The pandemic has popularised the use of QR codes. BRIDGET BROWN has observed their widespread adoption by marketers and believes they have a role to play for jewellery retailers too.
As if to signify the ‘coming of age’ for QR codes, more than 20 million people scanned a code in an advertisement
during the NFL Superbowl.
This Superbowl ad for the crypto app Coinbase brought newfound attention to QR codes and is, perhaps, the latest example of QR codes being successfully used in consumer marketing.
Based on their use, there’s about a 50 per cent chance that you’ve scanned a QR code in the past month. Of course, QR codes rose to prominence in Australia when the people were forced to use them during the COVID pandemic.
These little black squares were invented in 1994 in Japan to track parts in automotive manufacturing.
Now they join face masks, Zoom, Slack and so many other ideas on the list of things that existed before the pandemic but are now entrenched in our everyday life in a way not seen only two years ago.
Don’t call it a comeback
Marketers tried to introduce and popularise QR codes with consumers more than a decade ago, beginning around 2010. I recall seeing companies trying to use them to share information with journalists, with little success.
At the time, I wrote them off as a fad, a barrier to communication rather than an enhancer. However, I suspected everything was going to change for QR codes in 2017 when Apple’s iPhone camera could read QR codes without an additional app.
Experts as far back as 2013 said that QR codes would remain a gimmick until smartphones could automatically read them.
How right they were!
Before this time, people needed to download an extra app to scan a QR code and it could take seemingly forever to load a tiny, hard-to-read website.
By 2017, most people had quality mobile internet service, and many companies had built mobile-responsive websites.
At that time, I brainstormed ways my clients might use QR codes to generate leads. I soon shelved the idea when I realised a gap in the process. Most people still didn’t know their camera phone could read QR codes, making the audience education aspect of the tool onerous.
In 2022, consumer QR codes aren’t making a comeback so much as they’re undergoing a renaissance, and it’s because of the pandemic.
We had to learn to communicate in the time of COVID and QR codes were a great way to do exactly that, without the physical contact. This is the environment marketers have been waiting for.
QR codes are increasingly on product packaging, linking to lists of ingredients. They’re on movie posters linking to the trailer. They’re in carparks, showing you where you’ve left your vehicle.
Since the technology is so easy and inexpensive to adopt, it’s time for you to consider how you might use it for your own marketing.
Embrace QR codes
Consider putting a QR code on your business card that allows people to add your information to their contacts. You could also use a code on the signup page of your newsletter to serve a similar function.
Retailers might place a QR code on a poster for their business that sends people directly to your website. Consider connecting the use of the code to a promotion or sale.
Place a QR code on the side of a work vehicle so people can easily save your contact information.
They could also be placed on your store signage with your opening hours or a link to your website.
I’ve seen QR codes placed on receipts or invoices to make it easier to purchase from a retailer again. They can be used on a jewellers website to create a seamless handoff from your customer’s desktop experience to their mobile experience.
For example, a potential customer could scan a code that calls your business phone number, connects them to your social media channels, or send directions to your bricks-and-mortar location.
You could run print ads with QR codes in multiple locations you’re interested in targeting. You’ll be able to see where your audience is the most engaged. Connect your Google review link to a QR code, so it’s easier for people to give you reviews.
Don’t miss out
Before you jump into the world of QR codes, take the time to read about the difference between dynamic and static codes.
Also, keep in mind that as they continue to become more popular with consumers, so will the scams that use QR codes.
So if you use one, make sure you promote feelings of safety with your audience. Make it clear what will happen when they scan your QR code so that the more risk-averse users feel comfortable using yours.