• Carol Sours

Don't Call it a Comeback - QR Codes on Trend for 2020

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

A decade ago QR codes were all the rage. Nearly every marketer used the new, shiny, “techie” tool on campaigns as a quick hit to track metrics and add value to campaigns. Trouble was, the value was not always there, and the way codes were used took some crazy turns. Consider the ad campaign that placed QR codes on posters across tracks in the New York subway system, requiring users to literally endanger their lives to scan the code. Then there’s the brilliant idea to place QR codes on headstones. (Please, no.) Let’s not forget the ever-famous QR code printed on Heinz bottle labels that led users to an X-rated website. (Sorry, no link for this one.) The use for this technology - which was actually invented by an automotive supplier in 1994 to track inventory - got out of hand, resulting in QR codes becoming a joke in the industry.

A QR code revolution of sorts began in 2017 with Apple’s launch of their iOS 11 update. The camera on the new operating system eliminated the need for downloading third-party apps to read QR codes. Now you could point and click with your camera. Other mobile operating systems followed suit. The barrier to use - and lessons learned from past QR code campaign debacles - lead to developers and marketers taking a second look at the possibilities to enhance application and campaign value.

Chances are, if you’re using your smartphone, you’re using QR codes. Backend technology has caught up and the digitized squares of code are streamlining everyday functions like shopping, purchasing, ticketing, travel, absorbing content, and interacting with others. Use is trending upward. Snapchat users are scanning 8+ million codes a day and a recent study by Juniper research indicates the number of QR coupon codes scanned could reach 5.3 BILLION by 2022.

So what does all this mean for marketing your business? It depends on your business. QR codes can make sense if they add value to how you are communicating (or want to communicate) with your target market. It only adds value if you have the tools in place to lead customers and prospects on a digital journey that makes sense and does not add more steps for your consumer. The value could be in a quick scan to a landing page that gives them more information and a call to action for a promotional offer, the opportunity to leave a review, or expedite orders and purchasing transactions - there are many possibilities. For the best results, make it easy to access (e.g, don’t make them cross rail tracks), keep the message simple, and have a strong call to action.

QR codes may have taken a hit for a few years, but they have been here all along and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In the famous words of LL Cool J, “don’t call it a comeback.” Cue your phone for a scan now. Enjoy!

Want to learn more or do a discovery session to dig deeper into how your marketing efforts could incorporate QR codes? Contact Alli at Treo Marketing at

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