Is the QR Code Dead in Dealership Marketing?

Is the QR Code Dead in Dealership Marketing?

The average car dealership is in constant pursuit of an effective means of communication with potential car buyers. The QR code is a touch point that, when leveraged properly, can serve as an effective consumer engagement tool. Though many industry professionals would argue that the QR code is no longer relevant, we beg to differ. Not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at how the QR code has evolved over the years and how you can put it to use in your dealership marketing efforts.

A Brief History of the QR Code

The first QR code was invented in 1994 by the Denso Wave Company for use in tracking vehicle manufacturing. It was not until 2010 that a QR scanner application was released for use across a variety of smartphone platforms. Today, QR code technology is being used across a multitude of industries for a wide variety of purposes. However, there is plenty of apprehension among companies and consumers when it comes to QR code use.

Why QR Codes Don’t Work

Though the QR code has been in use for years, Microsoft and others have tried to produce their own versions. The truth is the technology works, and there is no need to change or improve upon it. Improvements to QR code technology instead, lie in the hands of the marketer. Marketers have made countless mistakes over the years, leading to poor user experiences and general consumer apathy.

The Don’ts of QR Code Marketing

Non-Mobile Websites

A QR code, in a business to consumer capacity, is intended to be used on a smartphone. This is precisely why it is important to send traffic to a mobile-friendly website or landing page. When you scan a QR code with your smartphone, only to be lead to a non-mobile site, the information is there, but it’s difficult or often impossible to consume from your phone. Frustrated, you give up and/or forget to seek out the information later. If youre using a QR code in your dealership marketing efforts, be sure and send traffic to a mobile-friendly site or landing page!

Moving Vehicles and other BAD places to post QR codes

Another common misuse of the QR code is to place it on a roadside sign, in a TV commercial, or perhaps even more amusing – on the side of a vehicle. This puts your potential customers at a blatant risk. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to scan a QR code from a moving vehicle. Sure vehicles are often parked… but seriously. Remember, these codes are meant for a specific purpose. Don’t use them as you would a phone number or dealership website. Place them in environments where people can easily use them and where they are likely to have their phones handy.

The Keys to Success with QR Codes

Just as the concept of QR codes is relatively simple, so too is the process of implementing them. It’s simply a matter of delivering a quality customer experience. Before you write off the QR code completely, consider these best practices:

The Do’s of QR Code Marketing

Call to action – use it!

It is highly likely that every marketer reading this has seen a random QR code somewhere in the marketplace with no call to action. Just a lonely code on a page or a sign with no reason to exist, granted this nerd had scanned many of them out of morbid curiosity, but no one else will. So be sure to tell the consumer that they will save money, get a coupon, win something, or gain some utility, if and when they scan.


  • $200 off your next purchase
  • Chance to win your purchase
  • Design the car of your dreams

Provide Instructions

In the North American marketplace most consumers still don’t know how to scan a QR code. So, if you want people to engage with your code, be sure to tell them how. Brief instructions should accompany just about every QR Code.

One great way you can leverage QR Codes on the lot…

After Dark Info

Engaging the after-hours consumers is one of the very best ways to leverage QR code technology in your dealership. Offering a scannable code with additional information about a vehicle is a great way to engage the consumer. Be sure and include a lead form and/or contact information on the landing page as well. You may very well find some of those late night lot visitors to be highly valuable leads. But don’t forget to trade something to get that valuable info: “Provide your contact information and receive an iPad mini with your vehicle purchase”.

Moreover, after dark no one will be there to see your customer scan the QR code. So they will be less embarrassed that they too, are a little bit nerdy.

If you’re looking for new opportunities to engage potential car buyers, you may very well find something in the QR code. However, we remind you to use this technology wisely. When used ineffectively, it can actually serve to hinder the sales cycle and lead to disgruntled customers.