QR codes seem to be everywhere, and you may have wondered at some point whether they are something that your business should use. You may think of QR codes as a way to easily let customers see menus or get a coupon, but they can do so much more than this. An SMS QR code, for example, helps you build your text marketing list by gaining opt-ins and contact information. 

This guide will teach you how to get the most from your SMS QR code to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing campaign

What is a QR code?

The term QR code stands for Quick Response code. This is a type of square matrix barcode that various devices can read. Visually, they are squares with various pixels of black and white as opposed to a traditional rectangular barcode with black and white bars. 

Scanning the QR code with the phone’s camera app brings up a website or piece of information, and QR code scanners are incredibly common across all mobile devices.

Today, QR codes are prevalent for augmented reality, website logins, payments, virtual stores, electronic authentication, loyalty programs, and more.

For example, you may send clients a QR code to their phones for a discount. Then, when they visit your store, you scan the code, and the discount is automatically applied. Another example, especially during COVID, is restaurants having diners photograph a QR code to get a link to the menu instead of handing out physical menus.

One common use is an SMS QR code that opens the scanner’s SMS client with marketing templates for SMS already filled out requesting a product, information, or a reservation, similar to SMS keywords. If you auto-populate the message to your short code, you save the user the hassle of writing the message themselves. They only need to click send. This makes it a better alternative to advertising a keyword or just your phone number. 

QR Code on mobile phone

A step-by-step guide to using QR codes in SMS marketing

The process of using a QR code for text messages is pretty straightforward once you decide to use one. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be choosing which program to use to generate a QR code, which is easy to do. 

Step 1 – Create QR code

Before you can use a QR code text strategy, you will have to create the QR code. Numerous programs will do this for you automatically, many of which are even free. A simple web search will show you the various options. 

The process may vary slightly depending on the QR code generator you use, but the general steps are the same across the web. 

Combine your QR code and CTA

Start by planning what you want to do with your QR code and creating an advertisement to encourage users to scan it.

This requires you to think about the content you want to promote and how you will get people to scan the code.

For example, maybe you’ll offer an exclusive discount if they sign up for your text messaging list, so your call to action will be something like “Sign up to save!”.

Work with your marketing team to develop the graphic you will display to advertise the code, but remember that you will have to generate the QR code before adding it in. 

Input your information

Once you know what you want to do with your QR code, you are ready to input the information. For most businesses, you will have the QR code take users to a website of some sort. However, you can also store phone numbers, email addresses, SMS, social media pages, images, or text in a QR code, among other things. You can even have a QR code send users to a PDF.

Go to your chosen code generator when you are ready to generate the QR code for text messages. It will ask you to select the information you want associated with the QR code. For text QR codes, that will likely be a phone number or send users to the SMS app on their phone, potentially with a text message template already filled in.

Then input the information in the relevant field of the generator.

You will also notice you have the option of creating a static or dynamic QR code. The difference is that you can change the data in dynamic QR codes in the future if you need to. This has some benefits as you can change things without reprinting all your advertising with a dynamic code. 

Download your QR Code

Once you have input all the information, click “create QR code” or something similar. You should have an option to print or download the code.

Some QR code generator options will even offer the ability to customize your code at this stage. For example, you can add a frame to the code, adjust the color, change the image format, make social options, or even add your logo to it.

While customizations are cool and eye-catching, not all smartphone cameras will scan them reliably. As such, if you choose to make a customized code, you should also make a plain one.

After downloading the generated QR codes, make sure to test them. 

person looking at QR text

Step 2 – Get your QR codes out there

Once you have your generated QR code, you are ready to advertise it and encourage people to scan it and complete the desired action.

Advertise your QR code anywhere that makes sense to do so. Remember that clients will have to scan it to use the code, so you don’t want to put it in your mobile app. Some good options include:

  • Billboards
  • Bus stops
  • In your store
  • On your store’s window
  • On your website
  • On flyers or brochures
  • On your business card
  • On signage at events
  • On your menu
  • On products 

QR code use cases

As mentioned, the possibilities for using QR code texts are extensive. The following are just some examples, and you can find more in our SMS marketing guide

Make reservations

This use case is as simple as setting up the scanned QR code to open a pre-populated text message asking for a reservation.

A similar option is to use a QR code as a way to have people RSVP to a webinar. 

Provide customer support

Instead of having clients type out your customer support phone number, let them scan a QR code that opens their texting app and creates a message to your phone number or SMS shortcode

Download your app or e-book

For this method, have the QR code open an SMS message already filled in asking for a copy of your e-book, app, or another file. Senders will get the free download, and you will get another number for your contact list. 

QR codes for event management

We already mentioned the option to use an SMS QR code to have attendees RSVP to an event. You can also use them for other parts of event management. For example, for exclusive VIP events, use a QR code that you send to attendees, and they have to scan at the door. 

QR codes for restaurants

The most common use case for restaurants has patrons scanning a QR code to open the menu.

Another widespread use would be having the code open an SMS message to make a reservation. 

QR codes for nonprofit organizations

Perhaps the most common use of a QR code for a nonprofit would be scanning the code to set up a donation. For text message purposes, it could be opening a text with an automated keyword to sign up for a donation. 

QR codes for personal use

You can also get creative with a free QR code for personal use. Some even make QR codes to share a Wi-Fi password at home. You could do that in your store.

Another business option is to use QR codes as part of your loyalty program

Why use a QR code?

These codes are incredibly convenient, but there are some restricting factors that you should keep in mind. 


It costs nothing to implement

You can use a QR code generator for free. There is zero cost with creating it. Your only cost will be advertising the code. 

Works without an internet connection

The codes do not require an internet connection to work unless they take the person to a website. No data is necessary if the code starts a text message, just cell phone service. 

Improves customer communication

Customers will appreciate the boost to communication, such as the ability to scan QR codes to connect with customer support. 


This feature is only available in English

One big caveat is that you can only upload a single set of content when setting up a QR code. This means that your text will likely be in English, leaving out customers with another native language.

However, you can get around this somewhat by creating a separate code for the same feature or service in another language your customers speak. 

Not everyone has a QR reader

While most people can scan a barcode on their phone, not all phones have the necessary reader. 

Send your first message in minutes

Creating a QR code is incredibly quick, and you can send your first message in minutes with Podium’s Free Trial. This program includes everything you need for your SMS campaign and more. 

Isaiah Rendorio
Isaiah Rendorio Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns

Isaiah Rendorio is the Product Marketing Manager for Podium Campaigns—helping local businesses tap into the power of SMS marketing to strengthen customer relationships, increase customer lifetime value, and drive more revenue.

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