Best Practices for Using 2D Barcodes

Patti RennerNot long ago, our own Dave Lawson had a great conversation with Julie Ask at Forrester, during which Dave provided her with opinions, statistics and examples for several mobile-specific reports she was working on. I was fortunate to be on the call, taking copious notes.
One of those reports was recently released. “2D Bar Codes: Emerging Role in Sales,” offers an interesting overview of the 2D barcode ecosystem and who seems to be using what method most often. It also includes best practices, pros and cons of specific connectors and more.

Although it’s quick and easy to create a 2D barcode for use (it’s free and usually takes less than 10 seconds), the real challenge comes in using them well to get the best results. Having an experienced partner like Knotice can help – from strategy to design and execution.

Here’s a quick summary of just some of the 2D barcode best practices (many provided by Dave) found in the report. You can purchase the complete version here.

  • Be clear on benefits. Give them a reason why they should scan your 2D barcode. Tell them what they get if they scan… if you’re offering additional or exclusive content, coupons and discounts, etc. In other words, be sure you offer benefits that compensate for the trouble of downloading an application and scanning a code.
  • Tell them what you want them to do. As Dave always says, most consumers will not wake up one day say, “Hey, I think I’ll download a 2D barcode reader today!” Some will hear about the benefits from their friends. More will read a magazine and be interested in the benefit they’ll get (such as exclusive content). Be sure to provide instructions for them to follow, including where to download the right code reader app.
  • Be smart about placement. Be sure to position the product on displays so that the code is the right way up and stable enough for an easy, one-handed scan. You don’t want consumers flipping over boxes or tearing apart displays to get to the code for scanning. Moreover, bar codes should be obvious, but not disruptive to your overall branding and/or required package information.
  • Offer an alternative. Not everyone scans. Some people prefer having the URL directly, or the option of sending an SMS with a short code and keyword to initiate an SMS with an embedded URL. Give people alternatives.
  • Make it a quality mobile experience. If you are going to use a 2D barcode to direct your consumer to a mobile Web page, ensure that it is mobile-appropriate. That means you don’t build it in Flash (many users will have iPhones). Photos, videos, and other content must also be optimized for mobile.
  • Use campaign tracking and analysis You’ll collect rich data through scans (time, location, and code), so use this information to refine your marketing and improve your campaigns. When tracking campaigns to understand the value of a scan and a conversion, factor in the diverse places (magazines, billboards, bus stops, etc.) where they appear.
  • Find the right partner. Finding the right partner – one who is sensitive to your overall strategic approach – will continue to gain importance. There’s great value in positioning your brand as a trusted source for the consumer – using mobile to extend that relationship. Be wary of solutions that challenge credibility with consumers.

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