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Once considered a fleeting novelty, the pixelated box known as the QR code has become the touch-free symbol of the pandemic. QR stands for Quick Response, and the pixelated box is a two-dimensional matrix barcode. Users scan the QR code with a smartphone and get instant access to a PDF, landing page, video, text message conversation, or any number of other platforms.

QR codes were invented in Japan over 25 years ago and were initially used to track parts in vehicle manufacturing. Adoption throughout Asia is high, with 50% of users in China scanning QR codes several times a week for mobile payments, health monitoring, authenticating users, and various other applications. Although widespread throughout the world, QR codes failed to catch on in North America until the pandemic. Initially, smartphones required a specialized app, but now, most operating systems include a QR reader.

Thanks in part to the pandemic, QR codes are everywhere in the U.S. today. Consumer resistance dissipated once people learned how easily they could scan the codes with their mobile devices. The codes are on labels, cereal boxes, flyers, receipts, signs, shop doors, and restaurant tables. What was once a tech afterthought has become a powerful tool for marketing and commerce.

The increased adoption of QR codes is an incredible opportunity for marketers to engage with users and offer better customer support. Here are just some ways to use a QR code for marketing:

Direct Mail and Print Ads: Use a code on a flyer, postcard, or print advertisement to take the recipient to your digital platforms, newsletter, or the purchase section of your website.

Contest Entry – Direct users to enter a contest or giveaway.

Connect Salespeople Instantly: Connect buyers directly to salespeople via text message for a faster response and quicker sales.

Coupons: Have users capture a coupon code for in-person or online purchases.

Curbside and Carryout Transactions – Deploy a code system for no-contact merchandise pickup and carryout orders.

Product Label: Put QR codes on labels, leading to web pages with instructions and product information.

Virtual Guide: Place QR codes throughout a shopping mall, museum, park, or other venues with multiple points of interest. QR codes can provide entry tickets, information, and directions to visitors.

Reduce Packaging – Make instructions, warranties, and paperwork accessible via QR

Social Media: Send visitors to a landing page with links to all of your social media platforms.

Pop-up Banners: Place on storefront banners so users can scan for menus, product details, or store information.

Customer Reviews and Surveys: Invite customers to submit a review or complete a feedback survey by linking them straight to your business review portal.

Tradeshow Banners and Displays – Offer incentives, discounts, or swag to tradeshow attendees who scan your code.

Promotional Items: Add to promotional items like coffee mugs, mousepads, and calendars. The code can direct users to your website or product page.

Business Cards, Name Tags, and Handouts – Connect customers to your website, portfolio, social media, products, services, and more.

Greeting Cards: Send unique greetings to clients in a YouTube video or audio file.

With so many innovative ways to use this technology, QR codes are likely to become an integral part of interacting with brands in a post-coronavirus world.

It’s Batman — no actually it is a QR Code — in the sky. It was upon watching a video of a QR code in the sky being used by a company promoting a game while introducing new characters that we were inspired to speak on the topic. We find that we are now using QR codes for all clients and we love the analytic data on the backend.