marketing qr code

QR code tracking: the complete guide

In this article, you will learn how to track scans and get QR Code statistics and analytics

In the last blog post we designed our marketing campaign and created our QR code, it is time to reap the fruits of our labor. Not only additional visits to our site and purchases on our ecommerce, but also very useful data! In fact, through QRs we can get a lot of information about our customers: biographical data, geographical location, interests… There is really a lot we can learn by making the most of the tools at our disposal. Let’s start with the basics.

Fundamental Concepts

What are Dynamic QR Codes

All the QR codes we have considered so far are so-called “static,” meaning that the link they point to is fixed, and consequently always leads to the same content or web page. But there is a way to overcome this limitation: dynamic QR codes. A dynamic QR code, instead of pointing directly to the resource we want to share, points to an “intermediate” link, which we can control at will.

There are two advantages: the first is that this system allows us to insert a shorter link in the QR code, which results in a less complex and therefore more easily readable code; the second is that in case of need we can Divert the QR code to a different page From the one we initially created.

How do you create a dynamic QR? Simply use a shortlink” service, which is a site where we can put our original, perhaps long and complicated link and turn it into a shorter link. The most famous is definitely, but there are plenty of them and they all usually offer a basic free service, such as tinyurl and rebrandly. A structured company should create its own “url shortener” so that it has complete control over user flow. Once you have the shortlink, you will need to use it to create the QR code in place of your original link. You will then have created a dynamic QR code, which you can reprogram as many times as you want!

QR Code A/B Testing

We often find ourselves undecided about which version of the landing page is better: website or ecommerce? Facebook or Instagram? Red button or green button? What is done in these cases is what is known as A/B Testing: two versions of the resource are created and use them in parallel for a certain period, at the end of which we choose the version that gives us the best results, for example in terms of user interaction, and reprogram the “losing” link so that it links to the “winning” resource.

Analytics for QR Code

How do we collect this data? For simplicity’s sake, we will use a free, powerful (though not the easiest to use) and widely used tool: Google Analytics. I’m not going to sit here and explain how to link a site to Analytics-if you chew a little marketing there’s a good chance you’ve already done it, and if not, there are thousands of guides available on the Web.

Campaign management

Now that we have Analytics ready and know how to create dynamic QRs we can create our first campaign. The first thing we need is a way to distinguish visitors arriving via the various QR codes from those arriving in other ways (e.g., from search engines).

UTM Parameters for QR Code

In order to track visitors arriving from QR codes, we will add parameters to our target URLs. Parameters are simply expressions that are added to the end of the web address so that they can be tracked without changing the destination. But let’s look at an example. Suppose we created a QR code leading to our site, and placed it on our business card. Wanting to find out which visitors are coming from the QR code rather than from Facebook, we will not use a single link:

Rather, two different ones, one for the QR code:

And one for our Facebook campaigns:

This will allow Google Analytics to automatically separate the two categories of visitors, and allow us to specifically analyze the performance of the QR code. There are several standard parameters we can use in our links, each with its own function:

  • utm_source: is used to track the origin of the visitor (e.g. QR Code, Google, Newsletter)
  • utm_medium: Identifies the media on which the link is placed (e.g., Email, menu, brochure)
  • utm_campaign: used in ads to distinguish which specific ad campaign the visitor came from (e.g., Christmas_offer)
  • utm_term: used in CPC campaigns (e.g., Google Ads) to distinguish the paid keyword.
  • utm_content: used in A/B testing to differentiate ads or links pointing to the same URL.

I suggest you always use at least source and medium, the most important ones. These fields should be entered in the target link, so before using the short-linking service. A very simple and intuitive tool for doing this is the Campaign Url Builder, available at this link. Enter the link in the first text field, add the various parameters at the bottom, and at the end of the page you will find the final URL, ready to be copied and “shortened.”

In summary

At this point you have all the tools to start your first QR code tests , manage the results neatly, and make decisions based on the data you get.

To recap:

  1. Define a marketing strategy.
  2. Choose QR code destinations and placements.
  3. Add parameters to differentiate the various channels.
  4. Turn the URLs you get into short-links.
  5. Create a QR code for each URL.
  6. Print QR codes in promotional materials.
  7. Analyze the data.

Data analysis

Now that everything is ready, sit back and enjoy the show! As the days go by, you’ll see the numbers increase on Analytics, and after a while you’ll have a good idea of how your QR-code campaigns are doing. But what are the metrics to watch out for? It depends on your core business, but the ones below are definitely among the most important.

Page Views (Total and Unique)

This is probably the most important number of all: How many users scan your QR code? How many of these do so more than once? The number of scans gives us direct feedback on the visibility of the QR code and how interested our audience is in (or able to) scan it. By relating this figure to the total number of QR codes we have in circulation in a given period, we can get another important statistic, the scan rate.

Let’s take an example: we sell 1000 products over the course of a month, and on Google Analytics we get 150 unique visits to the page. This means that our QR code has a scanning rate of 15%, which is very good and well above average.

What to do if the percentage is instead low, perhaps less than 5%? There are several possibilities: the QR code might be inconspicuous or defective, or your product is going strong on a target audience that doesn’t usually scan QR codes, or the display is taking place in a situation where the user is unable to use the phone (such as while driving). To understand what is not working you will have to compare the results with those of other QR codes.

Dwell time

This statistic, expressed in minutes and seconds, gives us an idea of users’ interest in our landing page and their use of it. A long dwell time, perhaps 3-4 minutes, is a good guarantee that the user was interested in our content and stayed to read it all the way through. On the contrary, a short dwell time could mean low interest due to unattractive graphics, difficulty in finding the right content, or even page malfunction.

Origin and Language

These two dimensions are very important in understanding our clientele. The first gives us an idea about the spread of our product in the territory, whether it is regionally or internationally. The second tells us the nationality of the users, allowing us, for example, to know how many of our customers are locals and how many are foreign tourists.

Age and Gender

Analytics provides us with useful demographic statistics about our users, allowing us to identify the segments on which our strategy is having the greatest effect. In fact, we may find that our ideal target audience is men between the ages of 25 and 34, or women between 35 and 44.

Device and operating system

In some cases it may be useful to know which operating system is prevalent in your clientele, for example, between iPhone and Android. For example, if we wanted to develop an App on a limited budget, finding out that 90 percent of our customers use iPhones might make it easier for us.

Now what?

You now have all the skills to track the performance of your QR codes. What are you waiting for to put them into practice?

If this topic interests you and you want to learn more, follow QualityChain on our social channels.




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QualityChain helps Italian agribusiness SMEs transform their products from simple exhibits to true digital experiences capable of enhancing their uniqueness. QualityChain is a transparent, smartphone-friendly space in which to share with consumers the history and values of small Italian producers, a showcase from which to observe the skilled hands that work the land, the wine, the bread, and everything good that our companies produce.

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