If you look around, anywhere, you are bound to see a 2D barcode or two around. You can find them on direct mail pieces, window banners in retail stores, catalogs and magazines, weekly ads, in-store signage, product packaging, fact tags for products and more. Most recently you might remember the “Egg Hunt” that Old Navy did where you could search for QR codes to scan and reveal offers throughout the store.
They are all around you, and for good reason. 40% of US mobile devices are smart phones. And one thing they are looking for that smart phone to do, is easily and quickly provide them with access to information. Sure, a person can use their smart phone and get on the internet and search for the information they need, OR they can quickly scan a code the immediately directs them to where they want to go. What could be better than that? 2D barcodes and QR codes can direct a customer to an information page, instructional videos or contest pages.
Here are some things that you should know about using QR Codes:
- QR codes are not the only type of 2D barcodes. The most popular 2D barcode formats are QR code, DataMatrix, ScanLife EZcode, and Microsoft Tag (Tag). There are several key differences in these code formats. ScanLife EZcode and Microsoft Tag are proprietary formats only decodable by their tools, while QR and DataMatrix formats are open standard.
- Tools that generate and read 2D barcodes are FREE.
- 2D Barcode Content Should Provide Special Value for the Customer. Take the Old Navy Egg Hunt contest for example, I went into an Old Navy on the day the “hunt” started and scanned all 15 of the codes in store… only to find out that I have wasted 25 minutes of my time for NOTHING. Not only did I have to reenter in my email address every time I scanned a code in store to see if I have won anything, but I got absolutely nothing from it. Not even a “free tshirt” deal or “spend $50 and get $5 off” deal. I felt completely gyped. I spent all that time and only got the same “you haven’t won, but thanks for entering” webpage each time I scanned a code. From a customer experience perspective, this was a TERRIBLE experience. Took way too much time and provided value. However, looking at the code that Victoria Secret put in their Valentine’s mailer, it was a GREAT experience. Not only did it take you to a mobile friendly site of their Valentine’s catalog, but allowed you to easily go from browsing to purchasing without wasting any time. It was a seamless experience and very well executed. Not only was I not disappointed, but was very impressed by it and remember that experience to this day. This is something that companies need to aim for–a memorable experience.
- Small or Complex QR Codes Can’t be Scanned by Smartphones With Lesser Quality Cameras. This is the biggest mistake that marketers are facing right now.
- Consumers need guidance to scan 2D barcodes.
- 2D barcodes can be customized artistically.
I was inspired to write this blog after reading this great article about “The Top 14 Things Marketers Need to Know About QR Codes.” (I highly recommend reading it.) And for the fact that I just got a smart phone about 2 months ago and now don’t know how I ever lived without it… I am drawn to 2D barcodes in store to get me the information I’m looking for quicker. As a marketer, I am also curious to see new ways that companies are using 2D barcodes to promote their products/services.
How have you seen 2D barcodes used??