Everything You Need to Know about 2-D Barcodes

Are 2-D Barcodes Right for Me? Five Questions to Ask Yourself

January 23, 2012 | by Mindy Charski
Catalogs, Creativity, Dimensional Mail, ROI, Social Media, Targeting, Technology, Trends

If you’re thinking about printing two-dimensional barcodes in your catalog, first ask yourself these five questions:

How strong is my mobile presence?

“This is a mobile-based technology, so everything needs to be mobile optimized,” says Roger Marquis, a marketing consultant who authors the 2D Barcode Strategy blog.

You don’t want to link to content that could be disappointingly hard to view on a smartphone’s screen.

Which code will I use?

You can choose among proprietary codes, such as Microsoft Tags, or open-source ones like QR codes. Many vendors generate codes for free but charge for services like analytics.

The capabilities of the codes vary. Some QR codes, like those catalog printer The Dingley Press offers clients, can be subsequently redirected to different content, which is useful if a code is not performing well or if a catalog will be used for a long time.

How will I educate and entice my audience?

Not everyone knows what a 2-D barcode is, so it’s a good idea to offer brief, descriptive copy about what to do with the icon. Also, give your prospective customers reasons to scan.

Brookstone, for example, has used phrases such as “Scan the QR code to see online video” and “See more watch winders online.”

Do I understand my targets’ willingness to scan?

Forrester Research found usage of 2-D barcode readers was highest among adults ages 23 to 45 and those with incomes over $70,000. But don’t assume readers outside those demographics will rebuff the concept.

“I ask [catalog clients], ‘When was the last time you measured your audience?’” says Rob Nowak, director of new technology for The Dingley Press. “Do you really know who they are, because as fast as people and technology are changing and working together — a year ago someone who’s never used [social media] is now doing that.”

Am I willing to take these barcodes seriously?

Bringing customers on an unsatisfying journey can be detrimental. “Every bad experience is going to reflect poorly on the brand more than anything else,” Marquis says, “and it’s going to slow down adoption of the technology that much further.”

Catalogs, Creativity, Dimensional Mail, ROI, Social Media, Targeting, Technology, Trends