Welcome back, QR codes

The QR code. That’s right, this “technology fossil” has survived its share of hype cycles, including a surge last year as the COVID-19 pandemic became an accelerant for digital payment options. And for anyone who thinks we’re going to abandon the preference for digital shopping post-pandemic, think again. But that’s an update for another day. Back to the QR code and why this matters.

The surge of usage has people asking, “Is the QR code making a comeback?” Well, it never went away, but when it came to our rescue last year as a resource to minimize person-to-person contact, we were reminded of its benefits and how we could use them.

When we think of the QR code, we shouldn’t just label it as another digital tactic, but rather as a tool all marketers should leverage and think about as a way to enrich customer experiences. QR codes are used to gain access to data, transfer information, bridge traditional and digital channels, engage with customers, track activity, access content, create experiential moments, provide touchless payment and minimize person-to-person contact, among many other things.

Here are three examples of some QR codes in use beginning with B2C and how it can work for B2B.

Special K Turns Their Cereal Box Into a TV Network
Offering users who scanned their QR code access to an 18-episode video series inspiring customers to have a simpler, more meaningful day.

How this can work for B2B: This is about enriching one touchpoint experience and pushing audiences to custom content. Whether it’s within a direct mail, product ad, media kit or at the point of purchase to compare products, use QR codes to launch video or other forms of engaging content to connect further with your audience.

QR Code Greeting Cards Become the New “Mix Tapes” and Send You to Spotify Playlists
To clear up any confusion, a “mix tape” is something us ’80s kids spent countless hours making and was a compilation of recorded songs we had to wait all day to hear on the radio. This example shows the much-needed evolution of that practice—thank you, Spotify playlists—and the possibilities when you combine it with a traditional greeting card.

How this can work for B2B: Include QR codes on printed materials such as sell sheets, white papers, brochures, etc., that provide audio access to subject matter experts (think podcast, tutorials, audio versions of content pieces to listen to on the go, webinars, etc.). For webinar access, this also provides easy event sign-up options through scanning the QR code. Once accessed, you can track users and retarget them via other touchpoints.

Nike Uses QR Codes to Give Shoppers Experiential Choices
Enhancing experiences is key to connecting with any audience. Here, Nike displayed QR codes throughout their flagship store, giving customers a unique shopping experience.

How this works for B2B: Think about all the ways you could enhance your customer’s experience with your brand. Adding a QR code sticker to machine equipment that launches access to customer support, manuals, parts or reordering can make daunting tasks a bit easier on plant managers. Adding QR codes to manuals with access to video tutorials on proper machine training, safety practices and common troubleshooting situations can save a production line from downtime and the ongoing cost of one-to-one training. For more advanced scenarios, a QR code can connect to an AR component, showing customers what products would look like in their space and the benefits they could bring.

Ready to “bring back” the QR code? Keep these tips in mind.

  1. Customize your design. QR codes don’t have to be black and white. You can create them with designs, logos, color, etc., to make them stand out more and align with your brand.
  2. Keep your code greater than 2 cm x 2 cm if you want it to work.
  3. Attach a UTM code so you can better track the code’s activity and engagement.
  4. Add a compelling CTA. Let users know what to expect when they scan the QR code. Be specific. Tease your offer or what content lies ahead.
  5. Think beyond the code. Don’t stop with the scan. Think about ways to stay connected with the user after they take this action, such as retargeting ads, app downloads, connecting on social, email sign-ups, etc.
  6. Physical to digital. Web addresses will be seen, QR codes will be accessed. Look for ways to bridge the gap between offline journey touchpoints to digital.

When it comes to deciding whether or not to use a QR code, ask yourself, “Is this something that will actually help my target audience or am I just creating more friction and adding complexity for the sake of chasing a trend?” If the answer is yes to the first part of that question, then QR code away!

Interested in learning more or need support implementing QR codes into your customer’s journey? Contact Jamie at jamie.gyerman@akhia.com