What is a QR Code?

A QR code, or quick response code, is a combination of black and white squares typically used to store URLs. You can scan these codes using your smartphone’s camera to access the content.

There are two different types of QR code you can print:

  • Static QR code
  • Dynamic QR code

Static QR Code – A static QR code is fixed and cannot be edited after creation. These codes are often large and complex since they store more information.

Great for: online bookings/reservations, contest landing pages, menus, coupon codes, and invitations

Dynamic QR Code – A dynamic QR code can be edited after creation. This means you can change the pathway where the code directs to something new.

Great for: website landing pages, social media channels, maps, videos, payments, and product listings

What is a QR Code Used For?

There are a ton of great ways to use QR codes beyond just linking to your website. Here are some ideas!

Social Channels

Social Channels

You can use QR codes to direct customers to one of your social channels, As long as you have a strong presence on the platform, this could be a lucrative way to increase engagement and even sales. In fact, according to Marketing Dive, 90% of people buy from brands they follow on social media.

scanning a QR code

Landing Pages

Are you using a QR code for a contest? Create a landing page on your website. The copy on the page can say something like “Thanks for Entering!” so the customer knows their QR code scanned properly.

restaurant menu on QR code

Menus

Restaurants use QR codes to direct customers to digital PDFs of their menus. This was popular during the COVID-19 pandemic since it cut down on hand-to-hand interaction.

chick-fil-a

Curbside Pickup

Chick-fil-A is one fast food brand that’s using their QR codes for curbside pickup. You can place a mobile order ahead of time, scan the code when you arrive, and your food will be brought out to your vehicle.

Invitations

Invitations

Do you have a live event around the corner? Use your QR code to direct customers to an evite listing the date, time, and location.

scrolling through smartphone

Account Information

Isn’t it the worst when Hulu or Netflix kicks you out? Some streaming sites are turning to QR codes, but you can also use them to log in to other accounts like your bank, insurance, or car payment.

QR code on a coffee cup

Coupons/Discounts

Everyone loves a good deal! When customers scan your QR code, they can get an exclusive discount or maybe even a cool freebie.

person driving with GPS

Maps/Locations

Let’s say you’re selling concert tickets or tickets to your new haunted house. Visitors can scan your QR code to see a map, or maybe a birds-eye view of the seating at your venue.

QR code payment

Payments

As long as it’s secure, a QR code can direct to a payment page. Once scanned, he user will have the option to either enter payment details or pay through an app like Google Pay.

hotel reservations with QR code

Reservations

Hotels, restaurants, and airlines can use a static QR code for reservations. This is more convenient than going through the entire website trying to find the right page to book your day and time.

YouTube on smartphone

Videos

HubSpot reports that 86% of marketers believe their videos help generate leads. If you have a cool video on your YouTube channel, you can direct customers to it through a QR code.

QR code on a business card

Contact Info

Your QR code can take users directly to your business email or phone number. Now you’ve eliminated a step in reaching out, so they will be more likely to make the effort.

Where Should I Print a QR Code?

If you create a QR code, you should print it on a variety of marketing materials like billboards, magazine ads, posters, business cards, product packaging, banners, and signage. You can also print it on promotional shirts, notebooks, bags, and other items.

Do you have a QR code for your company or brand? Print it on any of these promotional materials!

Tips for Printing QR Codes

QR code printing on a tea tin

It can be tricky to print QR codes. The arrangement of the squares is very precise and can’t be altered. If the design changes or the ink accidentally bleeds, then the technology won’t work.

Avoid any mishaps in printing QR codes by following these tips:

overly busy graphic

Keep the Design Simple

If your design is too busy, it will be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” to find the QR code! Use a simple background and only as much text as needed to get your point across.

match a QR code with the word "scan"

Use the Word “Scan”

“Scan here,” “Scan the QR code,” or “Scan code to view menu” are allgood call-to-actions to print above the code. You want to tell people how it works!

QR code on the cover of a notebook

Flat, Hard Surfaces Are Best

You’ll have the most success printing a QR code on a large, flat, hard surface. Anything rounded or wavy will make it too hard to scan.

ruler measuring 2 inches

2” x 2” or Larger

It’s important for the phone’s camera to find the QR code. With that in mind, you’ll want to print a QR code in an imprint area that’s at least 2” x 2”.

material swatches

Print on Certain Fabrics

If you want to print on fabric such as shirts or bags, look for anything made from nonwoven polyester or nylon. Woven materials have raised stitching that could mess with the QR code.

cup printed with a QR code

Hand Wash Drinkware

A QR code can be printed on coffee mugs, tumblers, water bottles, and plastic cups, but you should never put them in the dishwasher.

OR code printed on a pen

Avoid Small Objects

Since the QR code needs to be scanned, it has to be printed at a big enough size. This makes it almost impossible to print the code on small objects like keychains, pens, or lanyards.

color palette

Black & White Ink

Coinbase may have found success with a colorful QR code, but that’s because it was in a memorable TV ad! When it comes to print materials, you should only use black and white ink for the best results.

Adobe Illustrator logo

Vector Ahead of Time

QR codes are finnicky, and if they are accidentally altered in the print, the technology may not work properly. If you can, vectorize the code before getting it printed on a product.

phone with a QR code on screen

Test It First

How embarrassing would it be if your QR code doesn’t work? Test it before you send it to be printed on an item, and then test it again when the item arrives.

Examples of QR Codes

Seeing is believing! If you’re not sure how to use a QR code, then take a look at these examples.

Boozy Babes mason jars with QR code

Boozy Babes

Boozy Babes is an online store that sells trendy cocktail infusion kits. The ingredients are housed inside custom mason jars printed with a QR code, which takes customers to a delicious drink recipe.

Coinbase QR code commercial
https://adage.com/

Coinbase

A bouncing QR code starred in one of the most memorable Super Bowl Ads of 2022. Anyone who scanned the code received $15 in Bitcoin if they signed up for Coinbase. The commercial was so popular, it ended up crashing the app. 

Nike QR code in store
https://www.businessinsider.ccom/

Nike

Nike stores are set up with signs or mannequins printed with a QR code. Shoppers can scan these codes to try on shoes or apparel in the correct size.

Coca-Cola QR code vending machine
https://www.novemberfive.co/

Coca-Cola

Touchscreen vending machines are popular at movie theaters and entertainment venues. Coca-Cola took the tech to the next level by using QR codes for paying for and dispensing their drinks.

Kellogg's QR code
https://www.thehotiron.com/

Kellogg’s

Kellogg’s aimed to reach a new target demographic for their cereal – single men ages 18 to 35. To get attention, the brand printed QR codes on the back of Crunchy Nut Cereal boxes as part of a marketing campaign. The code took scanners to a video that advocates eating cereal any time since “it’s morning somewhere.”

medical bracelet with QR code
https://www.qrcode-tiger.com/

Clark Memorial Health

Times are changing! Hospitals like Clark Memorial Health in Indiana are now printing QR codes on patient bracelets. This gives the healthcare team quick access to personal information, medical records, allergies, and other vital information.

Chili's offers with QR code
https://www.facebook.com/

Chili’s

Restaurants use QR codes all the time, whether it’s for their menu or to promote drink specials on tabletop signs. They also post coupons on social media like this one from Chili’s. Free chips and salsa? Yes, please!

Zara coupon code on store window
https://www.qrcode-tiger.com/

Zara

When people go window shopping, they don’t always stop inside the store. Zara is hooking more people by advertising their sale with a giant QR code that printed on the outside window pane.

How to Create a QR Code

Because QR codes use precise technology, you need to create them through specific websites. Luckily, you can find a lot of QR code generators online that are totally free!

Use any of the following websites to create your own QR code:

Pros of QR Codes

You should definitely consider using QR codes for your business if you’re not already. There are many strategies to incorporating them into your day-to-day operation.

  • Accessible –Unless you’re a retail store, you probably don’t have a barcode scanner. Now compare that to the 6.6 billion people who have a smartphone they can use to scan a QR code.

  • Easy to Create – Visit websites like Shopify, Canva, or Flowcode to create a QR code for cheap, or even for free! These websites make it easy with step-by-step generators.

  • Speed The average attention span is only 8.25 seconds. Experts believe it’s only going to get shorter in the future. Luckily, QR codes give people instant access to the information they need.

  • More Data –You can store more data on a QR code than a barcode since it can be scanned either vertically or horizontally. The average QR code can store 7,089 numbers and 4,296 letters.

  • Saves You Money – When you use a QR code in lieu of printouts, you are ultimately saving money on all the paper and ink you’d otherwise be using. This is just one way this technology can save your business money.

  • Engaging – For the most part, people enjoy scanning and using QR codes. It makes visiting the website or page seem like a gift waiting to be opened!

  • Measurable – Because the QR code is connected to a web page, it’s easy for you to measure it’s performance. You’ll be able to see the ROI in real-time and make a decision as to whether to continue using the code going forward.

Cons of QR Codes

As great as QR codes are to use, there are also some downsides to the technology. The disadvantages of QR codes include:

  • Privacy Breaches – In 2022, the FBI (yes, that FBI) released a warning that cybercriminals are tampering with QR codes to steal user data. Only scan a QR code from a company you trust.

  • Not Always Preferrable  – Restaurants faced a lot of backlash from The Washington Post, The Atlantic, City Journal, and other publications for their QR code menus. Diners complained that it’s more difficult to peruse the food and drink selections from their phones.

  • Requires Smartphone – It may not seem like it, but some people don’t have a smartphone. As such, they won’t be able to view the content from your QR code.

  • May Be Confusing – Not everyone is familiar with QR codes and might not know how to scan it. This is why it’s important that you use some kind of copy with the code.

  • Easy to Overlook – A QR code is small and easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. That’s why it’s always best to print a QR code so it’s large and noticeable.

  • Relies on Camera & Internet – It could be a glitch with the technology, the user’s camera is dirty, or the internet isn’t working in the area, but there are times when a QR code could fail. People who can’t access the code may get frustrated and end up giving up.

  • Kind of Ugly – Let’s face it…the QR code isn’t going to win any beauty contests! These codes look kind of gross, and if you print them on a shirt or bag, they may not get too much wear.

How Does a QR Code Work?

a person scanning a QR code on a box

QR codes work just like any other barcode, but the difference is they can be scanned horizontally or vertically to deliver the information. You can also use your smartphone to scan the QR code, which makes the one you create very accessible to everyone.

Your business should only be using a QR code if the pathway leads to a mobile-friendly page. If your website is not optimized for smartphones, it may be wise to put this strategy on the backburner for now.

Do QR Codes Expire?

scanning jewelry QR code

QR codes do not have an expiration date. The only reason they’ll stop working is if the company chooses to delete the content or make the code inactive.

What is the Future of QR Codes?

using QR code to make payment

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the QR code had reached its peak to accommodate the hands-free lifestyle. Restaurants received a lot of criticism for their digital menus, which makes you wonder, what’s in store for the QR code?

According to QSR Magazine, “contextual digital experiences are poised to be the future of QR-driven marketing.” This is a fancy way of saying as long as the code is used in a creative, useful way, there’s no reason why this technology will disappear in the future.

QR Codes: Facts & Statistics

  • The QR code was invented b a Japanese company named Denso Wave in the 1990s.

  • An estimated 7 million QR codes were scanned in 2022.

  • There was a 433% increase in QR code usage between 2021 and 2022.

  • 11 million households in the United States scanned a QR code in 2020.

  • It’s predicated that 30% of smartphone users will use QR codes for payments by 2025.

  • 54% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 29 have scanned a QR code.

  • 14% of U.S. adults find QR codes difficult to use.

  • 75% of Americans are willing to use more QR codes in the future.

Final Thoughts

Good advertisers know one of the best ways to reach an audience is through their smartphones. You’re only helping out your business if you have a mobile-friendly website and incorporate QR codes into your operation and marketing.

Are you ready to print QR codes on signs, banners, shirts, and other promotional items? Reach out to the team at Quality Logo Products to get started!

References

Howarth, J. (2022, September 16). Time Spent Using Smartphones. Retrieved from, https://explodingtopics.com/blog/smartphone-usage-stats

Schulfer, S. (2020, September 14). What is a QR Code? QR Code Meaning & Example. Retrieved from, https://www.sproutqr.com/blog/what-is-a-qr-code

Williams, R. (2020, May 5). 90% of People Buy From Brands They Follow on Social Media, Study Stays. Retrieved from, https://www.marketingdive.com/news/90-of-people-buy-from-brands-they-follow-on-social-media-study-says/577882/

Hayes, A. What Video Marketers Should Know in 2022, According to Wyzowl Research. Retrieved from, https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/state-of-video-marketing-new-data

QR Code Tiger. (2022, November 3). QR Code Usage Statistics 2022: 443% Scan Increase and 438% Generation Boost. Retrieved from, https://www.qrcode-tiger.com/qr-code-statistics-2022-q1

Heinzman, A. (2022, October 3). How Do QR Codes Work? Retrieved from, https://www.reviewgeek.com/131221/how-do-qr-codes-work/

Skiba, K. (2022, January 19). Beware of Fake QR Codes. Retrieved from, https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2021/qr-codes.html

Gundaniya, N. Everything You Need to Know About QR Code Payments. Retrieved from, https://www.digipay.guru/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-qr-code-payments/

Perez, A. (2011, July 4). What Can Kellogg’s QR Code Campaign Teach Us About Marketing? Retrieved from, https://tweakyourbiz.com/posts/what-can-kelloggs-qr-code-campaign-teach-us-about-marketing

Gartenberg, C. (2022, February 13). Coinbase’s Bouncing QR Code Super Bowl Ad Was So Popular It Crashed the App. Retrieved from, https://www.theverge.com/2022/2/13/22932397/coinbases-qr-code-super-bowl-ad-app-crash

Rodrigue, E. (2022, September 21). What is a QR Code + How Does It Work? Everything Marketers Should Know. Retrieved from, https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/16088/everything-a-marketer-should-know-about-qr-codes.aspx

Checkout.com. A Quick Guide to QR Code Payments. Retrieved from, https://www.checkout.com/blog/post/a-quick-guide-to-qr-code-payments

Coull, H. (2022, November 4). The Ultimate QR Code Sizing Guide – What Size Should a QR Code Be? Retrieved from, https://blinq.me/blog/what-size-should-a-qr-code-be

Marketing Charts. (2021, July 22). Majority of Youth Report Having Click on a Marketing-Related QR Code. Retrieved from, https://www.marketingcharts.com/digital/mobile-phone-117723

YouGove. (2021, June 28). Are QR Codes Leaving Older Americans Behind? Retrieved from, https://today.yougov.com/topics/technology/articles-reports/2021/06/28/qr-codes-leaving-older-americans-behind

Zauderer, S. (2022, November 15). Average Human Attention Span By Age (Infographic). Retrieved from, https://www.crossrivertherapy.com/average-human-attention-span

Moskow, L. (2022, December 6). Don’t Close the Door on QR Codes Just Yet. Retrieved from, https://www.qsrmagazine.com/outside-insights/dont-close-door-qr-codes-just-yet

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