How to Use QR Codes in Marketing Effectively While Avoiding Pitfalls

Apr 19, 2022

QR codes made a big comeback during the pandemic.

A nationwide emphasis on hands-free interaction led to their resurgence – and soon they were popping up everywhere – pizzerias, food trucks, fancy restaurants, and product packaging. They even made a big splash at this year’s Super Bowl.

Now, everyone seems to want a piece of that Quick Response (yep, that’s what it stands for) pie. More and more businesses are requesting the use of QR codes in marketing materials, allowing users to access a landing page and/or social media accounts, download a new app, or receive a text offer. And while this amazing tool does offer convenience and a contemporary flair, there are certain steps to take to ensure you use them effectively, while avoiding some unpleasant pitfalls.

But first the benefits:

  • They offer speed and accuracy: Remembering lengthy URLs is a pain, and even when a potential customer is reading your website address off of a card or a brochure, the propensity for a frustrating typing error is huge – particularly on mobile screens. QR codes provide immediate access to your site or info with one quick scan.
  • They deliver more information with less space: Say you want to share a list of ingredients with customers, or a timeline of your business’s greatest hits – but there’s precious little real estate on your packaging, or there’s no eye-pleasing way to design your poster with 800 bullet points. And not everyone wants to read this information, anyway. QR codes allow you to share endless specifics with the audience that wants and needs them.
  • They open a doorway to engaging content: Technology hasn’t quite advanced to the point that your small business’s advertisement can share video clips or photo galleries. But QR codes in marketing give you a great way to share such dynamic content with your target audience while allowing them to access it in real-time on their mobile devices.
  • They’re trackable. Analytics is the name of the game when it comes to effective marketing. Unfortunately, print media are rather limited when it comes to their ability to be tracked. But by including a QR code on printed collateral, you can effectively track the time and location of each scan, as well as how many people have scanned your code. Advanced analytics event tracking even allows you to track the clicks and engagement on certain actionable elements on customized landing pages.

One of the biggest potential hazards of using QR codes in marketing, however, is that as technology has advanced – so have hackers.

As it turns out, QR Codes are ridiculously simple to forfeit. They all look relatively the same, and their prolific nature has made them commonly accepted and used, making them an easy target for fraud. Unfortunately, they are increasingly being used in phishing scams to steal a user’s personal and financial information. By tinkering with a code, cybercriminals can redirect users to illegitimate websites that are used to snag login data, financial info, and so much more.

Increasingly, duplicitous cyber attackers are replacing legit QR codes with scams and lookalikes. All it takes is a deftly placed sticker atop a “good” QR code to send some unsuspecting customer down a bad path.

All that being said, QR codes do offer an interactive means of engaging with your audience, and thanks to today’s smartphones it’s a point-and-click affair that makes life much easier on them, which you want.

The most important thing to remember if implementing QR codes in marketing is to make certain your customers access the site and information you intended.

  • Brand your QR code with your logo and colors.
  • Include the legitimate URL in your messaging and on all other marketing materials.
  • Include a disclaimer that informs users where they will be redirected, and stress that they should not disclose personal information.
  • Provide a hyperlink to your site in all emailed correspondence instead of a QR code. QR codes in marketing are meant as a convenience when clicking on a link or entering a URL is not possible.
  • Use a reputable generator. The IMPACT team frequently uses QR Monkey for projects, which has yielded great results.

When in doubt, seek the counsel of a digital marketing specialist. We’re here to help.

Lisa Brousseau

Digital Marketing Specialist

IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations, LLC

IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations, LLC

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