6.20.2010

2D Barcode Best Practices

As more and more companies learn about 2D barcodes, and look to integrate them into their promotional campaigns and marketing collateral, perhaps a list of best practices might be helpful. Please comment if you know of any others or can make any suggestions to those listed below.
  1. Design: When designing an advertisement, the 2D barcode should not be an after thought. Instead, the barcode itself should be given as much consideration and attention as other elements of the ad's overall design (e.g., type face, image placement, headline copy, etc.). Also, if the barcode is to be considered the ad's call-to-action, which it often is, then all the more reason that the code should be worked into the overall design of the ad from the very beginning.
  2. Placement: The 2D barcode should be placed in an area of prominence on the page, versus other images and or copy. The code should not be buried near the spine of a magazine, for example, which could make it difficult to scan/read, let alone see in general. Also, it is important to ensure that there is enough white space around the code, so that the code can be scanned and read properly.
  3. Size: 2D barcodes should be a minimum of 0.75" x 0.75" in size to ensure that they can be scanned with a high degree of accuracy and success.  
  4. Descriptive Copy: Because 2D barcodes are still new to U.S. consumers, companies should consider placing descriptive copy next to the code, which 1) tells the consumer what the code is, 2) how to scan the code, 3) where to download scanning software if not already on the mobile device and 4) what the code will link to. This copy should also be set in a type size that's actually large enough for people to read (i.e., not in footnote size type).
  5. Branded Code: A branded, or customized, 2D barcode is one that incorporates a company's logo or any other image right into the code itself. While this may look interesting and tie into a company's overall brand it can also make the code that much more difficult to scan/read correctly. If a code is to be branded with a logo then the code should be scanned and tested for readability.
  6. Inventory Management: As 2D barcode-based campaigns are created, it is helpful to have some sort of inventory system in place to manage all of the codes that could be generated and used from one campaign to the next.
  7. Metrics: As important and useful as it is to track an email campaign, direct mail campaign, ad click-thru rates, etc., so too should a 2D barcode campaign be tracked, measured and analyzed to determine success rates and ROI.
  8. Testing: To ensure the greatest degree of success, the codes that are generated for a promotional piece should be tested using a variety of scanning software and mobile devices.
  9. Mobile Pages: The mobile pages that are linked to a code should be optimized for mobile viewing. 

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