What is a QR Code + How Does It Work? Everything Marketers Should Know

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What is a QR code? A QR code stands for quick response code and it’s used as an alternative to barcodes in order to make scanning easier. With the help of Smartphones, now any object can become a mobile scanner or even an internet-connected device that uses this method. This article explains what they are, how they work and some aspects marketers should be aware of when using them.

A QR Code is a 2D barcode that can be used to store information. It’s often used in marketing and advertising campaigns. Here are some examples of how this technology is being used by marketers today. Read more in detail here: qr code marketing examples.

What is a QR Code + How Does It Work? Everything Marketers Should Know

After my pandemic-induced slumber, I’ll never forget the first time I ate at a restaurant. The server motioned to a piece of paper with a barcode before I could even ask for a menu. “Scan it using your phone’s camera. A menu should appear.”

QR codes have appeared on everything from cereal boxes to billboards to staff uniforms virtually overnight. There’s no doubting QR codes are seeing an epic rebirth in a new touch-free world, with a 94 percent rise in engagements from 2018 to 2020.

Free Download: How to Build and Use QR Codes for Business & Marketing 

Let’s look at the history of the QR code, how it works, and how it might help you renew your marketing plan.

Contents Table of Contents

What exactly is a QR code?

QR Codes: Static vs. Dynamic

What are QR codes and how do they work?

The QR Code’s Origins [+ Its 2020 Revival]

Marketing using QR Codes

What exactly is a QR code?


QR codes, which stand for “rapid response,” are data-storage barcodes that can be scanned. They’re often used in marketing to link people to landing pages, websites, social media accounts, and retail discounts.

For example, a QR code on the back of a business card may take you to a person’s LinkedIn page. A billboard QR code may direct you to a landing page.

QR codes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they mostly fall into one of two categories: static or dynamic.

QR Codes: Static vs. Dynamic

Once it’s online, a static QR code includes information that can’t be changed. This implies that if you make a mistake or make a typo, you’ll have to start again. The good thing is that static codes never expire, so once you’ve established the content, you’re done.

Static QR codes are great for storing fixed or sensitive information, such as Wi-Fi passwords, employee ID numbers, and access credentials. They’re less useful if you need to update your data on a frequent basis.

You may alter your information as many times as you like using dynamic QR codes. This is due to the fact that the information isn’t included in the code. Instead, it sends visitors to a custom URL that may be modified at any moment. A restaurant, for example, may connect people to a menu on their website.

The capacity to collect scanning metrics is a key advantage of dynamic QR codes. While you won’t be able to view personal information from users, you will be able to see the time, location, and device that each scan was performed on. As marketers, we understand the importance of these data in determining the success of a campaign.

What are QR codes and how do they work?

A QR code functions in the same way as supermarket barcodes do. Each QR code is made up of black squares and dots that represent various types of data. When scanned, the barcode’s distinctive pattern transforms into human-readable data. This transaction is completed in a matter of seconds.

Users must scan the code using a QR reader or scanner, however most people currently use their cellphones to do so. If your phone doesn’t have the functionality, there are lots of free QR scanning applications available, such as NeoReader and QuickMark Barcode Scanner.

The QR Code’s Origins [+ Its 2020 Revival]

The initial objective of the QR code, invented in 1994 by Masahiro Hara, head engineer of Denso Wave, was to monitor cars and components traveling through the assembly line.

Despite its inception in the mid-1990s, the QR code did not achieve significant traction until the smartphone age. Users had to download a third-party program to scan the codes even then. When Apple included a QR scanner in their phones in 2017, it was a game changer, and other manufacturers swiftly followed suit.

A fresh wave of enthusiasm arose as a result of accessibility, but it swiftly faded as marketers’ interest waned. That is, until the year 2020. I’m sure you can figure out where I’m headed with this.

In 2020, 11 million households in the United States scanned a QR code, up from 9 million in 2018.

In the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, the QR code provided companies with a new method to connect with clients in an increasingly touchless culture. A wide range of businesses employed them for the first time, from hospitality and food to retail and manufacturing.

QR codes may also help advertisers bridge the gap between physical and online media. They’ve swiftly evolved into dynamic, two-dimensional call-to-action buttons that may be used to engage consumers, motivate action, increase traffic, and disseminate information without requiring a large financial investment.

So, QR codes are here to stay, right? It’s debatable whether they’ve earned a permanent place in a post-pandemic society, but there’s no doubting their tremendous journey since their first assembly line appearance.

Here are a few methods to include QR codes into your marketing campaigns.

Marketing using QR Codes

1. QR codes may help you stand out in a crowded environment.

Marketing 101 teaches you how to set your company out from the competition. QR codes, when utilized effectively, may pique the interest of both consumers and prospects. Use this chance to connect QR codes to special deals or quality information in order to convert that interest into a sale.

Consider SparkPlug Coffee, which held a contest in which consumers could enter by scanning a QR code.


2. QR codes allow you to reach out to customers on the move.

Don’t you wish there was a method for retailers to communicate with consumers on the go? QR codes may be included into retail signs and other print advertisements. QR codes make it very simple for customers and prospects to get your information quickly on their phones, whether you’re giving discounts for in-store buying or an easy method to sign up for your newsletter.


This poster, from REI, an outdoor sports equipment business, was placed on the front entrance of one of their shops to promote interest in their regular shopper club. Rather of promoting the program, they concentrated on the benefit (dividends) and gave a QR code that led to a list of things that could be purchased with the money.

3. QR codes make real life interactive in the same way that the internet does.

Many companies are devoting more time and resources to digital advertising, which is more engaging and trackable than conventional advertising.

QR codes transform static material into dynamic call-to-action buttons, making them more engaging. You have a lot of alternatives for engaging clients, from asking them to submit a Google review to diverting them to a customized Facebook page.

QR codes are being used by museums, libraries, and parks to bring exhibitions and park benches to life. Take a look at this sample from New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art:


4.QR codes are both free and simple to use.

Businesses may utilize a variety of tools to input a landing page URL and build a QR code that will send people to that URL with a single click of a button.

QRCode Monkey and Flowcode, for example, enable you to create QR codes in minutes and supply you with the appropriate image formats to utilize in your projects.

In the marketing world, QR codes are undoubtedly having a moment. If you’re considering incorporating them into your approach, keep in mind that creating value is the ideal practice. Make sure that each code connects to a valuable resource — such as a discount or offer — and that it just takes a few clicks.

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QR codes are a type of two-dimensional barcode that can be scanned with a camera phone to access information. They have been used in the past as an alternative to traditional paper based business cards and are also heavily used by marketers. Reference: importance of qr code in pandemic.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do marketers use QR codes?

A: Marketing agencies use QR codes to collect information about their customers. For example, a customer might be asked for ones name and address by scanning the code with their phone at checkout or when entering an event.

How exactly do QR codes work?

A: QR codes are a form of barcode used for applications to read and interpret data from. They were originally designed for use in Japan, where it is called QR code. The most common way that people use them today is through their mobile phones camera.

What do I need to know about QR codes?

A: QR codes are a type of barcode that can be scanned by smartphones or cameras to open the content on websites. You may also use them as links in emails, text messages and social media posts.

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