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QR codes are all the rage, but do they work?


According to my Cobalt client, Lezley Pumphrey, BDC Manager of Motor City Buick GMC, the answer is yes.  Her dealership started using QR codes in November 2011, directed at the Motor City Buick GMC Gateway page for GMC. To date, they have seen a total of over 500 visitors from this new marketing method, a nice bump in traffic.  


Pumphrey states, “At Motor City Buick GMC, we strongly believe in mobile traffic. Consumers no longer wait for an email response from dealerships. They grab their mobile device, research the dealership, and walk-in. The more mobile presence we can get, the better. We are always looking for ways to increase our QR code and Mobile website traffic.”


Lezley is not the only one seeing more traffic thanks to QR codes. In general, I would say dealers have gotten an average of 50-100 extra visitors per month through QR codes if they actively use them. These numbers aren’t huge, but the traffic is relevant and over time makes an impact. In addition these numbers are only expected to grow as the rise of QR codes continues.


In fact, a June 2012 Econsultancy Survey reports that 1 in 2 auto industry marketers are using QR codes to encourage customers to interact with their brand.


As with any emerging media, the big challenge is how to educate your clients and successfully incorporate QR codes into your in-store processes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Incorporate QR code giveaways at dealership events
  • Add a QR code to the last picture of vehicles details page
  • Incorporate QR codes on newspaper ads, monthly newsletters, direct mailers, etc
  • Add QR codes on vehicle stickers
  • Incorporate a QR code on signage in your service department so that people can scan while they wait
  • Place QR codes on the back of business cards for the sales staff – this way they can see a live view of inventory right away if they need it


Making QR codes a natural part of all your marketing can pay off in unprecedented ways when it comes to closing individual car sales, but you have to put in the time and effort to educate your sales staff and your clients.


Just think: a man may be interested in purchasing a car, but he needs to go home and talk to his wife first. The salesperson should have him scan the QR code for that vehicle in inventory so he can quickly and easily show his wife the car when he gets home. In essence, the dealership controls exactly what this man sees when he scans. This can have compelling aftereffects if the consumer is educated on its purpose.  The key is to ensure the sales associate informs the consumer on how to later use the QR code.


Remember, innovation and education go hand in hand. In order to be successful, you need to educate both your staff and your shoppers about how to use these new codes. Start internally at the dealership. Train your staff on how to use QR codes and make sure they are comfortable using them. The same goes for your customers; since QR codes are new to many, it helps to incorporate clear instructions like “Scan this code on your phone to see 327 fresh-on-the-lot vehicles!” You may even want to have a link with a guide on how to scan a QR code. The clearer and easier you make it, the easier it will be to integrate.


Note: Motor City Buick GMC’s QR Codes come from their Cobalt Digital Advertising Packages. They get one QR code per month per package that integrates with their current incentives. They have used these QR codes on mailers, websites, and in the dealership. Learn more about our QR code offering today.


Do you have a great QR story? Share your story below.


By Jessica Terpstra

Cobalt Digital Advertising Analyst II 

Original article can be found here.

Views: 516

Tags: Cobalt, Codes, Dealer Website, Innovation, Marketing, Online, QR, QR Code, Traffic


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Comment by Steve Davern on October 10, 2012 at 9:00am

QR codes do work. offers a digital/targeted print combo and QR codes have produced decent results. It's the perfect complement for print and digital advertising.

Nice post!

Comment by George Nenni on October 6, 2012 at 5:05am

Great post Jessica, you make a number of good points.  I especially like the one about adding a QR code to the last picture of vehicles details page.

Of course we've been using your suggestion of putting them on window stickers for a few years, but just in the last 12 months the clicks have really been climbing for Dealer Specialties customers.  August of 2011 saw and average of about 8 QR code clicks per month, compared to August of 2012 nearly 28 clicks per month.  More than triple the scans on average!  Very easy to do, and solid results.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 6, 2012 at 12:01am

I want to thank Chad Coates at Ken Grody Ford for turning me on to a nifty and FREE QR Code generating and usage tracking online service at - They have an interesting model where you create a microsite that displays links to your dealership website, Facebook Page, YouTube Channel, Twitter Profile and several other social media type connections.  Although I am averse to anything that requires consumers to click too many times to get to a dealer's website, the way YouScan.Me creates a choice for consumers is interesting and worth trying to measure results.  Speaking of which, Chad sent me some screen captures of reports that I will post in a separate blog entry. The tracking and reporting capabilities of this service may make it well worthwhile to implement.  Here are two QR Codes I generated, one for my personal profile and the other for the ADM Professional Community and I linked them to the microsites that YouScan.Me provides:

Ralph Paglia personal QR Code


ADM Professional Community QR Code

Comment by Roosevelt Gist on October 5, 2012 at 1:50pm

Yes, QR codes do work. I've used them as the signature on emails. It's very easy to create your own. Google has a free qr code generator or you can do a search. Scan this one.

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