blog

Why QR Codes Are Finally Ready For Prime Time

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.

QR Code on a sign

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?!

I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet

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. 

but your kids are gonna love it

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 SnapChat and Spotify where adding a friend or loading up a shared playlist 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.

Scanning a QR Code using the Android Camera App

Also, like many other aspects of our lives, COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of technology. 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 just in case you still aren’t sold on the viability of QR Codes, it’s also worth noting that with version 85 of the Chrome Browser, QR Code generation will become a standard feature of the world’s most popular web browser. That means anyone can quickly create a QR Code out of anything that’s loaded up in Chrome with just a couple of clicks or taps.

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:

QR Code being scanned in a car dealership showroom
  • Digital brochure for that vehicle
  • Video review or walkaround of that model
  • Video highlighting an F&I product such as Appearance Protection
  • Model landing page on your website
  • VDP for that specific vehicle
  • VRP with available inventory for that model

VIRTUALLY CONNECT ON THE LOT

With some folks being more weary of being inside a building for an extended period of time, shoppers might feel more comfortable wandering your lot, especially after hours and on weekends. 

Scanning a QR Code on a vehicle on a car dealers lot

Just because these folks are out there alone, that doesn’t mean you can’t virtually be there to assist 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):

  • Video from your owner or GM welcoming them to your dealership and explaining your health and safety protocols
  • Easy way to connect with someone inside the dealership via chat
  • Instant trade-in evaluation experience powered by Conversations™

GENERATE REVIEWS

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. 

QR Code on a business card

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.

Scanning a QR Code on a mailer sent out by a car dealer

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 with new and pre-owned vehicles, include a QR Code that’ll allow someone to get an Instant Trade-In Evaluation via Conversations™, which will also generate a high quality lead for your team to follow up with.

Take it a step further and allow 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.

And of course as things start to open back up in your area and your dealership again becomes active in the community with your grass roots marketing efforts, you can use QR Codes just like we did back in the day to drive sign ups for a giveaway.

BONUS #PROTIP: TRACK WITH UTM CODES

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. That’s one sure 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

Jason Stum
Jason is the Director of Strategy at Dealer Inspire. Having previously held dealership roles in Sales, Business Development and Digital Marketing, Jason combines his dealership experience with his love for marketing to position Dealer Inspire's products and services within the auto industry. Oh, and Star Wars...he really likes Star Wars.

We're Here For You

Stay up to date

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.