Dynamic vs. Static QR Codes: What's the Difference?

Apr 26, 2021
QR code under a magnifying glass

When is it right to use a static vs dynamic QR code? They are as simple to figure out as night and day. Breaking down the reasons and uses, you will be able to figure out in just a few minutes how to make a QR code that is right for your need. Do you want to share your contact information, connect with people on social media, get valuable feedback about your business, or something else? We have the perfect code for you and will tell you the difference between each one to make it simple and enjoyable to create and use.

What is a static QR code?

Static QR codes are codes that cannot be changed once they have been created. The information is fixed and it is embedded into the code itself. They can be scanned many times or you can use them as one-time scans for something like coupons. The scans, however, aren't tracked with QR code generator dashboards. 

Types of static QR codes: Email, Plain Text, SMS, vCard, WhatsApp, and static URL codes.

What are static QR codes used for?

Static QR codes can be used for anything that doesn't change. Тhey are great for e-signatures, business cards with contact information, permanent information on other signs or materials, or one-time use coupons. Please test your codes before printing to make sure they are error-free and will not require any modifications at any point in the future, especially if they will be printed on thousands of marketing materials. 

Putting a static QR code on a business card is a great use case for this type of code. If you want to design business cards with a vCard QR code, make it eye-catching and convenient so clients and colleagues want to scan them. Always test these codes and watch the data pour into the input fields of your phone directly.

Static codes can also be used for coupons and sales promotions. Use static URL one-off codes created in bulk, so that they can easily be scanned by cell phones like a discount code but cannot be used twice per person. The information doesn't change and won't be used a second time. If you don't know how to make a QR code, they are easy to do and only take a few minutes no matter which one you choose.

iPhone with a qr code on screen next to earbuds
Image source: Hillary Black / Unsplash

What is a dynamic QR code?

A dynamic QR code is a QR code with a short redirection URL encoded in it. The information one is trying to communicate isn't encoded in the QR code itself, like with a static QR code (unless it is a static URL code). Instead, the information is on a website, and a dynamic QR code redirects to that website. You can track dynamic QR codes on the analytics dashboard.

Types of dynamic QR codes: dynamic URL, Social Media, Feedback, Image, and PDF.

What are dynamic QR codes used for?

Dynamic QR codes are great for URLs, AR and VR experiences, e-stores, social media accounts, feedback forms, and any content that would be optimized in the future. 

QR codes are always used for payment systems that include invoicing. Nowadays, many insurance and utility companies print QR codes that just need to be scanned to be paid, on their invoices. They are safe to use and very simple.

The hospitality industry has benefited tremendously from QR codes the last few years for contactless service in the following ways: menus, room service, digital displays in their lobbies for nearby attractions that can scan to Google maps with GPS, and more.

blue clique retire machine with lady scanning qr code
Image source: Clique Retire / Unsplash

What is the difference between static and dynamic QR codes?

The main difference between the codes is how they store and communicate the message. With static QR codes, the information is encoded in the QR code itself. With dynamic QR codes, the information is stored on a website and the QR code only redirects users to the link (or in the form hosted online, such as the case of feedback QR codes). Because the data is stored in different ways, there are quite a few differences between the features of static and dynamic QR codes. 

These are the main differences:

Ability to track 

Tracking dynamic QR codes enables marketers to scale and deliver measurable QR code marketing campaigns the way it could never be done before. The information about how many times the QR codes were scanned, which devices were used to do so, and where they were scanned, can be found in the analytics dashboard. Dynamic QR codes are much more suitable for agile marketing campaigns, as they are trackable and easily changeable. A marketing team can quickly adjust the campaigns using data and analytics to continuously improve campaign performance. 

Static QR codes on the other hand can't be tracked on QR code generator dashboards. Since users cannot see any statistics or details of QR codes’ performance, it would be more difficult to measure marketing campaigns. Since static codes are not modifiable or trackable, it is truly challenging to incorporate them into agile marketing campaigns. If it is important for your marketing team to be able to quickly act on the campaign to ensure they focus their efforts on activities that perform the best, then static codes aren't the best solution. 

Ability to modify and fix mistakes

Dynamic QR codes can be modified in case there is a change that needs to be made further down the line. Editing a dynamic QR code is quick and easy and can be done in the dashboard where all codes are kept and organized by folders. With dynamic QR codes fixing typos and mistakes is quick and easy; all it takes is for the code creator to log in to the dashboard and edit the information. 

Static codes are not changeable after they are created and it is not possible to modify either the code itself or the content behind the code. It can be redesigned however if you want to freshen up the look and reprint or post on social media and websites. If your goal is to share codes for only informational purposes, static is a good option. Since static codes cannot be edited once created, a user would need to create a new QR code should he or she wish to correct mistakes. 

Ability to shorten URLs

Dynamic QR codes use short URLs which makes them less complicated in the creation of the squares for slightly faster scanning than with static QR codes. 

Static QR codes can support URLs already shortened with an outside shortener, if you choose to shorten it. It scans a little slower if not shortened but really isn't noticeable.

Ability to generate the codes in bulk 

Bulk QR codes can be made for static or dynamic codes. These are made in a CSV file and then uploaded to the QR code generator.

differences between static and dynamic QR codes

What is better? A static or dynamic QR code?

It depends on the use, objectives you wish to achieve, and the measurements of the success of your marketing campaigns.

If one is looking to create a single-use QR code to share permanent information or short-term announcements and does not require measuring and analyzing the performance of that QR code, a static code will do a great job.

In case one is hoping to create QR codes that will be used on a daily basis and will be a part of a bigger marketing campaign that requires tracking, analysis, and adjustments, one should go for dynamic QR codes. 

We recommend dynamic codes just in case any editing and modifications have to be done, especially in the case of mistakes with printed materials. 

How to make a QR code with Supercode

Step #1: Choose what type of QR code is best for your needs

Types of dynamic QR codes:

Social Media QR Codes - These are fantastic for sharing social media account information to gain followers and interact with your audience. 

Feedback QR Codes - These are interactive feedback forms that customers are taken to by scanning the codes. Supercode offers customizable questions or prewritten categories for any industry with star rating feedback and optional comments that you can see in real-time on Supercode's analytics dashboard. They are great because they are private and you can address any red flags immediately and use the data to improve your products and services. Consumers love businesses that listen and take action. Since there is an optional contact information section you can reach out to them if necessary, even just for a thank you.

Image QR Codes - These show a gallery of images with a CTA button in addition to a link to your landing page so scanners can book appointments, see your work in advance, and view a nicer spread of what you have to offer.

PDF QR Codes - Share pages of content in beautifully designed and written PDFs with your audience, just by scanning a code. Users can store the information in their mobile phones.

Social media and feedback codes are available on accounts with paid plans.

Types of static QR codes:

Email QR Codes - Great for customer service, requests about products and services, complaints, or suggestions.

SMS QR Codes - Can be used for areas with no internet connection. Great for contacting businesses through SMS.

Plain Text QR Codes - These are great for areas without internet connection as well. They can store information up to 300 characters with letters, numbers, and symbols. It's very basic for prewritten information that doesn't lead to an outside web address.

vCard QR Codes- Perfect for inputting your contact information straight into the input fields of your user's mobile phone for error-free data every time. Please test before printing on business cards and other materials. 

WhatsApp QR Codes - Route the QR code straight to the WhatsApp application when scanned in the users' mobile phones with your number automatically prewirtten so no number is mistyped and they receive customer service and sales with with ease.

Static or dynamic:

URL QR Codes - Use these to share websites, VR and AR experiences, e-stores, videos, and future updatable content for dynamic codes. There are also static URL codes that cannot be modified.

Bulk QR Codes - Import information through a CSV or Excel file to make many codes at once. These can be static or dynamic and are perfect for registration for events, or coupons. The creation process is slightly different so please check out how to make QR codes in bulk here.

For example, let’s choose to create a dynamic URL QR code:

create a qr code on supercode
Image source: Supercode QR Code Generator

Step #2: Add information and choose between a dynamic or static QR code

The second step is to enter the information that the QR code will store or redirect to. Depending on your intentions choose static for prewritten, non-changing goals or dynamic for editable, trackable objectives. 

Always check for spelling errors and other details at this moment, before moving on. Static codes especially, as they can't be modified.

Please note that the type of information you will be adding at this step will also depend on the type of code. Here we are continuing with the dynamic URL code and entering the link we would like to redirect our customers to. At this stage, one can also name the code and save it to a customizable folder. 

create a url qr code on supercode
Image source: Supercode QR Code Generator

Step #3: Modify your design

After creating your code, modify the QR code design, make a frame (always include a clear call to action so customers know what to expect and why this QR code is valuable to them), and add emojis or your brand logo and colors to make it stand out. This is how to make a QR code that is eye-catching and intriguing to the customer.

This stage is exactly the same for static and dynamic QR codes as the design tool is suitable for all types of codes. Just keep in mind, that while you can change the look of your QR codes later on, the static code itself cannot be modified once it is created and saved in the dashboard. 

modify qr code design on supercode
Image source: Supercode QR Code Generator

Step #4: Save the code

Once you are happy with the design, simply press the “Next” button and your code will get saved on the dashboard. 

save the qr code on supercode dashboard
Image source: Supercode QR Code Generator

Step #5: Place in a folder (if you haven’t done so when creating the code)

Save your code to a folder so your marketing team has a clear view of how the QR codes are organized. This can be done when you create the code (step 2) or move to a folder now. Supercode's folder system is simple and customizable. Don't lose and confuse your codes unnecessarily.

save qr code in folder on supercode
Image source: Supercode QR Code Generator

Step #6: Test the code

Test your code. This step is important to avoid errors. To test, simply scan the code with your phone and you will see it in action. 

Step #7: Print the code

Make sure that a sample material is printed for testing before printing on thousands of flyers that are glossy and reflective and don't scan or have errors. Codes that are too small or in areas that aren't very visible can be deterring to scanners. They aren't complicated to print but we do have a thorough QR code printing guide to assist.

Step #8: Track the code

Track your codes on the analytics dashboard so you can see from where people have scanned and when.

This is only available for dynamic QR codes. 

supercode analytics dashboard with qr code
Image source: Supercode QR Code Generator

In summary

Now that you have learned about the difference between static and dynamic QR codes, you can be confident in your campaigns knowing that you have different options so you can make the perfect codes for your needs. It really comes down to knowing what will benefit you and the audience the most depending on the reason you are making the code.

Sign up for a free 14 day trial of Supercode to experience how QR codes can resolve your digital marketing campaign needs and add value to the customer experience.


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