Dear Chief Marketing Officer:
Over the past year and a half, I have been actively researching, reporting and consulting on the strategic and tactical use of 2D barcodes (e.g., QR Code, Microsoft Tag, etc.) for advertising, promotion and general business purposes. In conducting this work, I have scanned and analyzed hundreds of 2D barcode-based campaigns, whether they be print, out-of-home, in-store, package, event, direct mail or television and, in analyzing these campaigns, I have found an inordinate amount that deliver a less-than-ideal or a less than favorable 2D barcode and/or mobile experience for the intended consumer audience. In fact, of the campaigns that I have reviewed, the ratio of good campaigns to bad campaigns is approximately 1:3.
If your company makes use of 2D barcodes, do you find this ratio as alarming and upsetting as I and many others in the industry do? If your company doesn't make use of 2D barcodes, and you look at the situation from a pure strategic marketing perspective, doesn't the degree of less-than-ideal or less than favorable campaigns strike you as odd? Odd to the point that red flags should be going up across the board. What if any other marketing-related technology, application, process or vehicle was being used to communicate a message or engage with someone, would you be comfortable knowing that existing or potential customers were interacting with the brand in a less-than-ideal or favorable way? Chances are, I doubt it.
With so much written and discussed on the topic of 2D barcode best practices and the technology in general I am hard pressed to understand how and/or why a sub-par 2D barcode experience can be signed-off on and allowed to see the light of day. If you use 2D barcodes, or even if you don't, can you explain this? I have spoken with a number of professionals across functions and managerial levels, on both the client and agency side, and have yet to fully understand what might be the cause of this. Some have said it's a matter of budget and the allocation of resources, others have said it's executive compensation and objectives and others have said the technology is still too new to fully commit to it. In my mind, and I believe I speak for many others, none of these responses can or should be used as an excuse to develop and execute a strategy or campaign that simply fails to deliver a remarkable, let alone a half-way decent, 2D barcode or mobile experience.
To know that an experience --any experience-- can affect positively or negatively on a brand, doesn't it behoove a marketing/creative team to develop the best possible 2D barcode and mobile experience? Last I checked, no one was twisting a CMO's or a creative director's arm saying, "you must use 2D technology in your next campaign or else." Would you allow other types of advertising or promotion campaigns (i.e., email, web, direct mail, television, print, package, out-of-home, in-store, etc.) to fail at delivering the best for the brand or consumers?
For companies that are using 2D barcode technology, don't your loyal and/or prospective customers demand/deserve better? For agencies that are creating 2D barcode campaigns for their clients, don't your clients demand/deserve better? Between the brand and the agency, there seems to be a gap where no one wants to tread. Why? 2D barcode technology works, and works well when best practices and marketing fundamentals are adhered to and implemented, but, for some reason, brand and agency leaders don't want to recognize this or take the time to understand the technology.
As a marketing executive who has devoted a tremendous amount of time studying this technology, I have one suggestion: The next time your company or a client wishes to use 2D barcodes please take the responsibility of learning about the technology and allocating the necessary resources beforehand, so that only a winning 2D campaign is created and implemented. By winning, I am referring to a campaign that delivers value, meaning, benefit and relevance to the intended consumer audience via the 2D barcode and mobile experience, and that the experience, as a whole, works seamlessly from end to end. After all, isn't this the way you yourself would want to experience the technology, and the brand, if you were to take the time and make the effort to scan a 2D barcode?
Lastly, from a pure return-on-investment perspective, which CMOs are being held responsible for now more than ever, don't you believe a 2D barcode campaign that is given some forethought and executed correctly will derive a greater return or response than a campaign where the thought to place a 2D barcode in the advertisement is done at the last minute, and it's left to chance as to whether or not the code generates any response or return? My hunch, you believe in the former.
If you wish to ask questions or comment about the information and suggestion discussed above, by all means, please contact me.
Founder, 2D Barcode Strategy