Let’s take a little trip back in time. The year was 2012, and as a part of our dealership’s setup at a local summer festival, we were going to give away the hot, new iPad2 to generate more hand-raiser leads than ever using a QR Code.
What actually happened though was we spent way too much time educating people on what that giant, blocky black and white code on the sign was and the app they needed to install on their phone to scan it.
It was like working at the Apple Genius Bar…but only in 90 degree heat…and with people who didn’t really want to be there.
It turned out that people really only wanted to enter to win the iPad if they could do so quickly and easily. Like, you know…by writing their name, email address, and phone number on a little slip of paper and then jamming it into a cardboard box.
No one wanted to download a special app (over a 3G cellular network) just to scan a weird looking code thingy and then have to type their name, email address, and phone number on a tiny virtual keyboard. Who had time for that?!
Looking back on it all these years later, I think it’s pretty clear why this promo didn’t work as intended:
- The smartphone was barely 5 years old, and only 45% of adults actually owned one.
- Those who had a smartphone saw it as device of utility — not necessity.
- There was too much friction in the digital experience compared to the traditional one.
So after that weekend long experience of #qrcodefail, my main takeaway was utilizing QR Codes in your digital marketing strategy may have been the right idea, but it was definitely the wrong time.
THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW
Fast forward to today and things are different now, aren’t they? 94% percent of adults between the ages of 18-49 now own a smartphone. In just a few short years our phones have become physical extensions of our bodies that we can’t live without.
Ten years ago, if I realized that I left the house without my phone, I would have been like “oh well, whatever”. If that were to happen today? Yeah…I’d freak out, and I’m guessing you would too.
So say what you want about the early days of QR Codes, but you can’t deny the fact that they laid the groundwork for some of the tech that’s been implemented inside of today’s most popular apps.
Scanning a digital code with our phone is now near ubiquitous thanks to apps like Venmo, Spotify, and SnapChat where sending come cash, loading up a playlist, or adding a friend is as simple as pointing your phone at a code.
#ProTip: Quickly create and customize QR Codes that include your logo and brand colors at https://www.qr-code-generator.com/
Then there’s the game changing fact that your phone’s naitive camera app can now instantly recognize a QR Code and prompt you to visit the encoded destination all on its own.
Also, like many other aspects of our lives, COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of technology and irrevocably changed consumer behavior. Today, it’s hard to go somewhere and not see a QR Code — they’re everywhere. From Home Depot to Taco Bell, businesses big and small are using QR Codes to direct people to schedule an appointment, order online, download an app, and so much more.
And you know something has gone mainstream when you see it on a Super Bowl commercial. Coinbase spent $13 million dollars on a 60 second spot that showed nothing more than a QR Code sailing across the screen. Not talking cats. Not expensive celebrities. Just a colorful, blocky code paying homage to the classic DVD screensaver of yesteryear.
That QR Code alone drove over 20 million users to the Coinbase website within that one minute where users were able to claim $15 in free bitcoin for signing up. The traffic and brand awareness benefits alone makes this a #qrcodewin!
If you’re still uncertain about the power of QR Codes, consider this: As of Chrome version 85, creating a QR Code has become a standard feature of the world’s most widely-used web browser. You simply right-click on any web page and select ‘Create QR code for this page’. It’s as easy as two clicks — making QR Code generation more accessible and convenient than ever.
TIPS FOR USING QR CODES IN THE DEALERSHIP
If you’re ready to revisit the idea of using QR Codes at your dealership, I’ve put together a few creative ways that you can incorporate them into your shopping experience and marketing materials to drive engagement with your customers.
PROVIDE A MORE ENGAGING EXPERIENCE IN THE SHOWROOM
You could create and print QR Codes to place on the vehicles in your showroom so that when scanned would do any number of things, like open a:
- Digital brochure for that vehicle
- Video review or walkaround of that model
- Video highlighting an F&I product or available accessories
- Model landing page on your website
- VDP for that specific vehicle
- VRP with available inventory for that model
VIRTUALLY CONNECT ON THE LOT
Sometime shoppers just feel more comfortable wandering your lot before coming inside the showroom, or prefer to take a look at your inventory after hours and on weekends.
Just because these folks are out there alone, that doesn’t mean you can’t virtually be there to greet them. You could certainly use the showroom QR Codes above on the vehicles on your lot — or you could take it up a notch and provide the casual tire-kicker with an even better experience by providing a(n):
- Easy way to connect with someone inside the dealership via chat.
- Video from your owner or GM welcoming them to your dealership.
- Provide an Instant Offer for their trade-in on your website.
While we all understand the importance of reviews and the role they play in helping other shoppers choose to work with your dealership over your competition, you may not realize how review recency plays a factor in calculating your overall review score.
The short version is that as reviews age, they become less relevant to shoppers. So it’s not how many total reviews you have that matters most — it’s how often you’re getting reviews. Printing and placing review reminders on the desks of your salespeople and finance managers is an easy way to utilize QR Codes that lead to the specific, positive outcome of increasing your review velocity.
Now, it’s cool if you want to create a QR Code that will take someone directly to Google or DealerRater to leave their review. But it’s always good to have an even distribution of reviews on all the various platform. So a better idea would be to actually create a landing page that contains links to all the platforms where you have a review presence on your website. Then you can use that url to power your QR Code so that when scanned, people can then select their favorite review platform such as Google, Facebook, DealerRater, Cars.com or Yelp.
IN YOUR MARKETING
While QR Codes can definitely play a role in keeping your in-store customers engaged, you can also incorporate them into your traditional marketing channels to drive digital engagement.
For example, if you’re sending a direct mail piece with service coupons to your customers, include a QR Code that links to your service scheduler to easily generate appointments.
For any print advertising you run, support your vehicle acquisition efforts by using a QR Code to open up the trade-in experience on your website.
You can even empower your salespeople to include a QR Code on their business cards that would link to their personal profile page on DealerRater that highlights their personal reviews.
IN YOUR COMMUNITY
And to take this post full circle, you can (and should) use QR Codes just like we did back in the day in your grassroots marketing to drive sign ups for a giveaway or to create brand awareness in your community. And you don’t even need to go all Coinbase and spend $13 million to do it!
If you’re like most dealerships, I’m willing to bet you sponsor your local 4th of July fireworks, the high school football team, a local festival, and/or maybe even a farmer’s market, right?
How about using a QR code on your signage or handouts for a free carwash for everyone at the event? Or maybe 10% off their first oil change or service appointment?
Today all the barriers have been removed, and using a QR Code in your grassroots marketing efforts is a great way to get new folks engaged with your dealership while also showcasing all the good you do within your community.
BONUS #PROTIP: TRACK WITH UTM CODES
While there are plenty of paid QR Code apps that you can use to track the number of scans each of your codes get, there’s an easy (and better) way to track them for fee. Since you can take any text string and turn it into a QR Code, that means you can also incorporate UTM Codes for those times when you want to take a visitor to a landing page on your website. It might look something like this:
Then you just copy that link, and paste it into the QR Code generator of your choosing. Each time that code is scanned, you’ll be able to see those visits within Google Analytics 4, and how they led to real conversions on your website. It’s a simple way to track how often your QR Codes are being scanned and which experiences your customers are finding to be the most “scan worthy”.
We’re always up for talking about creative ways to help our clients upgrade their digital marketing game. Want to talk about QR Codes or any other digital marketing strategies and tactics? Just give us a shout!Let’s Talk Strategy