As a bridge for online versus offline marketing, QR code use has evolved significantly. Initially created to help streamline the manufacturing process of Toyota cars, QR codes have come a long way since their inception in 1994. As pointed out in an article by The Toronto Star, the pandemic has created a surge of interest in the 27-year-old technology in more ways than one. For instance, with its innate ability to support touch-free transactions, QR codes have emerged as a useful tool for implementing social distancing and limiting friction points. Government institutions in and out of the country have also leveraged QR codes, which can store information vertically and horizontally, for seamless and safe contact tracing.
But even before today’s global health crisis, QR codes have quietly grown to be one of the most ubiquitous marketing tools. What makes these matrices so special is that they play a crucial role in bridging the long-standing gap between the online and the offline — a role that opens plenty of doors in the world of marketing.
Online and offline marketing have long been considered separate. More often than not, this established divide is the reason why business leaders and marketers often ponder where to funnel most of their funds. Should it be to online or offline marketing?
To some, the obvious answer would be online marketing — and it’s easy to see why. The world’s growing reliance on the internet makes online marketing seem like the best choice. However, even in today’s highly digitalized world, offline marketing is still a reliable way of bringing brands to consumers.
In its simplest sense, online marketing is an umbrella term that refers to all the ways organizations can market and advertise online. Due to the emergence of different online channels and platforms, online marketing can take a wide array of forms — from email newsletters and social media adverts, to website optimization, performance SEO, and biddable media.
As digital marketing company Ayima highlights, with how advanced current technologies are, these strategies can also be enriched with data-focused approaches to enable brands to achieve real, measurable results. Whatever form a brand ends up using, the goals of online marketing continue to be the same: more awareness, more engagement, and ultimately, more conversions.
All the marketing strategies that organizations did before the internet became popular fall under offline marketing. As the name suggests, this type of marketing focuses on offline media like print and TV. These days, in addition to commercial ads, billboards, magazines, brochures, and flyers, offline marketing now also accounts for digital signages. Here at Display5, we’ve listed down video walls, room panels, desktop and screensaver signages, and interactive kiosks as newer forms of offline marketing.
Unlike online marketing, offline marketing campaigns used to be mainly utilized in order to boost brand awareness. After all, these strategies could only run for a short period of time (especially on print), can be considerably more expensive, and are not quickly accessible. Their success is not easy to measure, too.
Both offline and online marketing have their strengths and weaknesses, and for those looking to maximize both, QR codes can come in handy.
Of the many features QR codes boast, the one that’s been very crucial in linking offline and online marketing is their ability to be printed on virtually anything. Brands can print them on receipts, merchandise, T-shirts, signages, social media posts, and even TV ads. When done right and supported by impeccable back-end tools, QR codes can also evolve into something more powerful.
That’s because every single code can be used to enable personalization and allow for contextual experiences. They can be altered in accordance with factors such as destination, geolocation, and personalized context. In a sense, QR codes can be perceived as gates added on offline marketing campaigns to bring customers from real-life to digital spaces.
As mentioned, QR codes are capable of carrying a great deal of information. This ability allows them to execute certain actions and lead customers to different things. They can be made to launch a video, log and make a call, open a form, send a text, access relevant information, and many more.
In the case of leading online payments system Paypal, QR codes have been employed to enable small Canadian businesses to accept touch-free mobile payments from their customers. With a smartphone or any other handheld connected device, all buyers have to do is scan a business’s QR code with their device’s native camera and then they’re good to go. This clever use of QR codes provides customers and entrepreneurs with a safer and contactless way to continue interacting with each other.
One of the biggest drawbacks of offline marketing materials is that they are hardly measurable. Marketers may attempt to gauge just how impactful or effective these schemes may be, but getting to an exact number will be impossible. After all, most offline marketing won’t allow the marketer to determine the number of people that were able to see their billboards, posters, or flyers. And for the technical implementations that do connect digital signs with audience counts, how useful is that data really? Thankfully, with QR codes, this can now be resolved. QR codes can be embedded with deep links, or the links that send users directly to an app instead of a website or a store. Links that can collect audience mobile numbers, provide instant coupons, or a send a video link with targeted, trackable information.
In this way, marketers are able to see and interact with the consumers’ point of entry. This will then allow them to track and measure which offline campaigns are effective based on the number of scans they received. Additionally, QR codes can also be used to help marketers learn about their audience’s interests, behaviors, app affinity, and demographics. Instead of online versus offline marketing, the insights that can be gathered through the use of QR codes can then be used by marketing professionals to tie together all marketing channels — both online and offline.
All in all, as noted in our previous post on Managing Digital QR Codes, these matrices can be used to address a bigger audience, create more targeted messages, and enjoy a wide variety of outcomes from both offline and online marketing strategies.