place for QR codes to become “a thing” in society. It’s been this way for years over in China, and there was always too much friction with downloading a specific QR reader app previously.
People hardly like to even click a link, let alone go search for, choose, download, install, and open a new app they’ve never used before just to maybe see a link they like.
That’s why QR codes didn’t take off a few years back.
The technology was just not there yet.
However, with most major smartphone makers now adopting native QR code scanning from their default camera apps, that friction has been removed. Today all I have to do to scan a QR code is point my camera at the weird pixelated blob and in less than a second my phone recognizes it.
From there it’s just a finger tap.
The whole thing takes place in the time it takes me to lift > aim > tap. The hassle is removed and it’s now a benefit instead of an inconvenience. QR codes add to my experience instead of make me feel out of the loop.
But that’s not all…
Social Media Giants Have Brute Forced QR Code Adoption In Gen X - Gen Z
Most people under 50 years old (majority of tech users) today, now know what a QR code is, and many are using them with their social media profiles.
Examples include SnapChat to add a friend. Sharing your FB profile via the little circular QR code they give you or with money transfer apps like CashApp and Venmo. Social media users really haven’t had a choice whether to adopt QR codes or not, the networks have forced their hand.
Which means somewhere around 200 million to 1 billion people have now used a QR code.
With a portion of them doing so multiple times per week.
Coupled with this is the rise of cryptocurrency and all the wallet apps that come with that. These technologies are also using QR codes for transactions and secure logins. Tech giants have stubbornly insisted on the technology and they are winning.
As evidenced by the Coinbase QR code Super Bowl ad.
The Pandemic Sped The Spread of QR codes
As our world became germaphobes overnight, restaurants needed a touchless way of putting menus in peoples hands. QR codes were the perfect technology for this and the timing was perfect thanks to smartphones now making it frictionless adoption.
Everywhere you go to eat these days, you’ll see an option for a touches menu.
Pull out your phone, scan the QR code, and the menu is on your screen in seconds.
Many local businesses followed. My local grocery store uses QR codes to schedule vaccine appointments. Downtown stores are starting to adopt Venmo as a payment option. You’ll see a QR code at the checkout and it’s as easy as scanning, tapping, and the payment is complete.
Why Does Any of This Matter? Why QR codes?
Maybe you’re not impressed by 20 million visitors in 60 seconds.
Maybe you’re intimidated by that and cast it off as an anomaly - a SuperBowl ad - not accessible for normal people like ourselves.
However, you may be overlooking the huge problem that QR codes solve. We’re living out a major transition as the Internet transform from a text-based medium to a video based medium. As a text-based medium hyperlinks were very easy attribution, but video adds complexity to that.
QR codes are to video what hyperlinks were to text.
It gives the user a quick and easy way to “click” a link and gives the creator a concrete attribution source for that visitor. Which also solves the same issue for every billboard, magazine ad, postcard, flyer, and signs everywhere.
QR codes are not just a marketing gimmick.
They are a solution to a major problem and now the technology as well as consumer adoption has caught up to allow this solution to flourish.
QR codes are the new “links” that users will use to access more information, visit web pages, watch videos, complete transactions, and give creators first party data collection as well as clear attribution.
As the Internet continues it’s modernization and maturation, we’ll need more than hyperlinks of old. Especially, as the Internet becomes more and more a part of our local offline life as well, ie doctors office appointment settings and restaurant menus.
“Must-Have” Use Cases For QR codes in 2022 and Beyond?
If you’re sold that QR codes are here to stay, but need some ideas, we’ve got you. Here are a few big ideas that we believe will make QR codes a “MUST” instead of a pleasantry.
Dynamic QR codes
These are QR codes that stays the same from a design standpoint. Meaning, the image does not change, but based on a set of creator established rules, the QR code destination changes.
For example, lets say you’re an e-commerce store and you want your QR code to redirect users to a waiting list page when an item is sold out. This would be a great use of a dynamic QR code. Another example would be checking to see what device was used to scan the QR code and directing them to an android app vs iPhone app.
Dynamic QR codes allow the creator to setup automations based on a whole list of options. Allowing you to create marketing automations right at the point of the user scanning the QR code.
Retargeting QR code Users
We’ve all gotten used to retargeting people who click a link to visit a page.
Now you can use the QR code to grab device data, load that into your Google or Facebook ads, and create retargeting campaigns for those specific people. Imagine this power for restaurants, who can now retarget users with a free appetizer offer after they’ve scanned a menu last week.
Or getting ultra specific with your video ad retargeting. Allowing you to retarget people who not only reached a specific length of your video, but who also scanned the call to action in your video.
QR codes As Banner Ads
For many years the click-thru rates on banner ads have diminished. However, using a QR code with your banner ad all of a sudden adds a new method of engagement. With the ability to either click or scan, you get a two for 1 on your banner ads.
For some first movers, you’ll also gain the shock value of having your entire banner ad be just a QR code. Similar to what CoinBase did with their SuperBowl ad.
QR code Texts & Emails
Currently most of our uses are the bare minimum functionality of QR codes. However, they can do a lot more than what we see them being used for.
One example is using QR codes to send pre-written text messages to pre-determined numbers. Which can also be done with email (pre-written subject and body with pre-determined email address.) Allowing you to sign people up for subscriptions, newsletters, and trigger all kinds of additional marketing automations.
Lastly, if you live and breath digital marketing, maybe QR codes don’t matter much to you. After all you’ve likely already thought of workarounds for all of my suggestions. You are a different breed though.
For local businesses, for billboard buyers, for physical product sellers QR codes are adding a layer of attribution, data collection, and automation that was never available before. For these marketers, a whole new world has just been opened to them.
Giving someone like you the ability to be the hero, bringing these ideas to them.
In short, QR codes are here to stay. The tech has caught up, the user adoption has been established, and the use cases now solve real problems in way that previous methods cannot achieve.
Just like hyperlinks were never a big wow, they’ve been a must have in a marketers toolbox and now the QR code should sit right next to the hyperlink in your marketing toolbox.