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The Value Of QR Codes For Small Businesses

The Value Of QR Codes For Small Businesses

Overview

QR Codes are a great way of connecting the physical world to the internet. QR Codes are great to quickly and easily bring traffic to your site or social media with the option of tracking interactions for some types of QR Codes.

Small businesses can use QR Codes to:

  1. Use QR Codes to drive loyalty card memberships on flyers, posters, and shop windows.
  2. Display QR Codes on posters and flyers to drive visitors to social media platforms or your website/app.
  3. Apply unique QR Codes on receipts and labels to collect valuable customer feedback or reviews.
  4. Have a QR Code that direct customers to your website's cafe food menu - with bonus online ordering options.
  5. Display a Wifi Sign in QR Code for quick access to your business Wifi.
  6. Add Contact Information QR Code to your business cards.
  7. Show a "Deals Of The Day" QR Code in your show window to help increase engagement.
  8. Showcase more products in your shop virtually with QR Codes to online products.
  9. Apply QR Code stickers to your products that direct customers to product information or How To's.
  10. Display Call QR Code on desktop website contact page for quick calling action.
  11. Accept online payments with a QR Codes, making it easier for small business owners to offer touchless payments without needing to purchase any new equipment.
  12. Use a QR code to send customers directly to your Facebook Messenger to chat.
  13. Provide a QR Code to display directions to your business.
  14. Create a in store QR Code scavenger hunt for both kids and adults to encourage online engagement.
  15. Use QR codes for guerrilla marketing at events, on stickers or placards, on company vehicles, or on merchandise such as T-shirts.

What are QR Codes?

What's black and white and read all over? 20 years ago the answer was a newspaper, but times have changed. Now the answer is…a QR code.

A QR code is a 2-D barcode that can be scanned by a smart phone’s camera and transfer information. Based on the type of code it is, it might direct the viewer to a website, make a phone call, deliver a vCard or more.

Airports use their own QR code system for faster scanning of your tickets, car manufacturers use QR Codes to track parts throughout the factories, and some libraries use Bar Codes (older QR Code system) to track books being hired and returned.

You can use these QR Code images for whatever you like, also commercially.

Kind in mind, not everyone has a QR Reader...

QR Codes aren’t always the best way to interact with your audience. Some people might not know how to use a QR Code or might not take the extra step to pull out their phone to read it. And, believe it or not, some people still don’t have a smartphone!

This Is A Qr Code
This Is A QR Code

What type of QR Codes are there?

Text Content

This allows the scanner to view the text content in the QR Code.

Website URL

This is the most commonly used QR Code. This allows the scanner to view the URL that can be pointing to any website on the web.

Contact Information (vCard)

This contains contact information that allows the scanner to quickly add the contact information to their phone's contact system.

Event Information (vCalendar)

Just like the vCard, the vCalendar allows the scanner to quickly add an event to their phone's calendar.

Important: vCalendar information embedded in a QR Code will often result in a QR Code too dense for many mobile phones to read. Keep it simple.

SMS Commands

This allows the scanner to send an SMS message with a prefilled message to the number in the QR Code.

Phone Commands

This allows the scanner to quickly call the number in the QR Code.

WiFi Signin

This allows the scanner to sign into your WiFi network automatically once they scan the code.

Wifi Scan Example
Wifi Scan Example
Wifi Qr Code
An example of a bright Free Wifi QR Code sign for small businesses

What are Dynamic QR Codes?

The most common meaning of Dynamic QR Code is the content of a QR Code cannot be changed once generated, meaning once you download the QR Code image and/or print it, it does not change.

What is sometimes referred to as a Dynamic QR Code, is a QR Code pointing to a static URL that hosts the actual content (e.g. the real URL). The hosted content can be changed after the QR Code has been printed. Or, be redirected to the new URL of the new content. These are often long-lived QR Codes.

The other less used meaning of a Dynamic "Generated" QR Code is a code that is generated on a computer/phone but is not downloaded or printed - allowing the code to be changed multiple times. These are often short-lived QR Codes.

Tracking QR Codes usage

By default, there is no simple way to track when someone scans a QR Code. It takes some clever workarounds to be able to track interaction with some of the content of the QR Codes.

Text Content

There is no easy way to automatically track this type of QR Code content. The only way of the top of my head would be tracked Shop coupon codes with the text that a scanner will have to manually add to their checkout cart - however, there are easier ways to track coupons with QR Codes.

Website URL

The most popular QR Code as links can be tracked multiple ways.

Being a URL link, you can track this in fours ways:

  • Adding UTM Tags
  • Using coupons within the URL
  • Dedicated landing pages
  • Manually entered tracked information
Can you think of more?
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Please leave any suggestionsx

Adding UTM tags to your URLs

If you have a static URL to your own website, you can add UTM Tags to help track where that scanner came from. If you are using flyers, you might put in different campaign content depending on the flyers location or even the flyers coupon.

If you are using dynamic URLs with a redirect URL, the QR Code URL does not need to have UTM tags within it. However, the redirected link should contain the UTM tags. This allows the QR Code to appear smaller and less "messy" and the URL to appear clean and short.

Note: Browser Adblockers and privacy extensions may stop UTM tags from working as they block Google Analytics completely.

Adding coupons to your product URLs

Some online shopping systems allow you to add coupons automatically by visiting a URL. The URL could be pointing to a product, the shop page, or even a sales page. By adding a coupon to the URL, you can bypass Adblockers blocking the UTM Tags while encouraging people to scan the code.

Dedicated QR Codes to dedicated landing pages

In a rare situation, you might have a page created just for a single QR Code. If you have Google Analytics installed, you will be able to track the visitors to that page even without the need for UTM Tags as long as the page is not used for any other marketing campaign.

Manually entered tracked information

Similar to the Dedicated Landing Pages, you would have a form where you would automatically or manually collect tracking information such as contact details, location and emails.

Contact information (vCard Or Mecard)

There are 2 ways to track interaction with the content of a vCard/Mecard. The two main fields in a vCard/Mecard of value are the phone field and the HomePage field.

Phone tracking

The only way to track this is with number tracking. However, this might not be worth the cost for the number of times someone would call you through their contacts.

HomePage tracking

This is just like the Website URL QR Code. No point repeating myself here - see Website URL above.

Event information (vCalendar)

The vCalendar allows the scanner to quickly add an event to their phone's calendar.

The only field in the vCalendar of value is the description field where you could put coupons or URLs. No point repeating myself here about these - see Website URL above.

Important: vCalendar information embedded in a QR Code will often result in a QR Code too dense for many mobile phones to read. Keep it simple.

You may be better of using a URL where the scanner can select which way to add the event to their calendar. Google and Apple have different ways to add events to their systems.

SMS commands

Just like the vCard phone field, you would need a tracked number, however, the message content could be prefilled to contain a code or information unique to that QR Code. This message content can be edited before being sent so this may not be 100% reliable.

Phone commands

No point repeating myself here - see vCard Phone Tracking above.

WiFi Signin

Sadly, there is no way to track interactions from the QR Code.

Creative QR Code usage ideas

Encourage reviews using a QR Code

Some businesses are using QR Codes to encourage customers to leave reviews. They may attach a tag with a QR Code to the item purchased (or add it to a product’s paperwork or packaging).

QR Code for each single review platform.

It would include both a QR Code and a message saying something like, “Scan code to rate us on Yelp.” When the customer scans the QR Code on their phone, they’re taken to the relevant review page for that product or review platform.
If the website is your own, you could UTM tags - however, using UTM tags for Yelp or Google My Business would not work.

Dynamic QR Codes to a single review platform

Just like above, instead of a static URL, you would have a URL that can be edited to redirect to the product or review platform. You might want to collect more reviews on a platform that is lacking even though your other review platforms have heaps of reviews.

Single QR Code to a feedback form to further lead to the preferred review platform + UTM Tag

You may want to collect feedback instead of reviews. Create a feedback form on your site, add some UTM tags and create the QR Code to be scanned. If someone is rating your product/business/service highly, you could create a popup to request they leave their feedback on a review platform instead.
This is also a good chance to resell to these customers as they are already happy and on your website!

Locations to use a "Review" Us QR Code

You now have your Review QR Code, but getting it out there depends on your business and industry. If you get the placement right, you’ll have your review link in front of someone at the exact right moment. That means conversion, that means feedback, and that means reacting. That’s how businesses grow.

Leave Feedback Example
Leave Feedback Example

Storefronts, windows, tables, and doors

For physical locations such as restaurants or beauty parlours, you could display the review QR Code on the door or the front desk counter. Sometimes even mentioning to the happy customer before they leave to quickly scan the code will allow them to leave the review as they are walking or even later at home.

Receipts

If possible and relevant, you could have your QR Code printed on your Receipts so that they can leave the review at any time. If your receipt system allows it, your dynamically generated QR Codes could be unique to each person with the receipt ID for better tracking.

Emails

You can display the QR Code (and maybe the link) within your thank you or product followup emails. Your QR Codes could be unique to each person for better tracking.

Thank You Flyers/Packages

With your products or packages, you could have a small flyer that displays your QR Code allowing them to quickly leave their feedback! Your QR Codes could be unique to each person for better tracking.

Qr Code Rate Coffee
QR Codes on coffee cups that leads your scanners to rate your coffee!

Touchless menus & ordering

When a guest scans a QR Code for a digital menu, they’re redirected to a mobile-optimized website with the published menu. If touchless ordering is integrated, guests choose items from the digital menu to add to a cart. Submitting the order either sends the contents of that cart directly to a server or creates a QR Code for the server to scan. Either way, the server sends the order to the kitchen and that’s that.

You could have a single QR Code to the whole menu or online shop, or single QR Codes in a "physical shop" that hold no physical items.

Qr Code Menu
QR Code menu on table restaurants! A non-contactless form of ordering using QR Codes that links to the menu!

QR Code to call me

Your sales funnel might be for someone to directly call you and skip the website completely. You can use the Phone type to generate the QR Code for this purpose. They will scan the code and be able to quickly call you. Saves a heap of time trying to tap out the phone number.

You could use this phone number QR Code in flyers, business cards, on support information, etc.

Desktop Version Qr Code Call Me
Desktop Version QR Code "Call Me" Example

What we also did was create a QR code to appear only on the desktop version of our contact webpage so that visitors can quickly move from computer to phone to call us.

QR Codes in business cards

It can be personal contact information in the form of a vCard or a link to your website contact page. Or it could be the QR Code of your phone number for them to quickly call you.

If you want to save on paper, you could create a "Digital Business Card" that holds your QR code for the person to scan right there and then.

Qr Code On Business Card
Qr Code On Business Card

QR Codes in brochures, flyers, and advertisements

A good way to get your service or business discover in the offline world is to create a brochure or flyer with a QR Code. This QR Code can link to a website, coupon or even contest. Make something interesting and valuable to your customers. You want to get them excited about what you can offer so make sure to include some explanations about why they should scan the QR Code you are providing.

Qr Code
In an effort to boost tourism the Xinhua village in China built a giant QR code from 130,000 trees so it can be scanned by passing planes.

Events & attendance

Use a QR Code on event materials (flyers, posters, banners etc) that leads to a virtual version of your event packet and allows attendees to travel light. You could include an e-ticket, travel directions, map, handouts and any other relevant information your guests may need about the even.

Taking attendance using QR Codes is a simple process. And it’s useful for virtually any event that needs to keep tabs on who and how many people attend. Every time the code is scanned, it records all the details needed from them that they enter, and can put them into a database for someone to look at later.

Checking in & reservations

QR Codes also expedite the entrance journey at hotels and restaurants, along with the check-in process at events. It’s similar to taking attendance. A QR Code is scanned every time someone enters the venue, but it’s the other side of the coin. Instead of every attendee personally scanning one central QR Code, each attendee has their own QR Code which is scanned upon their arrival.

Check In Qr Code Example
Check In QR Code Example

Each attendee’s QR Code is usually provided to them via email or on a ticket before the event or reservation. When a staff member scans their code, the unique information encoded in it is checked against a database of tickets sold or reservations made. If it matches, the attendee is admitted to the event, the hostess is notified that they’re ready to be sat, or they’re shown to their room.

It’s an ultra-efficient way to cut down queue times at big events, lobbies, front desks, and host/hostess stands. And because the codes are one-time-use and contain simple read-only information, they’re simply static QR Codes.

Combine your physical and online shop with QR Codes

Creative designs using QR Codes

Get funky with your QR Code design. QR codes allow a little wiggle room, meaning that you can “hack” the code itself.

A customized QR Code can drive 30% more scans than traditional black-and-white QR codes.

This is a good chance to add your branding to your QR Code!

Always be sure to test your QR code before printing up a few thousand copies, however.

Custom Colours Qr Code
Custom Colour QR Code (Feedback URL)
Instagram Qr Code
Instagram QR Code
Custom Logo Qr Code
Custom Logo QR Code
Qr Code Tshirt
QR Code on a T-Shirt - Walk around the shop with one of those on!

How to access your QR Scanner on your phone

If you have one of the latest phones, you will have it already installed and set up ready to go.

On iPhones, there is even a QR Code option on the Control Center when users swipe up on the screen. You can also use your Camera App to automatically scan QR codes.

On Android, Google Lens or Google Smart Assistant is responsible for scanning QR Codes seamlessly which, if you do not have installed, can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

How to generate a QR Code

QR codes are free to generate with heaps of free tools online. Even those savvy in Google Sheets can bulk create QR Codes.

But we did some testing and can recommend these:

Have a QR Code Generator you love?
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Please leave any suggestionsx

Costs may occur when you apply "dynamic urls" for tracking your QR Codes with some online QR Code Generators.

Summary

QR Codes can be very powerful in combination with some clever tactics with your website - they are a great time saver and can speed any process along nicely. Having a nicely designed QR Code will help get your QR Code scanned, and be sure the code can be scanned if the code is layered on images or coloured.

What creative ideas have you used with QR Codes before?

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