Why a QR renaissance?

What’s behind the QR resurgence? It’s about the ubiquitous nature of the mobile devices we carry, and the pandemic:

Accessibility with mobile ease. When QR codes first came out, consumers needed a separate app to scan. That created friction, interrupting the buyers journey. Few people bothered to take the extra step. Today, QR readers are built into most phones’ camera. Point at the QR code and automatically you’re connected to a digital experience. eMarketer predicts smartphone QR code scanners to increase from just over 50% in 2019 to nearly 100% by 2025.

Contactless, safe options during the pandemic. Almost overnight, restaurants started connecting menus to QR codes that customers could scan to order there or as take-out. Soon, other retail and hospitality establishments followed.

“Within a very short time scanning a QR code became second nature to a much wider audience of smartphone users,” said John Puterbaugh. “Suddenly, a once-dormant marketing tool has become a powerful way for marketers to connect with consumers, driving them offline to online.”

Just how many connections? According to Statista:

  • 6.3 billion people worldwide were using smartphones in 2021 — more than 80% of the world’s population
  • By 2026, the number of users is expected to grow to 7.5 billion
  • In June 2021, 59% of U.S. shoppers believed QR codes would be a permanent part of using their phone in the future

“It’s about connecting consumers with businesses in new and engaging ways, using the simplest technology everyone understands — their smartphone,” Puterbaugh said.

How are marketers using QR codes?

  • Retail businesses are using QR codes to drive purchases, deliver coupons and provide more packaging labeling information
  • Restaurants are using QR code at tables to access menus, discounts and loyalty programs
  • TV commercials and other programming are building in QR codes that viewers can scan to enhance the content experience online; advertisers are driving traffic to landing pages
  • Realtors are placing QR codes on signs outside homes for sale, giving buyers a chance to virtually tour and receive more information
  • Businesses of all sizes are using QR codes to connect with consumers on social media, increasing followers and enhancing engagement
  • Companies using direct mail are adding QR codes to drive traffic to engaging online experiences
  • Print advertising uses QR codes to provide coupons and seamless online or in-store connections

Flowcode: QR codes 2.0

Growing in popularity are advanced Flowcodes, a next-gen QR technology that provides more options for marketers to engage with customers. Unlike the basic, square black-and-white image of a traditional QR code, Flowcodes combine brand design with a QR code to create a unique image. They can be colorful, brand-specific and, dare we say, pretty.

“More importantly, given the deprecation of third-party cookies, Flowcodes are a great way to capture first- party data,” Puterbaugh said. “With businesses focusing on better understanding customers and their offline and online behaviors, Flowcodes are becoming the de facto platform for deploying better looking, smarter QR codes.”

Each Flowcode provides advanced tracking through a unique URL. When the code is scanned, it will first go to that unique URL and then to the set destination, reporting back how many times a code was scanned, from where and more. The dashboard shows the number of scans, and the number of page visits and clicks across each link type.