Corporate Eye

QR Codes Successful in Driving Traffic to Brand Websites from Print Media

The use of mobile barcodes (primarily Quick Response codes, known as QR codes) has grown significantly over the past year with QR code scanning jumping by 4549% in the first quarter of 2011 alone. Today, eMarketer released some new data about mobile barcodes that shows the use of barcodes in print media as a tool to drive traffic to brand websites is growing. In 2011, only 4% of print ads in the United States included mobile barcodes, so there is a lot of room for growth.

The problem to date for brands has been trying to figure out how to leverage mobile barcodes to drive actual business. A report from Competitrack suggests that the best campaigns place mobile barcodes in attention-grabbing places where consumers can’t miss them. The best campaigns also give consumers a clear call to action that leads them to useful and relevant content. Brands that optimize landing pages for mobile barcode campaigns will see better conversions simply because most people who scan mobile barcodes do so using a mobile device.

According to Competitrack, the leading U.S. industries with print ads featuring mobile barcodes during 2011 were as follows:

  • Retail = 21.9%
  • Technology = 13.6%
  • Financial services = 6.7%
  • Cosmetics and personal care = 6.3%
  • Food and beverage = 5.0%
  • Apparel = 4.0%
  • Automotive = 3.8%
  • Publishing and communications = 3.4%
  • Telecom = 3.4%
  • Healthcare services = 3.0%

Interestingly, the most frequent user of mobile barcodes in 2011 was Oppenheimer Funds, an investment management firm, which used mobile barcodes in 85% of its print ads.

Today, far more consumers know what QR codes are when they see them. Brands are moving past the consumer education stage in campaigns that feature mobile barcodes. Now, brands have to offer a compelling enough reason for consumers to use those mobile barcodes or they’re useless. Messaging needs to clearly state the benefits consumers will get by clicking on those QR codes, because the stage of curiosity is over.

Research shows that consumers use QR codes primarily because they want to get a deal, discount, or coupon. Just behind the goal of saving money, consumers use QR codes to get information. Only 1 out of 50 consumers claim that they don’t know why they use QR codes. Clear benefits are a necessity to drive both traffic and ultimately, sales from mobile barcodes in print ads.

Image: Matthew Sutherland

The following two tabs change content below.
Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.