QR codes are everywhere. That should be a digital marketer’s dream, except for one little problem: we’ve all learned to ignore them. They’re everywhere, yet no one even notices them anymore… let alone pay attention to them… let alone hold up the phone to see what lies on the other side of the black and white squares.
The technology behind QR codes hasn’t changed much since they were developed in 1994. Yeah, you read that right. QR codes were 13 years old when the first iPhone was released. In the 14 years of the smartphone era, QR codes have become part of the background on packaging or printed items like tickets – less useful and somehow less attractive than a barcode.
The challenge for marketers is finding ways to draw customers’ eyes and phones to the QR code.
Give customers a QR code worth scanning
Repeat engagement starts with a single click. Now how do we get that click?
Some brands are making their QR codes more attractive by incorporating logos, words or colors into the pattern. Sports teams can take advantage of this very easily, since they already have highly recognizable marks that fans are used to interacting with.
A prominent, specific call-to-action – one that tells customers what’s in it for them if they snap the QR code – is one way to go from noticing to acting. “Scan here for see what seats are available at this weekend’s game!” “Free parking at tonight’s game by scanning the QR code below.”
Teams can place their branded QR codes in print advertisements, on their website, on tickets and in their sponsors’ locations. For example, many teams have a supermarket sponsor. Part of the activation can be displays around the store with QR codes that offer on-the-spot digital coupons. The value of the coupon could double if the customer scans the code with from their team app: this way you build favor with new markets and possibly increase downloads, and reward existing fans for their loyalty.
This could be a very low overhead sponsorship activation. A single QR code at the entrance or point of sale could be used indefinitely: the printed code is fixed, but the action it triggers can change every week or every hour. These are called “dynamic QR codes,” a somewhat misleading term because the QR code itself is static: the dynamic aspect is on the back end. This week, the QR codes in a supermarket could give customers 10% of their total purchase. Next week it could give them a complimentary ticket to a midweek game of their choice.
How to leverage smart credentials with a must-click QR code
QR codes and bar codes are almost interchangeable for mobile ticketing. But when placed on a physical ticket, QR codes have far more possibilities.
Wait, isn’t that going backwards a decade? Aren’t venues going fully mobile and paperless, from tickets to cash? Yes, but that trend is already rolling back a bit. It turns out that people like to have something in their hand, even if the real action is on their phone (refresher: NFTs good, NFTs validating a bobblehead better).
Teams are increasingly offering their fans souvenir tickets, and providing physical smart credentials to their season ticket holders. No one wants their credential on the end of a lanyard to be a just a status symbol – they want it to do something.
A QR code on a season-long reusable ticket is a way for the team and the fan to build a season-long engagement away from the game.
The team can update the back end of the dynamic QR code on a regular schedule to give season ticket holders reasons to click throughout the week. On game day, until 2 hours before the game, scanning the QR code will give the fan the most up-to-date information (perhaps including special video content) about the team and the lineup. Once doors open, the QR code becomes the ticket. After the QR code is scanned and the fan is in the arena, the QR code can offer promotions, highlights, an extra entry in the nightly drawing…. anything. In the days following the game, taking an occasional snap of the QR code can offer, well, as you’re now realizing, anything.
Dynamic QR codes become another stream in your customer relations or sales & marketing strategies. Alongside social media, email, phone calls and in-person touch points, QR codes give you another way of uniquely targeting your customer base.
Every QR scan increases the chances of the next one
We’ve talked mostly about how sports teams can use QR codes for digital marketing, but the same ideas apply for museums, concert halls, universities, festivals and even companies that issue an access badge. Anything that can be scanned by your phone’s camera – from a credential to a screen – can become smarter, more generous and more interactive with a well-managed QR code on it.
And not only will your fans thank you for a non-intrusive way of doing more for them, the entire digital marketing industry will be grateful that your company helped get people in the habit of noticing and snapping QR codes.
Maybe a future QR code-enabled VIP pass will be the one around your neck as you take the stage as an inductee into the Digital Marketing Hall of Fame.
QR codes have been around a long time, but WW&L has been around even longer. For over 100 years, we’ve been leading the way on printing tickets, access badges, parking decals – anything that connects access to experience. Let us know how we can bring QR codes or any other form of tech – new or old – to your marketing efforts