Beyond The QR Code Scan – Tracking Powered by UTM Codes

We have previously discussed the value in QR codes for getting eyes quickly from a physical print piece to an online destination to answer your call to action. The QR code platforms give you analytics for the number of times the code was scanned, but the codes themselves can’t track what happens after the scan happens. With the power of an analytic UTM variable appended to the end of your destination URL, you will enjoy greater insight into which pages QR code scanners visited after the scan. 

How and why is this useful?

Let’s say you wanted to send direct mail impressions to some prospective customers and drive them online to your info/lead form page. To make it easy for your prospects to get to the correct landing page to act, you put a QR code on the mailer to scan. When setting up the QR code, using a URL without a UTM variable appended to the end of your destination URL, the insight ends there – you only know how many scans.

URL without UTM variable:

Now, we’ll build the UTM variable in Google URL Builder:

URL with UTM variable (a UTM variable is everything after the “?” in the URL):

Using that URL with UTM variable, you can then use your QR code generation platform or app to generate the code and use on your direct mailer:

With a UTM variable at the end of the destination URL, the QR code platform analytics will tell you how many scans.

Then you’ll pivot to your web analytics and view Acquisition>Traffic Acquisition.

From there you can view Session Source>Medium to view the desired Source & Medium used in your UTM variable. In this example, we’re looking specifically for qrcode/directmail.

From there, you can drill deeper into the analytics for specific web pages. Ideally, every marketing channel that drives traffic online for a campaign should have a unique UTM variable. That way, you can see which channels are contributing to the highest number of page visits to conversion pages, not just landing pages.

Pro Tip: Before you mail, make sure to test scan your QR code to make sure it gets to the destination URL safely and without any security issues pertaining to the URL itself. We’ve seen it happen where a website’s SSL certificate expires so HTTPS URLs throw a security error when it didn’t while testing. We’ve also seen expiring domains causing links to fail after testing.

Jenny Lassi • April 4, 2024

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