Thanks in no small part to their frequent usage during the global pandemic, QR codes are now more widely used than ever before and have become a powerful tool for creating interactive print marketing. QR codes can be easily scanned my any modern smart phone, making your website or sales pitch just a click away on all your print marketing. But what are QR codes? What can QR codes do? Well fear not for this article will reveal all you need to know about how to best incorporate QR codes in your print marketing.
What are QR codes?
QR codes (or Quick Response codes) are similar to bar codes that are used on most retail products. The main difference between the two is how much data they can store. A standard bar code stores data in 1 dimension and up to 30 numbers, a QR code can store information in 2 dimensions with capacity for 7,089 numbers in addition to other points of data. These other data points can include:
- Hyperlinks (usually to a website)
- Contact details (that can be transferred directly to your phone contacts)
- Phone number
- Name and profession
- Business contact details
- Calendar entry
- Mobile app download
- Video links to Webinars
- Check in for businesses (used during the pandemic for contact tracing)
- AND MORE!
QR codes can also allow you to track the success of your print marketing campaign with custom URL codes that can feed into your analytics.
Types of QR Codes
There are two types of QR codes that you can use, each with their own distinct uses:
Static QR Codes: Static QR codes is where the data, usually a URL, is stored directly in the code itself. The more data that you store in this code, the larger and more complicated the QR pattern. These QR codes cannot be changed once they have been printed. For example, you cannot change the URL link in the QR code even if the URL itself changes independently, causing the QR code link to break when scanned. This is not a big deal if the QR code is only meant to be short lived in a flyer with a temporary deal or a static website URL that is not likely to change. These codes are easier to set up and generally get the job done.
Dynamic QR codes: Unlike static QR codes, Dynamtic QR codes use a link shortener to redirect users to the final URL destination, most often a website. Because it’s a redirect link, the shortened link that is in the QR code can remain the same while the redirected link can change. This means you can use the same QR code for multiple marketing projects instead of needing to generate a new code each time. This does involve a little more technical know-how and requires you to be consistently making sure that the redirect link doesn’t break.
How to create QR codes?
QR codes can be created in a number of ways.
Firstly, you can use a QR code generator online. Just google ‘create QR code’ and a number of websites will pop up to help you create your QR code. Most let you create static QR codes for free, but if you want dynamic QR codes or custom designed QR codes, you will usually need to pay a small fee.
If you have access to the Adobe suite you can also generate custom QR codes using InDesign. In InDesign you can also customise the design of the QR code, adding corporate colours, gradients, and other design features. InDesign also allows you to data merge QR codes creating an even more personalised experience for your direct mailing campaigns. If you want to create dynamic QR codes, you should look at using a link shortening service like LinkTree or Bitly. Click on our article link for a step-by-step process of how to create a QR code in InDesign (Guide coming soon!)
Using QR codes in print marketing
So now you have an idea of what QR codes are and how to create them, next we are going to look at how to incorporate them into your current marketing strategy. Remember, the only limit is your imagination. QR codes can be used for anything from digital business cards, product codes, digital tickets, customer tracking and so on. Below is a list of common uses for QR codes in print marketing.
Create interactive experiences
QR codes can be used in any form of print advertising. Adding a QR code creates a physical link to a digital world. It can link to anything like a YouTube Video, download a game, link to websites, a discount code, and so on. By utilizing QR codes in your print marketing you are bringing an interactive element for your customers that can enhance the sales experience.
Elaborate on your brand
In the same vein of creating an interactive experience, QR codes allow you to provide more information on your brand or product that would otherwise have been lost due to the physical size restrictions of print media. QR codes can let you keep the text on your flyers to a minimum and then interested customers can scan the link to find out more.
Convenience for your audience
Before QR codes, it was difficult to get customers to type out your URL from a print marketing piece. The likelihood for human error when typing out the URL also added a barrier for entry for interested customers. QR codes now make following URL links a simple scan and click, giving a more seamless transition from print media to digital.
Track campaign success with analytics
QR codes, especially dynamic QR codes, can allow you to track the success of your print marketing materials, just as you would with social media or your website. Using unique URLs with QR codes can feed directly into your analytics so you can accurately track the success of your print marketing campaigns.
QR codes, as we have seen in their wide spread use during the pandemic, can been a powerful tool for collecting data. If you have a survey that you would like your customer to fill out you can create a QR code with a link that you can send on flyers to these customers or have printed QR codes displayed in your place of business.
Top 5 tips when using QR codes in print marketing
#1 Avoid broken links.
A QR code that doesn’t work is a QR code that will hurt your business’s reputation. If a customer tries to scan your broken code, they can end up feeling frustrated when it doesn’t work and will be less likely to trust your QR codes again in future. Always triple check that your codes work both on your screen when designing them, and on your final printed materials. It’s doesn’t matter how pretty or cool the code looks if its base functionality is compromised.
#2 Choose an appropriate size
Make sure your QR codes are always easy to see and only use high resolution QR codes when designing your print marketing. A good rule of thumb for size is to go no smaller than 2cm x 2cm (or 1.2 inch square for you Americans) on print marketing like flyers and brochures. Scale up as appropriate for bigger print items like posters, banners and billboards. If you have any questions about what size you should make your QR code, contact our design team who have experience in print marketing.
#3 Keep the QR code design consistent with your brand
The QR code should be able to represent your brand through its visual appearance. This can be achieved using brand colours, logos, background imagery and graphics. Custom designed QR codes can help to enhance user engagements and create a stronger connection to your brand. Just remember to avoid too much clutter around the QR code as this can have a negative visual impact and may even make the QR code itself difficult to scan.
#4 Include a call to action
Having a QR code by itself does not incentivise customers to scan them. By adding a simple ‘Scan me’ or ‘scan to reveal our latest offer’ can go a long way in helping with user engagement. Make sure that your call to action and the destination of the QR code line up. Don’t tell them to scan to see your latest offer and the QR code takes them to the website home page where they have to navigate to find the deals. This leads to a poor user experience and can also make the customer feel that you lied to them. Be consistent and be honest with what awaits them when they scan in your QR code.
#5 Keep the scanning time below 15 seconds
People’s most precious resource is time, so you better not waste it. If a QR code takes too long to scan and load, the customer will leave and have a bad user experience. These 15 seconds includes taking the phone out of their pocket, open the scanning app, scanning the code and how long it takes to load. In reality, you have at most 5 seconds for your link to load so make sure that it is optimised, especially for mobile devices.
How we can help you with QR codes
Here at Q Print Group we have years of print marketing and print design experience. We can design and customise the perfect QR code for your print marketing campaign. Contact us today to get started!