QR Codes: The Comeback Kid

It took 26 years, but QR codes are having a moment. 

Over the last 18 months, brands and businesses have needed to provide touch-free experiences, and QR codes have become the go-to mechanic. Whilst more widely driven from the pandemic health and safety check-in methods, brands have quickly adapted to using QR codes as a solution; from restaurant menus to entering to win a competition.. In fact, Juniper Research predicts that the number of QR code coupons redeemed via mobile will reach 5.3 billion by 2022 (a big increase, when an estimated 1.3 billion were redeemed five years earlier, in 2017). This is a huge positive for marketers — they have a reliable method and channel for engagement and communication with their audience. 

And for consumers, QR codes have come to the fore as a second-nature and familiar mechanism. Mobile phone cameras easily scan and open QR codes in browsers, which is a seamless way for consumers to get information like a restaurant menu, to share data points, or to make a retail return. They make good sense for marketers to use, but what about consumers? Statista found that less than 15% of respondents hadn’t used a QR code, and over 30% had scanned a QR code within the last week. 

How QR codes are being used to improve experience

QR codes are a huge opportunity for the omnichannel world. If we look to China, a country well known for its tech innovation and seamless experiences, shoppers can use WeChat to scan QR codes to learn more about a product range, interact with in-store displays, and even choose fitting room music while they try on clothes. There is also a game mechanic element to this omnichannel experience: when consumers take certain actions in the app, they are rewarded with special features like secret items on a restaurant menu in the venue. 

This trend is only expected to continue, given that it enhances the brand experience, whether that’s in-store or online, for the unknown anonymous buyer to the loyal customer. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2023, 80% of ordering, checkout, and payment services will become contactless. 
In fact, Japanese company Cygames used a scannable QR code in the sky to promote the launch of video game Princess Connect! Re:Dive in China. The QR code was created by 1,500 drones in the air, and it’s surely the most creative use we’ve seen.

Source: Twitter.

QR codes in practice

Given their ease of use, QR codes are already frequently used for:

  • To replace physical menus in pubs and restaurants. Some restaurants even use QR codes for ordering, so that guests can order exactly when they are ready.
  • To make returns quick and easy. When a consumer needs to return an item, they just quickly show a QR code and the post office or courier can scan, print the label, and already have the personal information recorded. This is especially convenient given how few of us have printers at home.
  • To learn more at events. We’ve started using QR codes at our events because they seamlessly take our event participants from the presentation to the event game. No asking attendees to type a URL into their browser. 

Now is the time to take advantage of QR codes being at the forefront of consumer experience; we know that they take consumers offline to online, but can gamification make them even more effective?

Game mechanics level up the fun of QR codes

What’s the perfect way to use this opportunity in a more fun, engaging, and exciting way? By using game mechanics to engage, activate, and delight your audience. Given that QR codes are becoming more everyday and accessible, marketers can combine them with gamification to make an even more seamless experience for the audience.

Best practice for using QR codes successfully

Here are our top five tips on how to get the most out of QR codes in your marketing:

  1. Know your audience, where they spend and which audiences will best respond to QR codes. 
  2. Be smart about the landing page and ensure it’s mobile first, easy to use, has a quick load time, and is easy to maneuver. 
  3. Get the data right,  ensure you can track analytics on scans, clicks, and any other inactions. 
  4. Keep it simple. Nothing is worse than a not smooth offline to online experience, so ensure recipients know clearly what they’re scanning for, what’s expected of them when they get there (i.e registration, short form etc), the benefit to them. Basically be clear about the value exchange.
  5. Make it engaging, keep it fun and exciting. Gamification can be a strong complement! 

QR codes have little learning curve and are easy to begin using as part of the customer experience. You may even attract a new audience segment— those who wouldn’t necessarily find your campaigns online. There are also many benefits and value adds for marketers including gathering data, using omnichannel which we know audiences expect (Deloitte found that 87% expect omnichannel as part of the experience), attracting a different audience segment. All of this will ideally lead to more interactions, a better customer journey, and driving purchases.