2D codes gain ground as mobile marketing tool
During the past year there has been a significant increase in consumer awareness and use of Quick Response (QR) codes - simple 2D barcodes - presenting marketers with a new opportunity to deliver more engaging digital experiences, according to Delvinia.
The company's latest webinar presentation highlighted several do's and don'ts for marketers who are interested in experimenting with QR codes, including tips about their placement, sizing and audience expectations.
Delvinia notes that there are several key factors for marketers to consider when it comes to integrating 2D barcodes into marketing campaigns, including:
- Have an objective Does the execution match a business objective? Don't use 2D barcodes codes simply because everyone else using them.
- Know your audience Is your audience 'tech-savvy'? Will they require additional guidance and education? How have they responded to previous campaigns using mobile or emerging technologies? Do enough of your users even have smartphones?
- Add value Don't waste your users' time. Keep the concept of mobile in mind. Don't duplicate exactly what already exists on your website. If your call to action is simply, "Read or Learn More," think harder about your offer. Leave a good impression with the audience in exchange for their effort.
- Know your 2D barcode and scanning apps Use the type of 2D barcode that will work best for your campaign. At this time QR codes are the most recognizable form of 2D barcodes. They can be scanned by almost every type of 2D barcode scanning app. Other versions of 2D barcodes such as EZ Codes (managed by ScanLife) or Tag (from Microsoft) may better fit your needs depending on usage, size and reporting, but they require specific 2D barcode reading apps.
- Size does matter Once you know where your 2D barcode is being used you can begin to consider its size. If it appears on a billboard where a user may be several metres away, the 2D barcode will have to be bigger. If your 2D barcode is appearing in print obviously the user is much closer. A 10:1 ratio is the recommended standard according to ScanLife. If your user will be 10 metres away, your 2D barcode should be 1 metre in size, or if they will be 20cm away then your 2D barcode can be 2cm in size. There is a minimum acceptable size to ensure 2D barcodes can be read by most phones. QR codes should be in the 2.5cm (or 1 inch) range. ScanLife EZ codes can be as small as 2 cm (or.75 inches) due to their less complex pattern.
- Know your environment Think again about those size requirements, and consider the angle of the signage. Is there internet connectivity? What is the user's behaviour likely to be?
- Keep it simple Minimize the amount of information that will be embedded in the 2D barcode code. If you are sending a user to a mobile web destination, use a URL shortener (such as TinyURL) to simplify the link, or use a simplified 2D barcode that stores the information in a database rather than in the code itself.
- Set expectations Tell the user what they should expect once they scan the code. Make sure the destination is mobile-friendly. Consider the type of media. Sharing audio or video can challenge bandwidth and data plans.
- Include instructions Tell people what the 2D barcode is and how to use it. Point users to the proper mobile barcode reader and instruct non-smartphone users on an alternative way to access content.
- Provide an alternative Consider users who do not have smartphones. Include an alternative URL, but keep that simple as well. You may want to consider a SMS keyword and short code as well.
To find out whether the publicity surrounding 2D barcodes is just 'hype', or whether it could truly be the next big thing in mobile marketing, Delvinia surveyed its AskingCanadians online research panel, and found that:
- While only 20% of smartphone owners surveyed in 2010 could correctly identify a 2D barcodes, by 2011 that number was 86% - a greater-than-fourfold increase. Awareness and understanding has grown dramatically in just one year.
- 85% of those who have scanned a barcode said they would recommend the experience to someone else, suggesting this novel way of accessing mobile content is delivering some value to users. But there is room to grow and improve. Marketers can exploit the opportunities made possible through this great consumer receptivity by delivering the right experience on the other end.
- Almost 40% of smartphone owners have a 2D barcode reader or scanner app installed on their phone and 1 in 5 scan something every week.
- 1 in 2 smartphone owners (with such an app) had scanned a code during the past month.
- Given a choice, 62% of smartphone owners would still prefer to use a URL to access content via the phone, compared to only 20% who would prefer to use a 2D barcode. This suggests that there is still a need to educate users and to improve the overall barcode scanning experience for them. Marketers can make it worth the effort by delivering something unique and of value.
The full collection of presentation slides from the recent '2D Barcodes Are Here: Are You and Your Audience Ready?' webinar can be accessed via Delvinia's web site - click here (Flash presentation; no registration needed).