Quick Response (QR) codes are small, two-dimensional matrix codes (a type of barcode) that can be scanned by a camera to acquire information. These days, they’re commonly on flyers, online, and just about anywhere someone with a smartphone can scan them. They’re also at the heart of many POS systems for quick and contactless exchange of funds.

QR codes actually aren’t new at all. They were developed by Japanese company Denso Wave in 1994. They were created to help them track vehicles in the manufacturing process. This led to QR codes first being experimented with among the Japanese public. With technology advances in the early 2000s allowing smartphones to read QR codes, they caught on quickly on a global scale.

Their portability and accessibility make QR a potent tool for both attractive and satisfying customers. Smart networkers and marketers use them to promote a brand, product. or event.

Despite not being a modern technology, QR codes are central in many modern solutions. Used creatively, they can help you connect, send you more leads, and help your bottom line. Here are some examples.

Business cards

One of the most popular ways to use QR codes in business is by placing them on your business card or linking to a digital business card. The QR code can be generated to create a link to your business website or a specific landing page. This can provide the customers with your contact information and more details about what you can offer. This is ideal to hand out when networking at events or when introducing yourself in job interviews (you can link to your personal page or LinkedIn) to stand out from the crowd. They’re also a fundamental element of many digital business cards.

use QR codes when networking at events
Cozendo / Pixabay

Adding a QR code is a form of a call to action placement (CTA). This is a simple and effective way to encourage potential customers to engage and drive traffic to your business website. There are around 294 million people with access to a smartphone in the US and more than 6 billion globally, so adding a QR code is a great way to promote your brand to a huge audience with easy access to it.

Download apps

Another way to improve engagement is to create a QR code that will direct consumers to a link to download your app. As customers will be taken straight to the app instead of having to search for it, they are more likely to download it. Overall, this creates a positive consumer experience.

You can even customize your QR code to match your business branding, further improving brand awareness. There are currently around 1.8 million apps on the App Store. So using a QR code in your marketing strategy is a creative way to get your brand name out there, boost your app downloads, and grow your business.

Event registration and badges

An efficient way to use QR codes in business is on event badges and tickets. Part of so-called event tech. Creating a contactless ticket for a conference or exhibition will allow guests to register and enter quickly, preventing backed-up queues and keeping out those without proper permissions. Works for airlines and transport, too – basically anything that requires systematic entry.

QR codes on badges are more functional than a standard ticket and can be a great way to improve engagement. You can use them for allowing access to breakout sessions, for tracking who goes where, and for entrants to connect with one another.

Send customers to your social media

Of the world’s population, 53.6% now uses social media, and for nearly 2 1/2 hours a day. This means, whether SMB/SME or major corporate, you’re looking to funnel leads and maintain active customers through your Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc.

Creating a QR code to direct consumers to your social media accounts is a cost-effective way to boost brand awareness. Firstly, identify where your target audience is. When you know the best place to reach them, use a QR code to send them straight to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn account.

Although it’s easy to direct customers to your social media, the content that you post must be relevant and engaging to be worthy of reading. This will help your business to gain follows, views, and shares of your content.

Marketing materials

Try adding a QR code to any marketing material that you use in your business, such as brochures, leaflets, or posters. Try not to overwhelm your audience with lots of written information. Instead, keep it simple and place a QR code that will take consumers straight to your marketing channels.

So many promotional materials are thrown away by the public without even being read. Adding a “Scan Me” QR code entices consumers to take action, making it more likely you’ll generate engagement and leads. This is also a measurable tool to see how well your printed marketing material is performing with your target audience.

Gain customer feedback

Emailing or handing out customer feedback forms can be time-consuming. Instead, encourage your customers to complete a survey by scanning a QR code. This makes the survey accessible to a wider online audience.

Feedback can be gathered after a customer’s experience with a product or event by printing a QR code on receipts, printed materials, or packaging. With the information from this feedback, you can better inform your business strategy and make improvements that truly respond to customer needs.

Product packaging

Including a QR code on your product packaging can be beneficial to your customers and create loyalty and trust with them. The QR code may give buyers a PDF or a video with instructions on how to use the product.

QR codes can also be added onto food products. They can direct customers to a full ingredients list, get them to sign up for a loyalty or points scheme, or even to enter a competition.

Coca-Cola, for instance, created QR codes on its packaging as part of its marketing strategy. The QR code gave customers the option to watch exclusive videos, see new promotions, or view the latest campaign information. This was designed to monitor customer engagement with different content.

Electronic invoicing

In the shift to more sustainable business practices, going paperless is pivotal. Invoicing is notorious for the unnecessary amount of paper it creates, though it’s still a common practice in accounting and billing the world over. Over 70% of invoices are still sent by paper.

Companies that want to save the paper, save the trees, and centralize their billing in a secure digital, cloud-based system are moving to e-invoicing, or digital invoicing. Rather than sending a paper invoice by mail, a simple email or SMS can send a QR code, which leads to the invoice. Pay electronically, and then save in a central system or integrate with a package like QuickBooks, and you’ve wiped out the paper. You get better data security, too. Offer this to your customers and they may also follow your lead. Save the trees!

Build your email list

Using a QR code is an effective way to build email subscriber lists. QR codes can be added onto any promotional material and when scanned, will take customers to a website landing page where they can enter their email and subscribe.

This is a great way to encourage customers to scan the QR code is to add a CTA that ultimately provides your customer with something of value. This could be a discount, e-ticket, or exclusive content. This will help to gain loyal, repeat customers and grow your brand.

QR codes: Simply effective and easily recognizable

QR codes are cost-effective, easily measurable, and highly engaging. They also don’t carry the risk of new tech, as they’ve been with us for almost three decades. They simply work, and their appearance is becoming ubiquitous.

If they’re good for Starbucks, Spotify, and Facebook, they’re likely good for your business.

With the contactless element of QR codes becoming important than ever following the pandemic, there is no better time to use them liberally. They’re a low-/no-overhead solution to build connections and retain those you’ve acquired.