What is a QR Code Experience? It's Not just a QR code.
When talking to brand marketers, the idea of the QR Code Experience is often conflated with QR code generators and landing pages.
We get it. It’s the wild west out there in e-commerce, retail, and omnichannel. Marketing across channels has become a complex, rapidly changing, noisy, daily battle. Part of it is the explosion in new technology.
In this article, we are going to clarify, remove ambiguity, and answer any question you might have about this increasingly hot topic.
Why have a QR Code Experience
Do you know anything about the people who purchased your product in Target or on Amazon today? A simple, yet hard-to-answer question.
A lot of money is spent trying to solve this problem.
- Consumer brands spent $20B in 2020 using market research to know their customers better.
- They also spent $16B on influencer marketing trying to engage with prospective buyers and customers.
Retail and marketplaces like Amazon are “black box” channels. Brands have no clue who is buying in retail or on Amazon at this very moment. And no way to engage with them.
For the customer, it's a fragmented experience. What they experience in retail is nothing like what they would experience on the brand’s web and social presence.
Despite email going mainstream in the mid-1990s and SMS becoming ubiquitous in the 2000’s nothing changed. Then the DTC model almost solved this problem.
Brands had complete control of the customer experience and associated data. They skipped the retail channel altogether and brands like Warby Parker, Away, Allbirds, and Casper were built on Facebook and Instagram where they 100% owned the customer relationship, but iOS 14 destroyed that business model. With rising DTC customer acquisition costs, it's no longer a scalable option.
Now brands must be omnichannel, with a significant portion of sales driven from retail and Amazon to survive and thrive. Brands are back where they started. In the dark.
The customer is on an island and a critical connection is lost. As a result, the brand's story is lost in the ether. Ultimately, leaking customer lifetime value.
Thankfully, there is an easy and simple way to solve this problem. QR Code Experiences empower brands to bridge the retail and marketplace gap and forge a new connection with potential buyers and customers.
What is a QR Code Experience?
Ever scan a QR code before? Most likely you scanned them for contactless menus since the start of COVID. The pandemic was a watershed moment for QR code usage.
Then, in 2022, Coinbase’s famous QR code commercial fanned the flames of adoption. And now they are here to stay.
Anyways, if the answer is yes, you’ve had a QR Code Experience. It may have been amazing. It may have been terrible, but you had one!
A QR Code Experience is the end-to-end experience a user has when scanning a QR code. That means the interaction with the QR code AND the final destination.
In the context of consumer products in an omnichannel environment, we at Brij focus on the placement of a QR code on a physical product, packaging, insert, or in-store and creating a connection to the digital brand.
It’s a bridge between:
- Brand and consumer
- Digital and physical environment
- Pre-, point-of, and post-sale
- Retail, marketplace, and DTC
What is NOT a QR Code Experience
The individual pieces often get often get conflated with the experience itself.
Below are the key components.
- The QR Code - A scannable image that translates to information or action
- A digital experience - Where the QR code takes you
A lot of marketers interested in creating a QR Code Experience start by hacking together a solution using a free QR code generator (full comparison here) and a landing page builder.
However, landing pages are single-page sites aimed at a single task, a form fill. Whereas a digital experience is like an entire app for your product, but does NOT require an app download.
On their own, QR codes and digital experience are pieces of the puzzle but incomplete on their own. And a QR Code Experience is greater than all of the parts combined.
What can you do with a QR Code Experience?
When done right, it’s an always-on brand activation, communication, and sales channel.
What do you do with your other marketing and sales channels? Whatever you thought of, you can also do that in a QR Code Experience!
We see the QR Code Experience channel as a swiss army knife that can do all of the following:
- Education and nurturing opportunities
- Capture 1st party data capture (email etc.)
- Remarketing and reorder
- Retention and Loyalty
- Drive Retail Velocity (coupon, rebates)
All of this creates a better brand experience for the customer. And anything that provides more value to customers, translates to return on investment.
The QR Code Experience also generates a new data stream. Marketers can know who purchased what, when, and where - every day, in real-time, continuously. New data pipelines open the door to new marketing and revenue opportunities..
At Brij, we like to think of it as the 4th leg of the stool in an omnichannel playbook that previously consisted of the big 3: retail, DTC, and Amazon.
What is a good QR Code Experience?
We like to split the QR code experience into two parts: front- and backend. The front of the experience is all about the QR code placement in packaging/product. The back of the experience is the digital destination experience.
The front-end experience is fairly straightforward. And can be split into two components.
- Placement - The location of the QR code and its integration into the overall packaging design.
- Call to action - Clarity of what you find on the other side of the QR Code Experience and benefit to the consumer.
The example below with Coke and Dr. Pepper shows how these factors can play out in real life. And it really can be a world of a difference in appearance and engagement. We don’t have any data from Coke or Dr. Pepper in this case, but I think it’s safe to say which brand is getting way more interaction with its QR Code Experience.
Moving on to the back end of the QR Code Experience, there is considerably more complexity. This experience can vary widely depending on the strategy and goals associated with the QR Code Experience program.
Regardless, you want to consider the following factors.
- Mobile optimization - The destination must be designed for smartphone consumption. Consumers expect mobile experiences to be seamless and effortless, like the experience of using an app. Having to navigate a non-responsive website with frequent page loads will diminish the user experience and reduce conversion
- Content - Like any channel, you’ll want to fill it with brand content. The QR Code Experinece is filling a channel where previously there was nothing! So, it’s a great opportunity to share your brand story, differentiating features, instructions, recipes, or some form of of value-added.
- Customization - The beauty of QR Code Experiences is that you can create custom experiences for each SKU and channel (Amazon vs. retail). You can share different information for different products (recipes, instructions), and drive different actions in different channels (ask for reviews on Amazon).
- Conversion - QR Code Experiences generate an entirely new source of traffic and engagement that you can drive to some sort of conversion. It could be a social follow, email/SMS opt-in, or another purchase. The world is your oyster!
- Data capture - Just like any web page, the vast majority of visitors won’t convert on the first visit. Collect contact information and use remarketing pixels to drive remarketing and nurturing campaigns.
With another value-added touchpoint, brands are increasingly driving incremental growth in sales. Greater Than, a hydration brand for moms attributes 18% of sales to QR Codes.
Mescla, a plant-based snack bar is increasing AOV 17x
In the last two years, use of QR codes on product packaging is surging. Brands ranging from food and beverage to alcohol to clothing to electronics are rolling out QR Code Experiences. Even the legendary brand, Coca-cola is using QR codes on their bottles!
Sadly, the QR Code Experience for these brands (even the legendary brand Coca-cola) was an afterthought. And it’s not uncommon for us to hear from a brand that they, “...tried QR codes and it didn’t work for us.” That’s probably because they failed to think about the holistic experience.
To wrap things up, we’ll leave you with some do’s and don’ts to consider.
❌ Make your QR code hard to see
❌ Leave out a call to action
❌ Link to a one-size-fits-all experience (homepage, PDP, social)
❌ Link to a desktop webpage
❌ Leave out pixels
✅ Prominently feature your QR code
✅ Have a clear call to action that shares value
✅ Mobile optimize your page
✅ Share brand story and value-added content
✅ Have a call to action
✅ Use remarketing pixels
What’s your QR Code Experience plan?
The future has arrived, but it’s unevenly distributed. Some brands have broken the black box. Those brands and their customers are freely strolling over that bridge and have a closer connection. And the brands are benefiting from it.
Brij is helping more and more trend-setting brands do this every day. If that sounds like something your brand wants to do, drop us a line any time. Even if it's just to talk about how to start with QR codes. Book a time here.