How do QR code tracking and analytics work?

QR code tracking lets you collect real-time information about the status of your QR codes. This includes location, total number of scans, demographic data, and scanning device information. Collected metrics and statistics can help you optimise your marketing campaigns and achieve business goals.

Nowadays, many products, deals, and ad spaces include QR codes. With up to 2,500 characters, these codes can contain a wide variety of information, including the following:

  • Text
  • Payments (QR code payment)
  • Audio and video files
  • Tickets and certificates
  • Advertising
  • URLs
  • Information
  • Promotional information
  • Contact information
  • Augmented reality integration

Companies that know where, when and how often people scan their QR code have a clear competitive advantage. Knowing whether customers read a QR code on a PC or scan a QR code with their smartphone is important information. Unlike OCR software, QR codes not only integrate diverse content, but also collect important data. For example, you can use demographic, geographic, and technological metrics to create analyses of purchasing, search, and user behaviour. You can also use QR code tracking to effectively optimise marketing and advertising strategies and tap into unrecognised growth opportunities.

Static vs. dynamic QR codes

Not all QR codes offer tracking technology. That’s why it’s important to first understand the difference between static and dynamic QR codes.

Static QR codes (not trackable)

A static QR code offers many advantages but isn’t suitable for QR code tracking. As a rule, a static QR code contains a URL that provides a direct link to the target. That’s why the content of the QR code can neither be edited nor converted into a dynamic QR code at a later point in time.

Still, static QR codes have some advantages:

  • No expiration date: as long as the URL contained in the QR code is online, the QR code will remain active.
  • Unlimited scanning: as long as the URL exists and the server processes the requests, scanning is unlimited and without restriction.
  • Offline reading: if the QR code contains text, event information, contact data, or other data that can be read without a URL, you don’t need an internet connection to scan it.
  • Direct URL redirection: when the QR code is scanned, the URL doesn’t require redirection and can be immediately accessed, provided it’s still online.

Dynamic QR codes (trackable)

QR code tracking requires a dynamic QR code. This option has the following advantages:

  • Change content and target addresses later: a dynamic QR code can be changed during an ongoing advertising campaign. If it contains a typo, content error or an incorrect URL, you can make the necessary changes to ensure accuracy.
  • Privacy-compliant user statistics: campaign success can be measured through real-time data collection. By scanning a QR code, you get important information about users and target audiences based on the IP address, device used, operating system, and location.
  • Limited or date-based advertising campaigns: QR code content can be limited or activated at a specific time. For example, you can initially point to a test or countdown page and then forward to the target URL when the advertising campaign starts.
  • Search for expired URLs: dynamic QR code and QR code tracking providers usually check whether the codes still redirect to the correct URL or to an error 404 dead link.
  • Smaller code size: compared to static QR codes, dynamic QRs are significantly smaller because a URL shortener is used to create them. Fewer characters are embedded in the code, allowing them to use less advertising space than their static counterparts.

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Which QR codes are trackable?

Only dynamic QR codes are suitable for real-time QR code tracking. While static QR codes forward you to a target URL without tracking anything, dynamic QR codes use short URLs or tracking URLs. In other words, you’re redirected via the tracking URL. By doing this, important metrics can be collected to measure success and optimise marketing campaigns and business goals.

Make sure to only use providers that don’t display ads or banners while redirecting. Ideally, you should pick a QR code provider with transparent rates and no adverts. You should also have the possibility to generate or export QR codes.

The benefits of trackable QR codes

Similar to how real-time tracking, data collection and data analytics can lead to greater efficiency, security, and flexibility for logistics and shipping, QR code tracking also offers many benefits:

  • Improve marketing strategies through real-time data and performance analysis
  • Increase brand engagement and optimise your brand building efforts through user interaction
  • Adapt QR code content later if changes need to be made
  • Collect key metrics such as the location and time of scan, scanning device, operating system, and total number of scans to create meaningful infographics
  • Narrow down and identify your target groups and top sales locations
  • Link to Google Analytics to enable automatic data and performance reporting
  • Determine return on investment (ROI) in real time

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Which metrics and statistics can be collected?

Key metrics and statistics obtained from QR code tracking include:

  • Total number of scans: determine how many times the QR code has been scanned over a given time (days, weeks, months). Duplicate scans can be included or excluded. This information lets you determine the ideal location, target group, and times for campaigns and sales.
  • Geographic location of the scan: when the QR code is scanned, the user’s IP address is resolved. This lets you see which regions, cities and countries your campaigns are best received in and where you generate the highest ROI.
  • Time of scans: checking the time of day of scans can help measure success rates and performance reports.
  • Device and operating system used: scans also collect information about the device and operating system (Android or iOS) of the IP address. This lets you focus on a specific device or operating system.
  • Number of unique scans: unique scans represent specific devices (for example, an iOS device) that scan the QR code at a specific time, in a specific location. This helps you distinguish between total scans (including duplicate scans) and unique scans.

The AB test explained

To improve conversions and measure the success of campaigns, companies are increasingly using AB testing. This involves two or more parallel marketing and advertising strategies. The results allow you to directly compare different strategies and help measure the respective success of each strategy with different target markets. You can do this with QR code tracking by using QR codes with slightly modified content, products, call-to-actions, designs and colours, or different URLs. Tracking and data measurement provides real-time performance analysis of parallel campaigns.

QR code analytics with Google Analytics

If you use Google Ads and Google Analytics in combination with QR code tracking, you’ll get important metrics and reports straight to your Google Analytics account. You can do this by linking the QR code’s target URL to your Google account, where you can collect tracking data via set cookies. When users access the online store or product page, you’ll start collecting data.

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Which other tracking software is there?

Besides QR code tracking with Google Analytics or QR tracking providers, these tools are also great solutions:

  • Adobe Analytics
  • Matomo
  • Etracker
  • Mapp
  • Econda
  • Countly
  • Piwik Pro

Here are some of the most important forms of tracking that are used in conjunction with predefined KPIs:

Summary: Greater transparency in digital marketing with QR code tracking

QR code tracking lets you collect important information and performance reports on user behaviour and sales in specific regions or amongst specific target groups. When used for an extended time, collected data offers numerous opportunities to optimise advertising campaigns, sales strategies and business processes. With a wealth of data to learn from, businesses can better equip themselves to achieve their business goals.

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