Blog How app marketers can leverage QR code m...

How app marketers can leverage QR code marketing


In 1994, Japanese engineer Masahiro Hara invented the quick response (QR) code for the automotive industry, likely unaware that the technology would eventually penetrate many other industries. QR codes were adapted more readily in China and APAC, with regional tech companies like Alibaba and WeChat utilizing the technology since 2011. The recent pandemic skyrocketed QR code use, with many of us now familiar with QR codes providing access to contactless menus, flight boarding passes, and payments. QR code use will only grow as, according to Statista, by 2025, there will be 99.5 million people in the U.S. using QR codes on their smartphones.

App marketers and developers can leverage this familiarity to increase their marketing reach. After reviewing the benefits and QR code advertising examples we’ve gathered, we’ll walk you through how to get started on your QR code campaign for your app, including a look at the hottest trend—QR codes for CTV ad campaigns.

Estimated number of U.S. smartphone users using QR codes

Why utilize QR codes in your app marketing?

A QR code is way users or potential users can engage with your app. As each marketing campaign has a unique goal, QR codes can be used in a variety of ways to achieve these specific goals. We’ve listed the most significant goals app marketers use QR code campaigns to achieve.

Grow brand awareness

QR codes are an excellent means by which you can bring users from the physical world into the digital world of your app. Companies are painting and printing QR codes on billboards, buses, magazines, and more to reach consumers in their everyday lives. Curious users will scan the code to learn more about a company and its offerings.

Boost user acquisition

Standing out from the competition in the app store isn’t always easy. QR codes provide a gateway for companies to take potential users directly to their app in the app store, removing the need for users to search in the app store. Driving downloads is the number one reason app marketers use QR codes. But as you can see, improving user acquisition isn’t the only use of QR codes.

Improve user experience

A major win for QR codes is that they offer marketers the ability to deep link to specific in-app locations, thereby saving users time and energy to locate the page themselves. Note that Adjust is one of the few MMPs offering marketers the ability to deep link. Our LinkMe feature allows you to send users to a specific landing page to drive conversion

Retarget users

Often companies use QR codes in their ads on social media—from Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even Google Ads, to recapture potential leads who have yet to convert. As you likely already know the motivators retargeted audiences have, you can better adapt the QR code campaign to their interests for successful reacquisition.

Note the difference between static and dynamic QR codes

Before going further, it’s essential to differentiate that not all QR codes are the same. There are two types of QR codes available to marketers: static QR codes and dynamic QR codes.

Static QR code

A static QR code has information that has been permanently encrypted and has an embedded URL with a fixed destination. This means you cannot edit the information on it. It should also be noted that a static QR code is not trackable.

Dynamic QR code

Alternatively, a dynamic QR code has a short URL embedded in the code, redirecting the user to the destination website URL. While the short URL will always remain the same, marketers can change the destination URL at any point after the code has been generated. In addition to being editable, dynamic QR codes are also trackable, providing insights such as how many times the code was scanned or on which type of devices were used to scan the code.

How are brands using QR codes?

For those of you wondering, “Are QR codes effective in marketing?” With the right strategy in place, the answer is yes. Review these QR code advertising examples for inspiration for your app business.

CTV ad example

In February 2022, cryptocurrency company Coinbase went wide for its Super Bowl ad. The company aired a 60-second QR code bouncing around the screen, a hat tip to the bouncing DVD meme. Coinbase received more than 20 million hits on its landing page in one minute and the page even crashed for a time. Users who scanned the QR code were taken to’s website and offered US$15 in Bitcoin and a chance to win one of three US$1 million prizes if they created a Coinbase account. The app climbed from 186th on the Apple App Store to the 2nd slot.

Psst—If QR codes within CTV ads peaks your curiosity, check out QR codes - the key to scaling Connected TV ads on YouTube for more QR code marketing ideas.

Steam Mobile App adds QR code login option

In October 2022, the Steam Mobile App relaunched its app showcasing improved design and user experience. The app belongs to the online gaming platform Steam and allows users to browse Steam’s games, download them to their PC remotely, and chat with friends. In addition to revamping design, the Steam Mobile App now offers two-factor authentication with multiple login options, including allowing users to scan a QR code in the app or sign in confirmation. The easier and more secure it is for users to log into your app, the more likely it is they won’t get frustrated when opening your app and churning.

Chick-fil-A’s digital signage and drive-thru delight

Fast-food restaurant, Chick-fil-A saw a 14% increase in downloads of its app after it implemented a QR code in the digital signage outside of its chain restaurants. The creative with the code promised a discount for those installing the eatery’s app. Customers would scan the code with their smartphone and be taken directly to the app store to download the Chick-fil-A app.

More recently, the company announced it would allow customers to order in the Chick-fil-A app and select “drive-thru express”. Once at the selected restaurant, the customer would scan the QR code linked to the express lane and a server would bring their order to their car.

Instagram lets users share reels, locations, and posts

In August 2022, Instagram announced that users can now share anyone’s reels, profiles, tags, locations, and posts via a QR code. This allows individuals and businesses to share specific content. For example, your brand’s Instagram account can tease a new product by posting a QR code that leads people to a specific landing page describing the product’s benefits. Additionally, if your marketing strategy includes influencer marketing on Instagram, then you can ask your selected influencer(s) to share the campaign’s QR code when they promote your app campaign.

How to get started with QR code app marketing

Once you settle on a QR code campaign idea, put it into action with the following steps:

  1. Decide where your QR code will take the user: Which specific landing page or app page?
  2. Create the QR code, choosing either a static QR code or a dynamic QR code.
  3. Craft creative copy that entices the user to scan the QR code, taking into consideration the target audience and where the QR code will be shown.
  4. Launch your app’s QR code campaign for a predetermined period of time so you can monitor and test the results.
  5. Track and optimize your campaign based on your results.

Speaking of tracking your QR code campaigns, if you want to know how Adjust helps our clients create and track QR codes, check out this QR code documentation. On a larger scale, we help app marketers and developers around the world measure, analyze, and automate all of their campaigns. Request your demo here.

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