I'd love to see some conversion comparisons pitching QR codes against regular text URL's.
It depends a lot on the location. For example, in the US and the UK - QR codes are not very popular (which is probably down to the devices we us not having built-in scanning functionality).
However, in some places, such as Japan and China, QR codes are known to be very effective.
Some examples of effective QR code campaigns:
Lifestyle companies such as Macy’s, JC Penny, and Tesco are some of the most notable success in QR codes marketing. These companies find inventive ways of incorporating QRs into their marketing messages to entice customers to scan and enjoy the benefits.Tesco’s for example, became the second biggest retail grocery chain in South Korea (changed its name to Home Plus)—not by expanding the number of stores, but by including codes on posters in subway stations, train stations, and sidewalks, allowing people to order groceries, on the spot.
Restaurants are cashing in on QR codes too—just ask The Melt, famous for its grilled cheese sandwiches. Customers can easily scan QRs that will then automatically get their food on the grill while they are being seated.
Universally popular names such as Taco Bell and Mountain Dew used QR code campaigns on their drink cups, with many free music downloads available to those who scanned them. In total, some 200,000 downloads resulted from this successful campaign.
THQ Homefront is a videogame that uses QR codes throughout the game for players to unlock exclusive, never-before-seen content. Within two days, some 30,000 codes were scanned.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s film Inception also made use of QR codes to ramp up the sense of mystery and hype around the movie. Flyers, T-shirts, and posters promoting Inception contained codes that led to a fake website named What Is Dream Share?
Are QR codes more effective than text links in any particular setting?
I don't have any numbers/study/research to support my claim, but speaking purely from personal experience,
- Hides brand issues If the brand-name in the URL is not good enough but caption with QR code is reason enough for you to go for it. For example, stick a QR code with caption 'get a chance to win free star-war tickets' just near food & beverage counter in a multiplex and see the number of visits.
User can trust the QR code since it is within the boundary of the multiplex and user knows that multiplex is responsible for what it is recommending to their customers.
- Direct access to benefits Rather than placing physical coupons outside supermarkets, just put some QR codes which is only redeemable from the app of that supermarket. It is more convenient for both store and user since it allows supermarket to not worry about keeping their coupons and pricing up to date, while users (once they get on board on the supermarket's app) can browse through coupons and offers from supermarket. Users can finally redeem the coupons by giving the app-generate code at POS.
Point is - QR codes gives instant access to something, but if the URL is not displayed then user might think that he/she could be cheated. However, if you place them at locations where user can trust those QR codes then that is where it works best.
I bet 9/10 people you can meet in the street if you get out won't be able to scan a bar code. Yet to be convinced that is a viable technology for linking.