You must have seen those black and white squares on a magazine ad or plastered on a bus stop bench and they seem like a one-way street to information. Scan it, and you’re whisked off to a website, a video, or a hidden treasure. 

But what if there’s more to the story? What if these seemingly simple QR Codes hold a secret power—the ability to track your every scan, revealing not just where you are in the world, but what piques your curiosity? Dive deeper and discover the truth behind the question: Can QR Codes be tracked, and if so, what secrets do they hold?

Let’s begin!

1. What are QR Codes?

What are QR Codes

QR Codes, or Quick Response codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that can store various information such as URLs, text, contact details, and more. Invented in 1994 by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, these codes were initially used for tracking automotive parts. 

QR Codes consist of black squares arranged on a white background, and they can be scanned using a smartphone camera or a dedicated QR Code reader. 

Once scanned, the encoded information is quickly and easily accessed by the user, making QR Codes a convenient tool for sharing data.

2. The growing popularity of QR Codes

In recent years, QR Codes have seen a significant rise in popularity across various industries. Their ease of use and versatility have made them a staple in marketing, retail, hospitality, and even personal use. 

Businesses use QR Codes to provide instant access to websites, promotional offers, contact information, and more, enhancing customer engagement and streamlining processes. 

The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated their adoption, as contactless solutions became crucial for health and safety. From digital menus in restaurants to mobile payment systems, QR Codes are now ubiquitous in the digital landscape.

A. Understanding QR Code tracking

Understanding QR Code tracking

1. What is QR Code tracking?

QR Code tracking is the process of collecting and analyzing data on how, when, and where QR Codes are scanned. 

These numbers help businesses and marketers can gain valuable insights into user behavior, campaign effectiveness, and overall engagement.

Tracking QR Codes involves using advanced analytics that record various metrics each time a QR Code is scanned. This data helps organizations make informed decisions, optimize their marketing strategies, and enhance the user experience.

2. How QR Code tracking works

QR Code tracking works through a combination of unique URLs and analytics software. Let’s understand them in detail. The ability to track QR Code scans depends on the type of code generated. Online QR Code generators offer two main options: static and dynamic

Static vs. Dynamic QR Codes: Understanding the distinction for data-driven decisions

Static vs. Dynamic QR Codes

There are two main types of QR Codes: static and dynamic.  Both can be scanned with a smartphone to reveal information, but they differ in their tracking abilities and how easily you can change the information they contain. 

I. Static QR Codes: Simplicity 

Static QR Codes serve as a direct digital bridge between the physical world and a fixed piece of information. During generation, the data (URL, text message, etc.) is permanently embedded within the code’s structure. 

Static QR Codes are easy to create and require minimal effort. However, static codes come with some limitations:

  • No Tracking: User interaction data is not captured, which simply means that you cannot analyze your previous campaigns
  • No Updates: Once generated, the encoded information cannot be updated which means that if you want to fix any typos or update any outdated links, you will need to regenerate a new QR Code

II. Dynamic QR Codes: Flexibility and insights

Dynamic QR Codes are pretty cool and super useful! 

Unlike static ones, which store fixed information, dynamic QR Codes are editable even after their creation. This means you can update the content they point to without changing the code itself. 

For example, say you use a dynamic QR Code on a flyer to link to a website. Sometime later you want that same code to link to a different page or even a different website. With a dynamic QR,  you can easily make that change.

This flexibility is great for marketing campaigns, business cards, or any situation where you might need to update your information.

Plus, dynamic QR Codes can provide analytics, like how many times they’ve been scanned, which can be really helpful for tracking engagement. So, they’re not just versatile; they’re smart too!

This approach unlocks valuable functionalities:

  • Tracking Analytics: Data about scans (number, location, time) is captured, enabling campaign performance evaluation and optimization.
  • Content Editing: The power to update the content within the QR Code serves many purposes. This eliminates the need to reprint codes due to typos or changes in target content.

C. Benefits of tracking QR Codes

Benefits of tracking QR Codes

1. Measuring engagement

Tracking QR Codes is a great way for businesses to measure engagement precisely. By seeing how often a QR Code gets scanned, markets can tell how well their campaigns are doing. 

If a QR Code has a high scan rate, it means people are really interested and interacting with it. On the other hand, if the scan rate is low, it might be a sign that the QR Code’s content or placement needs a rethink. 

This kind of data is super helpful for marketers to figure out which campaigns are hitting the mark and which ones might need some tweaking.

2. Understanding user behavior

QR Code tracking gives businesses valuable insights into user behavior. By looking at data like where and when scans happened, devices used, browsers used, etc. you learn a lot about user preferences and habits. 

For instance, if many scans come from a particular area, it could mean there are lots of interested customers there. Knowing these patterns helps businesses tailor their marketing strategies and content to better match what their audience wants and needs.

3. Optimizing marketing campaigns

With detailed tracking data, marketers can fine-tune their campaigns for better results. QR Code analytics show which marketing materials are the most effective and which channels drive the most engagement. 

This information lets you allocate resources efficiently, focusing on strategies that work best. 

Plus, real-time tracking means you can quickly adjust ongoing campaigns to keep them relevant and effective. Overall, QR Code tracking helps marketers refine their tactics and boost their marketing performance.

D. Types of data collected

Types of data collected

1. Scan location

One of the key metrics collected through QR Code tracking is the scan location. By identifying where users are when they scan the QR Code, you can pinpoint geographic areas with high engagement. 

This data helps businesses understand regional differences in interest and tailor their marketing efforts accordingly. 

Imagine you run an online bakery and include QR codes on flyers promoting your new cupcake line. You notice a high number of scans coming from a specific office building. This might indicate a high concentration of potential customers who work there. Based on this data, you could:

  • Target nearby office buildings: Deliver samples or offer special discounts to office workers in that area.
  • Run targeted social media ads: Create ads promoting your cupcakes and target them to users in the zip code of the office building with high scan rates.
  • Partner with the office building: Approach the building management and explore options like setting up a pop-up bakery or offering bulk discounts for corporate events.

2. Time and date of scans

Tracking the time and date of each scan provides insights into when users are most likely to engage with QR Codes. This information can reveal patterns in user behavior, such as peak times during the day or days of the week when engagement is highest. 

Marketers can use this data to schedule campaigns more effectively, launching promotions or content during periods of high activity to maximize impact.

3. Device type and operating system

QR Code tracking also captures information about the device type and operating system used to scan the code. This data helps businesses understand the technology preferences of their audience. 

For instance, a higher number of scans from smartphones compared to tablets might indicate a preference for mobile engagement. Knowing the prevalent operating systems (iOS vs. Android) can also guide app development and compatibility decisions, ensuring a seamless user experience across all devices.

4. Number of scans

The total number of scans is a fundamental metric in QR Code tracking. It provides a clear measure of overall engagement and interest in the content linked to the QR Code. 

Did you know?

The number of QR Code scans reached 26.95 million globally in 2022-2023.

Source: ProfileTree

A high number of scans suggests that the QR Code is effectively capturing the audience’s attention, while a low number may indicate the need for adjustments in the marketing strategy, such as better placement or more compelling calls-to-action. 

5. Scans by exact GPS location

Some builders offer pinpoint location data which can be powerful. Imagine a restaurant chain seeing QR code scans near a university – a potential new market for targeted promotions.

6. Browsers used

Tracking the browser used for scanning reveals how users access the information. A high number of mobile browser scans suggests smartphone engagement. This can influence website design and optimization for various devices.

7. Tracking user behavior

Tracking features of QR Codes when used for events can reveal user actions after a scan. Examples include:

  • Link Clicks: See which links users click on the linked webpage, revealing user interests.
  • Button Clicks: Analyze button interactions to understand user intent and optimize the user journey.
  • Attendee details: When and how often people visited your events and when was the footfall highest?
  • Scroll Depth: Track how far users scroll, helping you tailor content placement for better engagement.

Monitoring the number of scans over time also helps in assessing the long-term effectiveness of a campaign.

E. Limitations in data collection and how to overcome them

Limitations in data collection
  • Limited data: QR Code tracking itself primarily captures basic information like the number of scans, location (based on IP address), and time. But, it doesn’t tell you anything about the user who scanned it, their demographics, or their reason for scanning.
  • Device dependence: QR Codes require a smartphone or dedicated scanner to be read. This excludes anyone without a compatible device, potentially leading to an incomplete picture of your audience’s reach
  • Privacy concerns: Some users might be wary of scanning QR Codes due to privacy concerns. This can lead to underrepresentation in the data

How to overcome these limitations:

  • Combine QR Codes with other tracking methods: Use QR Codes alongside website analytics or promo codes to gather richer user data. 
  • Lead generation form for insights: With Scanova, you can see the lead data captured via lead-generation forms. You can view the total leads, conversion, and lead source (QR Codes). It is also possible to export the Leads data in CSV format for further analysis. This way you can get more insights into users’ intentions and why they scanned the QR Code
  • Dynamic content: Utilize dynamic QR Codes that can change the destination URL based on user demographics or location to get more targeted data
  • Clear calls to action: Clearly explain what the QR Code leads to before users scan it. This reduces unnecessary scans and improves data relevance
  • Data Privacy: Consider choosing a trusted QR Code generator such as Scanova, which adheres to robust data security standards. (See Privacy and ethical considerations for more details)

F. Case studies and examples

Case studies and examples

Numerous companies have leveraged QR Code tracking to enhance their marketing campaigns successfully. For example, Starbucks launched a summer promotion by placing QR Codes on their product packaging. 

By tracking these codes, they were able to measure which regions had the highest engagement and which products were most popular. The data collected allowed them to tailor their marketing strategies, resulting in increased sales and customer interaction. 

Another case is Sephora which used QR Codes in their window displays and tracked scans to determine the effectiveness of their visual merchandising. This helped them optimize store layouts and improve the shopping experience.

In the retail and e-commerce sectors, QR Code tracking has become a valuable tool for understanding customer behavior and optimizing sales strategies. A well-known retail chain by the name of Equifruit implemented QR Codes on their packaging, linking to product reviews and detailed information. 

By tracking these codes, they gained insights into which products garnered the most interest and during which times customers were most engaged. This data helped the chain refine its promotions and improve inventory management. 

Equifruit is Canada’s leading banana importer, hence the need for improving efficiency and accessibility became quite evident. To achieve these goals, Equifruit partnered with Scanova

Equifruit used QR Codes on their packaging to drive traffic from packaging to their website and social media handles directly. Customers appreciated the convenience of accessing product information, websites, and more via QR Codes

Equifruit gained valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences through QR Code scans and made informed decisions regarding offerings and strategies. 

The ability to create dynamic QR Codes helped them save printing and marketing material costs. Their marketing team found it easy to work with Scanova’s QR Code Generator. They felt that Scanova’s interface was user-friendly and easy to use.

The implementation of Scanova’s QR Code Generator had a significant impact on Equifruits’s operations and customer engagement.

Using Scanova, they received over 7000 scans, on just 33 QR Codes 

They achieved a year-on-year growth of +37% (2022-23) in terms of scans and the count is only going up. 

Event organizers have also benefited from QR Code tracking, particularly in ticketing and attendee management. The Coachella Arts and Music Festival used QR Codes on their tickets, allowing attendees to scan their way into the event. 

By tracking these scans, the organizers were able to monitor entry times, manage crowd control, and enhance security. Additionally, they used QR Codes to gather feedback from attendees, offering incentives for scanning and completing surveys. 

This real-time data collection helped the organizers improve the event experience and plan for future festivals. Similarly, a conference utilized QR Codes for session check-ins, tracking which topics were most popular and adjusting future agendas accordingly.

G. Privacy and ethical considerations

Privacy and ethical considerations

1. User consent and transparency

QR Codes are awesome, but with great code comes great responsibility (just kidding, but kinda!).  When you track scans, it’s important to be upfront with people about what’s happening.

 Here’s the deal:

  • Be Clear: Tell folks what data you’re collecting (like how many scans and maybe even where they are, roughly speaking)
  • Privacy Matters: Show people your privacy policy (it’s like the rulebook for your data) and make it easy to find.

By being transparent, you build trust. People will be more likely to scan your QR Codes and even give you feedback if they know you’re playing fair with their data.  Think of it as a QR Code of conduct! You can even add a little disclaimer near the code itself, letting people know you track scans and have a privacy policy for the details.

2. Data security measures

Ensuring the security of the data collected through QR Code tracking is essential to protect user privacy. Implementing robust data encryption, secure servers, and regular security audits can safeguard against unauthorized access and data breaches. 

It’s also important to comply with relevant data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These measures protect user information and enhance the credibility and reliability of your tracking practices.

Safety and security are important factors when considering using a QR Code generator, whether for your business or personal use.

Scanova has many safety and security features, that includes:

  • ISO 27001 certification, by the well-reputed firm BSI
  • SOC2 certification
  • GDPR compliant

You can know all about it by tapping here!

Trycon's robust Security compliance

3. Balancing tracking and user privacy

The online QR Code generator you utilize typically provides a dedicated dashboard for viewing your code’s tracking statistics. When you choose a QR Code generator like Scanova which has so many data security compliances, you are showcasing to your users that you are secure and you can be trusted with user data.

This dashboard offers insights into the total number of scans, the number of unique scans (indicating distinct devices), and potentially even granular breakdowns by location and time of the scan.

Web UI _ Analytics _ Day & Time Graph

Choosing the Right QR Code Generator:

The selection between static and dynamic codes depends on your specific requirements. If your primary focus is cost-effective, simple information dissemination, and offline functionality, static codes would work just fine. However, for scenarios where data analysis, campaign optimization, and content flexibility are crucial, dynamic QR Codes offer a clear advantage.

It’s important to note that not all online QR Code generators offer tracking features. When selecting a generator, ensure it supports dynamic QR Code creation if you require scan-tracking capabilities. This will allow you to leverage the valuable data these codes can provide.

Scanova’s QR Code Generator lets you create unlimited dynamic QR Codes, which greatly aids in your marketing and promotional efforts.

G2 Testimonial of Scanova

Also, consider how well each plan supports customers and what extra features they offer. This will help you pick the best option for your needs and budget!

Scanova's Brand Testimonial Review

Scanova provides a free trial and a reliable customer support team to help you choose the right plan for you. Tap here to know more!

Trusted by

H. Future trends in QR Code tracking

Future trends in QR Code tracking

1. Enhanced data analytics

The future of QR Code tracking will see a significant boost in data analytics capabilities. Advanced analytics platforms will provide deeper insights into user behavior and engagement patterns. 

Businesses will be able to analyze vast amounts of data with greater precision, identifying trends and making more informed decisions. Enhanced data visualization tools will make it easier to interpret complex data, allowing for quicker and more effective strategy adjustments.

2. Integration with AI and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will play a crucial role in the evolution of QR Code tracking. AI algorithms can predict user behavior, optimize scan rates, and personalize user experiences based on historical data. 

ML models can analyze scan data to identify patterns and make recommendations for improving marketing campaigns. This integration will enable businesses to automate and refine their QR Code strategies, driving higher engagement and conversion rates.

3. Real-time tracking and insights

Real-time tracking and insights will become increasingly important as businesses seek to respond to user interactions instantly. Future QR Code tracking systems will offer live data feeds, allowing marketers to monitor scans as they happen. 

This immediacy will enable quick adjustments to campaigns, such as changing promotional offers or updating content based on user responses. Real-time insights will enhance the agility and responsiveness of marketing efforts, leading to more dynamic and effective campaigns.

4. Importance of tracking in modern marketing

As marketing becomes more data-driven, the importance of QR Code tracking will continue to grow. Accurate tracking provides invaluable feedback on campaign performance, helping businesses understand what works and what doesn’t. 

With the ability to track user interactions in detail, marketers can create more targeted and personalized campaigns. QR Code tracking will remain a vital tool in the modern marketer’s arsenal, driving engagement and optimizing marketing spend.

I. Best practices for effective QR Code Tracking

Best practices for effective QR Code Tracking

1. Use dynamic QR Codes

Dynamic QR Codes allow you to change the destination URL without altering the QR Code itself. This flexibility makes it easy to update your campaigns and ensure that your QR Codes always lead to relevant content. Dynamic QR Codes also support better tracking and analytics.

2. Ensure mobile optimization

Since most users scan QR Codes with their smartphones, it’s crucial to ensure that the landing pages are mobile-friendly. Optimize your content for mobile devices to provide a seamless user experience, which can lead to higher engagement and conversion rates.

3. Provide clear calls-to-action

Make sure your QR Codes include a clear call-to-action (CTA) that tells users what to expect when they scan the code. Whether it’s “Scan to get a discount” or “Scan to watch a video,” a clear CTA increases the likelihood of engagement.

4. Regularly analyze and adjust

Continuously monitor the performance of your QR Codes and analyze the data collected. Use these insights to make informed adjustments to your campaigns. Regular analysis helps you stay on top of trends and ensures that your QR Code strategies remain effective.

5. Prioritize user privacy

Ensure that your tracking practices comply with data privacy regulations and prioritize user consent and transparency. Clearly communicate what data is being collected and how it will be used. 

Respect user privacy to build trust and foster positive relationships with your audience. Maintain a readily accessible privacy policy outlining your data collection practices, data retention period, and user rights.

Remember: Transparency and user control are paramount. Always prioritize user privacy when using QR code tracking.

I. FAQs: Can QR Codes be Tracked? 

FAQs: Can QR Codes be tracked?

1. Can QR Codes be tracked?

Yes, QR Codes can be tracked. By using dynamic QR Codes and URL shorteners with tracking capabilities, businesses can monitor various metrics such as the number of scans, location, time and date of scans, and the devices used.

2. What information can be collected through QR Code tracking?

QR Code tracking can collect information such as scan location, time and date of scans, the number of scans, and the type of device and operating system used to scan the QR Code. This data helps businesses understand user behavior and the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

3. How does QR Code tracking work?

QR Code tracking works by embedding a unique URL within the QR Code. When the code is scanned, the URL redirects to a server that records the scan’s details before taking the user to the intended destination. This process captures data about each scan, which can be analyzed later.

4. What are the benefits of tracking QR Codes?

Tracking QR Codes provides several benefits, including measuring engagement, understanding user behavior, optimizing marketing campaigns, and gaining insights into customer preferences. This information helps businesses make data-driven decisions and improve their marketing strategies.

5. Are there any privacy concerns with QR Code tracking?

Yes, privacy concerns can arise with QR Code tracking. It’s essential to ensure user consent and transparency, clearly informing users about the data being collected and how it will be used. Adhering to data privacy regulations and implementing strong data security measures is crucial.

6. Can QR Codes track the location of the user?

Yes, QR Codes can track the general location of the user based on the IP address of the device used to scan the code. This provides an approximate geographic location, helping businesses understand regional engagement.

7. What is the difference between static and dynamic QR Codes?

Static QR Codes contain fixed information that cannot be changed once the code is generated. Dynamic QR Codes, on the other hand, allow the destination URL to be updated without altering the QR Code itself. Dynamic QR Codes also support tracking and analytics.

8. Do users need special apps to scan QR Codes?

Most modern smartphones have built-in QR Code scanners within their camera apps. However, there are also many free and paid QR Code reader apps available for download that offer additional features and functionalities.

9. How can I create a trackable QR Code?

To create a trackable QR Code, use a QR Code generator that offers dynamic QR Code creation and analytics features. These tools typically provide an interface to generate the code and a dashboard to monitor scan data.

10. What should I do if my QR Code tracking data shows low engagement?

If your QR Code tracking data shows low engagement, consider reviewing the code’s placement, the clarity of the call-to-action, and the relevance of the content it links to. Adjust your marketing strategy based on these insights and test different approaches to improve engagement.

11. Can I update the content linked to a QR Code after it has been printed?

Yes, if you use a dynamic QR Code, you can update the destination URL or content without changing the QR Code itself. This flexibility allows you to keep your printed materials relevant and up-to-date.

12. Are there any tools available for QR Code tracking?

Yes, there are many tools available for QR Code tracking, including paid and free options. Popular tools include Bitly, Google Analytics, Scanova, QR Code Generator, and QR Stuff. These tools offer various features for creating, managing, and analyzing QR Codes.


QR Code tracking offers numerous benefits for businesses looking to enhance their marketing efforts. From measuring engagement to understanding user behavior and optimizing campaigns, the data collected through QR Codes is invaluable. As technology advances, QR Code tracking will become even more sophisticated, with enhanced analytics, AI integration, and real-time insights shaping the future of marketing. By following best practices, businesses can effectively leverage QR Code tracking to drive engagement, improve customer experiences, and achieve their marketing goals.

Categorized in: