How to create QR Codes for Powerful Marketing Tools and Interactive Print

Updated: Apr 7

QR Codes are nothing new, in fact, they were first created in the 1960s in an effort to store more information in a scannable code than the limited 20 alphanumeric characters available from traditional barcodes. Quick Response (QR) Codes for use in print marketing initially had a slow uptake due to the cumbersome need to download a specific app in order to scan the code. Today most smartphones have the inbuilt capability to detect and read QR Codes simply by hovering the camera app over the code. With the recent global outbreak of Covid-19, check-in procedures at most venues have made scanning QR Codes a normal routine.


This now makes QR Codes makes them a powerful tool for creating robust multi-channel marketing campaigns and engaging interactive print collateral. Let's take a look at the benefits of using QR Codes in print.

Benefits of Using QR Codes in Print


Using QR Codes in print can seriously ramp up results for marketing campaigns, educational projects and streamline calls-to-action like registration & renewal notices. Depending on your marketing goal, there are two types of QR Codes providing a range of benefits for marketing and creative design projects:


  • Static QR Codes - Data, usually a URL, is stored directly in the pattern and alignment of the code itself. The more information needing to be stored, the more complex the QR Code pattern which may restrict how small you can make the code. Once printed, the information stored by a Static QR Code can't be changed. If for example, the QR Code links to a URL and the URL changes, that QR Code and the print collateral its on becomes obsolete.

  • Dynamic QR Codes - Instead of storing the destination URL in a QR Code, Dynamic URL's utilise a link shortener to re-direct users to a destination, usually a website. While the shortened, re-direct link stored in the QR Code doesn't change, the re-direction of that link can change. This means you could potentially use the one marketing piece for multiple campaigns over time and ensure your codes never become obsolete.

QR Codes can...


Create Interactive & Engaging Experiences

Let's say you're a Real Estate and you advertise newly listed homes in a local magazine. Instead of using just one generic link to your website, you might provide a QR code for each listing which takes interested parties directly to a video of the property of interest. This utilises multiple channels to engage your audience, encouraging their interaction with your brand or product beyond the page.


Provide Convenience for Your Audience

The more effort involved in your call-to-action, the less likely your audience is to take up the offer and follow your prompts. Using a QR Code that takes your consumer directly to where they need to go, completely removes the cumbersome need for them to type out your URL and/or navigate around your website looking for what they want.


Clarify Your Call-To-Action

Make sure there is no confusion about what you want your audience to do. Whether it's paying a bill online, purchasing a product on special or signing up for a subscription, a QR Code makes sure they don't end up somewhere else.


Track Campaigns Success

Tracking analytics for digital marketing campaigns can be complex, time-consuming and expensive. Utilising a trackable link and a QR Code in print campaigns is actually a relatively easy and affordable way to track the success of your project. For example, a Landscaper might run a letterbox mail campaign with a Dynamic QR Code that takes householders to the Landscapers website. From the trackable links analytics, the Landscaper can view how many people visited their website after receiving the flyer in their letterbox to indicate the success of the print campaign. Some link shortening software can also provide, when, how and where they scanned the code.


Merge Variable Data to Your QR Codes

If your project needs to take individual consumers to unique destinations or open their email client to send emails to varying addresses, tools like Data Merge in InDesign will allow you to utilise variable data through QR Codes. It is also possible to change the colour of your QR Codes relevant to the variable data using Data Merge.


Collect Data & Build Your Mailing List

QR Codes can help you collect data, run a survey, sell subscriptions and build your mailing list. No longer do you have to say things like "Visit our website to sign up" where you're relying on consumers going to the trouble of navigating to a website and finding where they do this. Instead, use a QR Code that takes them directly to your online form or opens their email client to send you an email. And if you use a Dynamic QR Code, you can make changes to your form on the fly without needing to re-print!


Minimise Text and Maximise Impact by Optimising Space

Minimising bulk text in lieu of impressive images, bold colours and impactful typography will help grab the attention of your audience, but this can be tricky if you have a lot to say in a small space. By redirecting your audience to more information via the QR Code, you will have more space to prioritise the aesthetic appeal of your design.





How do you use a QR Code in print campaigns?


Utilising QR Codes in Print is relatively easy and affordable to do. Generating the QR Code itself is usually free, using InDesign or other free QR Code Generating software. If you want to use a Dynamic QR Code that can be changed after it is printed and/or track analytics, you may need to pay for a tool, depending on how many links you require and what level of detail you want to dive into.


Adobe InDesign

This is usually the Graphic Designers go-to-tool. InDesign generates high-fidelity, print quality QR Codes as vector shapes right within their software. You can also add gradients, spot colours and utilise data merge for variable data campaigns. If you think you might need to make changes to the link after printing, or you want to track the QR Codes usage, you should consider using a link shortening tool like Linktree or Bitly.


Here at Printcraft we have over 35 years of experience helping our clients to plan, design, print and distribute successful data-driven marketing campaigns. Whether your campaign features a single QR Code or thousands of variable data elements, we can help from idea to delivery. Contact us to chat about the options to suit your budget and goals.


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