How to Use QR Codes to Sync Online and Offline Marketing

Learn how to better sync your online and offline marketing campaigns using QR codes and improve your business's ROI.

By Will Blunt ・5 min read
Best Practices
Business & Marketing Strategy
Campaign & Contest Ideas

How well do your online marketing campaigns sync with your offline initiatives?For most businesses, the answer is probably “not very well.”Too often online and offline marketing are seen as two separate departments, siloed in their own world of strategy and anticipated outcomes.Some of the more cohesive organizations have the events team collaborate with social media managers to generate on-the-go content, but this is where the relationship stops.Unless your marketing efforts are solely focused on one of these channels, creating a holistic strategy that has them working in sync is critical to achieving a positive return on investment.One form of technology which bridges the gap between online and offline marketing campaigns is the QR code.

What is a QR code?

A QR code is basically a fancy barcode which stores information that you can immediately access by scanning (or photographing) on your smartphone. The scanning process happens instantaneously and typically opens a URL on the phone, making this technology perfect for connecting consumers with the digital world from a physical location such as a store or event.They look like this:

QR Code

Example of a QR code. Image Source

Why use QR codes for marketing?

So, why would you use QR codes in your marketing efforts?QR codes are designed to solve one very clear problem - connecting the online and offline worlds of a marketing campaign or business initiative. If you want to create more cohesion between these two critical parts of your business then using QR codes may help, if handled in the right way.There is an ongoing debate about the need for QR codes. Some believed they would go the way of the mini-disk MP3 player and be a forgotten technology that, despite showing initial technological advancement, offered merely a stop-gap solution until better technology hit the market. But unlike the mini-disk, QR codes are yet to meet their iPod - basically, no better technology has been released which creates an instant experience between the online and offline business ecosystem. Subsequently, the use of QR codes in marketing has slowly grown, especially now that everyone has a QR code reader in their pocket.Love them, hate them, or hold an impartial opinion - QR codes offer an efficient method for drawing consumers to your digital offers when you interact with them in the offline world.

9 ways to use QR codes for marketing

There are several ways you can use QR codes to better sync your online and offline marketing efforts. Here are nine of the most common:#1. Claim discounts and coupons - If you are looking to generate online sales, using a QR code that offers an online discount or coupon at the point of sale in-store or as a promotion on a flyer, could be a good way to attract prospects to your online store. Below is a point-of-sale QR code promotion for a local restaurant app called MealPal offering the “First Lunch Free”:

Claim discount and coupons using QR Codes

Using QR codes for discounts.#2. Compare products - More and more consumers are comparing products before they make a purchase. Now that most people have a smartphone with internet access we see a lot of shoppers checking their phone for a better deal or to compare a product in-store. If you have a favorable online reputation on a 3rd party review or comparison platform, create a QR code for your product that takes customers directly to this site.#3. Store business information - QR codes can allow customers to quickly access and store your business information on their phone. This may be helpful at an event, for example, where you would traditionally exchange business cards or direct them to your website, both of which are clunky and hard to track.#4. Download an app - Sending potential users to the app store is a very common use-case for QR codes. Of course, if you don’t have an app then this approach won’t be relevant. But if you do, marketing your app with QR codes can be extremely effective.#5. Enter a contest - Running a social media contest can be a great way to increase the lead flow of your business. However, it is often restricted by the online platform you choose or the audiences you engage with online. Using QR codes that allow people to access your contest landing page can help you tap into a different audience and improve the performance of your contest. Here is a cool contest run by Turkish Airlines which had contestants scan QR codes at various places in London during the Olympics for the chance to win prizes:

#6. Increase social media engagement - As well as driving interested parties to your website, QR codes can be used to encourage people to visit and engage with your social media accounts. You will see this tactic used regularly in cafes and restaurants.#7. Join a rewards program - Getting people to log on to a website and join your rewards program can be a huge challenge for brick and mortar stores. QR codes help increase the number of people who join your rewards program. For example, this shopping center has a big QR code with access to their rewards program on all of the tables in the dining area:

Join reward program using QR Codes

Using QR codes for a rewards program.#8. Consume content - QR codes in marketing may not be all about driving sales, they could also be about increasing brand awareness or enticing people to engage with your content. For example, you may have a how-to video on YouTube which instructs customers on using your product. Why not link this video to a QR code and display it on the product in your store?#9. Leave customer reviews - I’m sure you appreciate how important online reviews are for the trust levels and growth of your business. After all, most of your customers are looking for peer product and service reviews before they purchase! You can encourage more customer reviews with QR codes at the point-of-sale. For example, you may have seen QR codes which say “We’re on Yelp,” that are designed to drive customers to Yelp to review the business.Whatever the objective of your QR code, it’s important to follow best practices in the way you use them. For example, the quality of the QR image you create needs to be high definition, the code should be displayed in an easy to access place for customers, and it should have a call-to-action that prompts users to scan.

How to create a QR code for your business

Once you have determined the way you plan to use your QR code, it’s time to create one.The process for creating a QR code is actually quite simple. There are several free QR code generators available which will have your unique code ready to use in minutes.Here are some popular examples:

  • me - An easy-to-use online QR code maker which allows you to add your URL, logo, and print high-resolution images.
  • QR Code Generator - A slightly more robust QR generator which has scope to integrate your QR code with social media, the app store, and customize the colors.
  • Kaywa - One of the most popular QR code generators used by over 1.5 million customers from some of the world’s biggest brands. Don’t let the old school website fool you, this tool has some great functionality.

When your QR code is customized and ready to go, these QR code generators will give you the high definition image files you need to add the codes to your marketing material and print them for use or add them to your website.Do you use QR codes in your marketing? If not, you may be missing an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by intertwining online and offline campaigns in one cohesive strategy.

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About the author

By Will Blunt ・5 min read

Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.

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