5 Ways An SMS Call to Action Trumps a QR Code

4 minute read

Upland Admin

Mobile campaigns are all the rage these days. Some ask us to take out our phone and scan a QR code and some as us to text in a keyword to a short code.  But what exactly is the difference, and how do they work?

A QR code is a unique pattern of black-and-white squares found on marketing materials, such as a poster, bus stop advertisement, or flyer. A QR code is typically accompanied by a call to action that asks people to scan the code with their smartphone to learn more about a

product, service, or other offering. Once scanned, users are redirected to a mobile link on their smartphones.

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A text message call to action is a message that can be found printed on marketing materials or heard on the radio, TV, or live in person.. However, instead of asking people to scan a code with their phones, people are asked to send a text to a shortcode with a “keyword” as the message. An example of a text message call to action would be: “Text PANDA to 877877”. Once a mobile user texts in the keyword, they are opted in to receiving text messages from that shortcode.

So do QR codes have any advantage over text messaging campaigns? Here are five advantages of an SMS call to action:

1) Everybody knows how to text

Text messaging is used and understood by everybody, everywhere. All you have to do is read, type a reply, and hit send. Over 90 percent of the US population texts daily. However, only six percent of people scan a QR code every month! That’s because QR codes just aren’t a part of everyday life. Few people understand exactly what they are or how to use them.

2) Text messaging is convenient

Text messages are accessible. They can be sent anytime, anywhere, on any phone.


But QR codes require a smartphone, an app download, and a basic understanding of the technology. Scanning QR codes also come with a legion of physical barriers. They must be scanned by one person at a time, and often require multiple attempts to get the right angle. In order to scan a QR code, you have to stand still, adjust your focus, have good lighting, and so on.

3) Text messages create a conversation

Text messaging offers the invaluable service of a two-way communication channel. By letting mobile users send and receive messages, SMS keeps them consistently engaged with your organization. With text messaging, users are encouraged to respond to information – not just read it.

QR codes, however, can only provide a one-time link that makes it difficult to prompt any further actions once mobile users leave the website.

4) Broadcast your SMS call to action on any media

A text messaging short code can be advertised anywhere. On the radio, television, or subway. You can verbally announce your mobile CTA at live events, post it on social media, and even share it over email.

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But QR codes don’t (and can’t) have a presence in any of these very important marketing channels, simply because they are a physical image that must be printed off and scanned.

5) SMS calls to action are easy to share with friends

A text messaging shortcode is easy to read, easy to remember, and easy to hand off to other people. By sharing your shortcode with friends, you can grow your mobile list and reach even more people. The Upland Mobile Messaging platform has a feature called Tell-a-Friend that allows people to subscribe their friends to your mobile list with one simple text message!

But it’s impossible for people to share the information accessed with a QR code via word of mouth. Phone users can’t memorize a QR code the same way they can a text message call to action.

At the end of the day, one thing is clear: that text messaging trumps QR codes by a long shot. If you’re interested in your own mobile call-to-action, contact us today.

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