QR (Quick Response) Codes were popularised back in the early 2010s but fell mostly out of fashion, until recent months. In our current coronavirus climate, QR codes now sit on almost every commercial dining table from sushi bars to full-service restaurants.

These codes provide a quick and straightforward way to register contact details of diners should the unfortunate situation arise where contact tracing is required. So now that we are used to QR codes again, will we see the second coming of the (not so) humble QR code?


QR code technology changed and we didn’t even notice

QR Codes were initially designed for large scale manufacturing, to track components around factories and warehouses. The technology works because it requires very little input to scan, hence being a “quick response” code. When QR codes started to seep into mainstream marketing, it was at a time when digital marketing newly established as the reigning king of advertising. These codes provided a mechanism to connect traditional media (flyers, posters and larger format ads such as bus stops) with a digital action and then track conversion. For marketers, it was exciting; for the first time, we could start to track real-time conversion to our more traditional ads in the same way we do for the digital space. However, in Australia at least, the appetite for the QR code waned as a separate app was required even to scan the code, making it too cumbersome for most.

Although QR codes never really took off in Australia, our Asian neighbours were fare more accepting. QR coded marketing kept growing through Asia, leading to continued advances in the technology. Now, QR codes do not need a separate app to read the code; most mobile phone cameras are equipped to read and action to coded request.


What’s next in QR codes?

Where QR codes were traditionally used in marketing to direct the reader to a website, they now can allow for coded actions, leading to some exciting opportunities for digital marketers.


E-commerce – Purchase on the go

QR codes can revolutionise the way that printed media interacts with e-commerce. Technology now exists where flyers or brochures can have QR codes next to items that add the product to a user’s cart, ready for check out. Instant purchases are also available. Fancy getting tickets to the show advertised on the sign you see as you commute to work? A QR code can take the user straight to purchase; when we combine this with Apple Pay (and similar) technologies, a purchase can be mere seconds away.


Google My Business Reviews

Do you have any marketing material you give to your clients or customers before or after you work with them? A thank you pack? Your business card or a fridge magnet? Have you thought about including a QR Code somewhere so that your customer can scan it? You can then send them directly to your Google My Business Reviews page and and prompt them to leave that ever so important review. Or you can send them to your online store, website or social media page!


 V Cards are a virtual business card and are used extensively in Asia not just to identify a person but also automatically add their contact details to your phones address book. Some Asian countries also use this style of application of the QR code technology to certify individuals in more official capacities, for example, police checks.


Virtual Stores

The idea of a virtual store is not new, but the concept of turning a train station or side of a building into a store is. With items being able to be purchased automatically and delivered to the phone users’ home, it is no surprise that some of the biggest names in traditional retail are investing heavily in this technology.


Other Applications

Augmented reality video gaming, food traceability, password protection and tourism are just some of the other areas where QR code technology is being developed and experimented.


How To Use QR Codes In Marketing?

An excellent digital marketing strategy is not just a list of digital activities for you or your digital agency to implement. Instead, it is a flexible document that provides a digital foundation for your organisation whilst allowing flexibility to embrace new ideas and technologies. If there is one thing, I know as a Digital Marketing Consultant, it is that change inevitable. I also know that limiting the barriers to purchase leads to higher conversions, and QR code marketing may be the key to this for the future. How can you integrate your digital marketing strategy with QR codes?

The key in digital marketing is being able to think ahead, react quickly to a changing market and create campaigns that merge technology and content in fresh and innovative ways. At Lee Paton Digital, this is what we do.