QR Codes in Print Marketing: Yay or Nay?

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Almost everyone has most certainly seen those square patterns of black and white dots on posters, in magazines, or on advertising pillars. These squares are known as quick response codes, or in short QR codes. Similarly to barcodes found on packaging, information can be embedded in a QR code. Scanning the code provides rapid, uncomplicated access to internet sites. There is no longer the need to enter the URL into a browser.

How to scan a QR code

In order to be able to view the data embedded in a QR code, you need a smartphone or tablet computer with a camera and QR code scanner app. A suitable app can be downloaded from the respective app store. If both of these conditions are met, the QR code just needs to be scanned using your mobile phone and the embedded information will automatically be displayed on your phone.

The QR code scanner app

There is just one small hurdle to overcome: finding a suitable QR code scanner among the vast number of apps available in app stores. To make scanning a QR code as straightforward as possible, Spectos (GmbH) has developed the Easy QR Code Scanner (Android | iOS). The simple and lean scanner forwards the user automatically to the embedded website. The app is ad-free and easy to navigate.

QR-Code Scanner App

Start screen Easy QR-Code Scanner

Where to find QR codes

Whether on posters, flyers or even on textiles, the possibilities for QR codes are endless.
For example:

  • At home: QR codes can be found on most packaging. These often provide additional information on the purchased product or are the initial step to entry in a competition.Zwei Fragebögen (Patientenmeinung zur Kinder-OP und Gemeinschaftspraxis) mit Feedbackstr Umfrage-Tool
  • At work: even in times of professional networks (e.g. LinkedIn), printed business cards are still very much in use. They have simply been modernized to include features such as QR codes, in which information can be embedded such as the company website. They may even be printed in corporate colors.
QR Code Feedbackstr

Integrated company logo

  • Public spaces or public transport: whether they’re featured on billboards or advertising pillars, QR codes are extremely versatile. At bus or tram stops they can be used to provide timetables, navigation help or even mobile tickets.
  • Retail stores and supermarkets: customers may even find the small black and white squares on invoices, packaging or supermarket shelves, where they can be scanned for additional information such as product videos or a breakdown of ingredients.
  • Restaurants: QR codes are often printed on menus or table displays. These codes may lead to a survey on service quality or discount voucher for your next visit.


Chart use of QR code

Where are QR codes most frequently used in EU countries? [Source]

Successful use of QR codes

Why waste time entering long complicated links into your (mobile) internet browser? Scanning a QR code is not only more time efficient but it also helps you avoid annoying typos. It also saves print area and can be used as a direct link to further information on the company website.
The use of QR codes simplifies advertising monitoring. The marketing department can analyze information gathered at the time of scanning and is able to track the number of times the code has been scanned by users. These findings can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. QR codes don’t have to be just black and white, they can be creatively designed to arouse the customer’s curiosity and encourage them to scan the code. You may choose to integrate the company logo into the QR code or an alternative image. The possibilities are endless.

What to keep in mind when using QR codes

Before printing and publishing a QR code, it is imperative to test it in order to make sure it functions faultlessly. A non-functional QR code is unprofessional and may be damaging to your consumer image. It is also necessary to ensure that the QR code directs the user to a mobile-optimized website. If QR codes are too small, it may be difficult for the mobile device to detect and read the code. Positioning of the code is equally important. QR codes should be easily visible and if possible positioned at eye level. A QR code placed just above ground level or at a height of 3 meters is of no use to anyone.

How not to use QR codes

Unlike the QR code pictured above, you should position your QR code where the user does not come into danger. QR codes on airplanes or underground stations are normally useless because mobile phones tend to have a very weak network reception here. QR codes on motorways or buses and trams are likewise a wasteful effort.

QR code useless dangerous

Caution when scanning – Danger! Poster displaying QR code beside train tracks [Source]

The lesson is clear: QR codes can generate added value!

QR codes can be an effective means of advertising, provided they are used creatively and address the relevant target group. A QR code saves the user time because they no longer need to type in long links which means they have fast access to information about a product or service. Due to the rapidly increasing number of smartphone users, the demand for mobile information is also on the rise

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QR codes in print marketing? What are the consumer advantages?

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