A QR code call to action (CTA) is an important factor in helping today’s marketers increase response. When done well, they bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds. And they accomplish it quickly. Quick Response (QR) codes began in 1994 as a way for manufacturers to manage inventory and logistics by scanning barcodes. When used with mobile devices to promote marketing and other messages in the years that followed, they fell by the wayside after some initial interest. Several events reversed that shift:

  • QR code readers became a standardized, automatic smartphone camera feature; previously, a separate app was required
  • Marketers figured out that consumers wanted more than just a link to a website to respond
  • The pandemic dramatically increased demand for touchless tech touchpoints as a communications lifeline

Today, customers no longer face a long learning curve with using QR codes. Increasingly, consumer products and services include a QR code as part of the user experience. And even better, marketers make it easier and less mysterious to respond by including a clear call to action. Many opportunities exist to put them to work, as we’ll see below.

How Do QR Code Calls to Action Work?

QR codes make it easy and even fun for consumers to engage with a brand through a quick, simple, and interactive process. It all starts by opening a camera app on a smartphone. Unlike standard barcodes, QR codes store about 4,000 characters. The data – such as a website or an instruction to open an app – is represented by a series of pixels in a square pattern that the camera’s scanner feature reads from right to left and up to down. The following data points about the customer are tracked:

  • Location of scan
  • Time of scan
  • Number of scans
  • OS for device used to scan

And on the mobile device, the right website or app is instantly opened, connecting the physical and digital worlds for the consumer.

Benefits of QR Code Calls to Action

A QR code call to action – when done well – helps the message, marketing campaign, or task at hand succeed. Here are some of the many benefits for using one:

  • The code and the copy that goes with it is unmissable, while a URL or phone number might stick out less.
  • QR codes on a print piece use that tactile presence to attract attention, and lead the customer journey that continues online.
  • Having QR codes turns print into a high-value communications tool that links to websites, videos, social media, or other digital experiences.
  • It requires only one action (a scan) to activate; not typing a web address or phone number avoids customer mistakes and saves them time.
  • A QR code to action doesn’t need a physical address, email address, or even a device’s location to be turned on in order to be effective – it’s the ultimate first-party data
  • Interactive print – because it is physical as much as it is digital – increases conversion. QR codes on a tactile piece help trigger an emotional response or promote recall, creating opportunities for further engagement or sales.
  • While the CTA remains the same, the QR code can be redirected for a variety of reasons, such as changing your offer or targeting another segment of your audience.
  • Tracking and robust analytics allow you to optimize QR code calls to action in your campaigns.
  • Similarly, A/B testing of QR code CTAs also leads to A/B testing and optimizing of microsites and landing pages.
  • QR codes can be used to set up reminders of events, sales, or other limited-time offers, extending the staying power of that effort or campaign.

QR Code Calls to Action Examples

There are dozens of creative and successful ways to use QR codes for your business or organization. With a simple scan by their mobile device, your customers or prospects connect with your message.