How Does QR Code Tracking Work?

Particularly if you are using QR Codes as a part of a marketing campaign, using QR Code tracking allows you to understand whether or not this campaign was successful. It also reveals patterns so that you can adjust current and improve future campaigns.

The basics of QR Code tracking

First off, there are actually two major types of QR Codes: Dynamic QR Codes and Static QR Codes. Which type you use depends entirely on your goal with using the QR Code. Let’s take a look at the differences.

Trackable: Dynamic QR Codes

Dynamic QR Codes are trackable, meaning that once they are completed, records of their usage will start being tracked. This includes information such as the location of the scan, the number of scans, what time the scans took place, as well as the operating system of the device used. The major advantage of Dynamic QR Codes is that they can be edited at any time. This is, of course, extremely beneficial if any mistakes in the connected information were made. Furthermore, if you’re planning to make adjustments to QR Code campaigns while they are running, it’s highly recommended to use Dynamic QR Codes so you can make any necessary changes.

Untrackable: Static QR Codes

The other type of QR Code is a Static QR Code, which is an uneditable and untrackable QR Code. This type of QR Code is typically set up as a Plain Text QR Code, Email QR Code, SMS QR Code, as well as a few others. Static QR Codes are more suitable for personal use such as a one-time event where tracking isn’t important.

What are the benefits of QR Code tracking?

If you plan to track your QR Code campaign, QR Code Generator’s software provides some fantastic metrics. This allows you to see data in real-time so you can plan campaigns more easily or even change your QR Code entirely if something’s not working.

What are the most important QR Code metrics?

Operating system

The majority of users scan QR Codes with their cell phones. Each cell phone uses a particular operating system, i.e. Android, iOS, Windows, etc. This information reveals the types of phones used that are popular in your QR Code campaign.

Example case: Let’s say that you’re an app company that wants to increase app downloads. Your app only functions on Android phones. The placement of your QR Code should then be focused on targeting solely Android users. You can use the operating system metrics to see if you have used the correct location for these users. If you had many scans from iOS, then you’ve probably got the QR Code in the wrong place.

QR Code tracking includes information on the operating system used to scan

Pro tip: Use App Store QR Code to detect the user’s operating system so it opens the right app store every time.

Location (city & country)

The location of the scans can be broken down into categories such as country and city, shown with the number of scans as a percentage of the total. This information is based on an individual’s IP address.

Countries are listed according to their scanned location

Example case: You’re a multinational e-commerce retailer that wants to increase their social media engagement, but you aren’t entirely sure which locations give you the best engagement. You could use a Social Media QR Code on billboard advertisements set in various locations you’ve had good outreach with previous customers. After implementing the campaign, you can then monitor which countries and even specific cities to know where to re-target your social media campaigns. You could, for example, use this demographic data to aid in a Facebook ad retargeting campaign.

QR Code tracking also includes city metrics

Total number of scans

This metric shows the complete number of times a QR Code was scanned, including if it was scanned multiple times by a single individual. This information is useful, particularly when compared with other metrics like time period and location.

QR Code Generator software counts total and unique scans in real-time

Example case: Using again the case of the multinational e-commerce retailer, you found that there were a very high number of scans in one month, but in other months the amount was very low. You can use this information to know how long to continue to use your current billboard advertisement. Considering a holiday season like Christmas where retailers make a major portion of their sales, you could gauge from this metric how long to use a specific Christmas advertisement.

Unique scans

Slightly different from total scans, unique scans are the number of times one person scans a QR Code as a whole. Basically the scans are tracked by the number of scans per device. So if multiple devices share the same IP address, they will share one location but are still counted as unique scans. The total number of scans can, therefore, provide slightly inflated results in comparison to unique scans.

Time period (month, day, hour)

QR Code scanning metrics also break down the time period into the month, day, and even hour, all shown as live data. This data is extremely useful if you want to compare the success of campaigns over various time periods.

View QR Code scans over a period of time

Example case: You are a real estate agency and you want to promote certain properties with unique benefits. Real estate agencies tend to have photo displays on their shop fronts, but print displays only show limited information. You could add a PDF QR Code to this property display where a potential customer can read a lot more information, even outside of office hours. You can compare different displays and listings and see when you have the most foot traffic based on the scan time and replicate this to increase financial success.

ROI (return on investment)

This metric is one of the most important. However, this one is up to you to decide. ROI can be defined as the amount of revenue you earned from your marketing campaign minus the amount of money you spent. This is the true metric for deciding whether or not your marketing efforts were worth it.

Optimizing ROI takes time and experimentation. You’re one of the lucky ones if you achieve amazing results from your first campaign. Typically the process involves different levels of testing over long periods of time to obtain the best results, often including a process known as A/B testing.

How to use A/B testing to compare QR Code campaigns

So, what is A/B testing?

A/B testing is the process of comparing two or more similar marketing campaigns with slight variations to see which one is better. If you want to achieve better results from your marketing campaigns, but you’re not sure where to begin, A/B testing is a fantastic method to give your campaign direction.

A/B test example of which QR Code will get more scans. With or without a call-to-action frame?

Applying A/B testing to a QR Code campaign

A/B testing has long been used in email marketing and social media advertising to decipher key information about the success rates of campaigns. You can compare aspects such as photo variations, different styles of copy, different Call to Actions (CTAs), different target demographics, and much more to understand which campaigns are the most successful. Many “overnight successes” are actually the result of tons of A/B over a long period in which they finally found their “Aha moment.”

The same premise can be used for any QR Code campaign. QR Codes too can be customized using different colors, CTAs, frames, and more. Experimenting with these styling elements, your type of QR Code used, as well as your tracking metrics will be the best way to discover your own recipe for success. Again, A/B testing takes patience and time, so prioritize the time and effort to really do proper long-term testing.

How to do QR Code tracking with Google Analytics

One final point not to be forgotten when it comes to QR Code tracking is linking it to your Google Analytics account. Google Analytics is by far the best free tool for tracking the metrics behind your entire marketing activities. Every single website should be using Google Analytics. Particularly if you are sending traffic to a website, it’s important to keep track of the referred users that were sent there as a result of the QR Code scan. You can then track which users made a purchase on this website page as a result of this referral, the ideal way for tracking ROI.

For an overview of how this works, check out our help guide here.

Adriana Stein

Adriana Stein is a Freelance Content Writer for Egoditor GmbH and is originally from Oregon, USA. She is now based in Hamburg, Germany, and specializes in creating and managing SEO and content marketing strategies for businesses across a variety of industries. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn!

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