Monday, January 2, 2012

6:39 AM

I lately spoke at SES Event on better exercises for mobile marketing with Quick Response codes. Here's a follow-up crash course on tools, maneuver, and better exercises to confidently assist you jumpstart a 2D barcode marketing campaign.

A Quick Response Code is a 2D Barcode

Quick Response codes are an encoded barcode picture resembling a square-like maze. Different a one-dimensional UPC code, a two-dimensional decrypt saves information in both ways and can be scanned vertically or horizontally to be decrypt.

A QR Code is a 2D Barcode

2D Barcodes Can Store a Variety of Data

An accustomed 1D barcode (UPC/EAN) saves upto 30 numbers, when a 2D barcode (QR) can save up to 7,089 numbers. The extra storage capacity accommodates a mixture of data beyond numbers:

• Text
• Hyperlink
• Telephone number (Phone call)
• MMS/SMS message
• Email (Send message)
• (vCard or meCard) Contact entry
• (vCalendar) Calendar entry

Saving a hyperlink currents a myriad of chances beyond just loading a web page -- play a video, download a mobile apps, update a Twitter status, "Like" a Facebook page, show map ways, and much more.

Read/Decode a 2D Barcode by Scanning it With a Smartphone

(A 2D barcode reader application is needed to decrypt the converted information.)

2D Barcode by Scanning it With a Smartphone

2D Barcodes Can be Placed in and on Nearly Any Location

Once the barcode picture is created, it can be printed on closely any surface and location -- newspapers, TV ads, hoardings and more. This enables you to drive traffic, interacting, and changeover from anyplace. 2D barcodes excel at taking non-digital media to life.

Mobile Barcode Scanning is on the Rise
  • 2D barcode scanning outnumbered 1D (UPC) scans in Q1 2011.- ScanLife's Q1 2011 Trend Report
  • Mobile barcode scanning raised 1,600% in the year 2010. ScanLife's 2010 Trend Report (PDF)
  • Quick Response barcode scanning was up 1,200% in the second half of 2010.- Mobio's Naked Facts Report
  • 22% of the Fortune 50 have already used mobile barcodes.- Burson-Marsteller Report
Quick Response codes can be used for closely any function (advertising, customer service, etc.) for B2B and B2C throughout a mixtures of industries:
  • Best Buy utilizes Quick Response codes on in-shop price tags for quick access to online reviews.
  • Golf Digest uses Microsoft Tag in their magazine to accompany tips with interactive video.
  • Real estate agents use 2D barcodes on "for sale" signs providing prospective buyers access to virtual tours.
  • Libraries are using Quick Response codes to facilitate learning via interactive scavenger hunts.
QR Isn't the Only Type of 2D Barcode

The utmost famous 2D barcode formats are Quick Response code, DataMatrix, ScanLife EZcode, and Microsoft Tag (Tag).

QR Isn't the Only Type of 2D Barcode

There are many key differences in these code formats. ScanLife EZcode and Microsoft Tag are proprietary formats only decrypt by their tools, When QR and DataMatrix formats are open standard. (Extra format differences can be addressed in another post.)

A Google Trends analysis of these 2D barcodes displays " Quick Response code" prevails by far from a search popularity perspective. QR has become a general term used to reference a 2D barcode (2D code, mobile tag, mobile barcode, etc.) even when codes are technically a varied format. Even@MicrosoftTag utilizes the #QRcode hashtag on Twitter.

Tools to Generate and Read 2D Barcodes are Free

Tools are available for all major mobile phone handsets. To run a 2D barcode campaign you'll require to following:
  1. 2D barcode generator (Website service)
  2. 2D barcode reader (Mobile application)
  3. [choices” 2D barcode management and tracking tool (Website service)
Generators: Different generators have varying characteristics. Choose a generator based on the choices for:
  • Code Format (i.e. QR, EZcode, Tag, etc.) 
  • Stored Data (i.e. hyperlink, meCard, SMS, etc.)
  •  Output (i.e. color, size, download file type, etc.) is a comprehensive Quick Response generator rendering a mixtures of saved content, color, size, and output options. ScanLife's generator creates their owner EZcode as well as Quick Response and DataMatrix formats. Microsoft Tag only generates Tag.


Microsoft Tag and ScanLife EZcode can only be decrypted by their various reader applications. Because of the open standard for QR codes, dozens of reader apps are available. (DataMatrix is normally supported on most QR readers.) Some mobile handsets come with a reader application pre-installed.

The upcoming 2D barcode reader apps work on the majority of phones/handsets.

Reader App
Code Formats
Download Link
(from your mobile phone)
BeeTagg Reader
QR, DataMatrix, BeeTagg
AT&T Code Scanner
QR, DataMatrix, UPC/EAN
EZcode, QR, DataMatrix, UPC/EAN
Microsoft Tag

Management Tools are Available to Track Scanning Analytics

Shortened URL and web analytics for 2D barcodes saving URL hyperlinks are a great begin. For inclusive scan tracking, you will require to use a barcode generator tool that contains tracking analytics. (These tools are not autonomous.) Some management tools will only track the number of scans while others render detailed metrics like demographics, repeat scans, geo-location, and more. Gathered analytics depends on the reader app used for scanning, so information results may change.

Management tools are comparatively cheap and sometimes free. Paid programs generally have a free test with fees based on the number of inspects.

2D Barcode Management & Tracking Tools:

2D Barcode Content Should Provide Special Value for the Customer

It's work to inspect a barcode, so users have higher anticipation as to what content they will search. Award the user with discounts, exclusive content, or helpful tips relevant to the code's context.

View scenarios that leverage smartphone characteristics (email, SMS, phone call, video, map, apps, etc.) to save the user time.

For Instance, Containing a QR code on a business card that links to a me Card would be a lot easier than the user manually entrance the contact record. In contrast, a QR code that links to a website homepage adds limited value.

Small or Complex QR Codes Can't be Scanned by Smartphones With Lesser Quality Cameras

Complex 2D barcodes (a lot going on, not very dense) are more ambitious and time consuming to scan. In the case of QR codes, more saved content forces a bigger code size. In common, it's best to minimize information saved in 2D barcodes. Always use a shortener- URL to shrink hyperlinks. (Add analytics tracking parameters before shortening the link.)

Consumers Need Guidance to Scan 2D Barcodes

The mixtures of code types, referer, and different term is confusing to consumers. Nielsen Company calculate that only 40 percent of U.S. mobile devices are smartphones as of Q1 2011, developing to almost 50 percent by Quarter3 2011. That intend there are lot of smartphone beginners that barely acknowledge how to use their phone, much less differentiate differences in mobile barcode initialize and reader apps. As much as 2D barcodes are a gaud concept, always include a little step-by-step guide with context of your code.

Logical steps:

  1. Get the reader app
  2. Scan the code with your mobile device
  3. (Action that happens upon scanning)
2D Barcodes can be Customized Artistically

2D Barcodes can be Customized Artistically

Quick Response codes contain an Mistake Rectification Level that enables damaged codes to still be scanned. The error level tolerance (set by the code generator) can be as high as 30%. As a outcome, creative license can be used to create designer Quick Response codes from a myster of colors or materials (i.e. jelly beans, sand castles, product packaging, etc.) as long as there is adequate contrast to read the code.

When it arrives to advanced QR code graphic design, it's harder than it looks. If you desire to get fancy, I urge connecting with QR art experts at or

Microsoft Tag also permit for artistic codes. Their custom tag tool permit users to generate art from codes or even cover codes on top of photographs.

Testing Scannability is Imperative.

Before you mass print or distribute barcodes be sure to test for scannability. Testing factors:
  • Smartphone cameras (resolution/auto-focus)
  • Reader apps
  • Scan context (i.e. lighting, shadows, surfaces)
  • Scan distance
  • Scan timing

Seek Expertise to Ensure Successful Campaigns

To assure campaign success, think referring with a mobile barcode marketing master, particularly if its your initial period functioning a mobile barcode campaign. Technology, trends, and tools in this arena are quicly changing. A few hours of proficient consulting can get your team up to speed, help improve campaigns for success, and neglect unnecessary embarrassment for bad implementation.

Proficiency goes further consultants: Talk to your web analytics expert and learn all you can about the mobile users presently accessing your site. Search out mobile marketing industry statistics regarding famous devices and demographics to suitably target your audience. (Compete,ScanLife, and eMarketer provide regular useful reports.) Follow the #QRcode Twitter hashtag or subscribe to QR Code News & Mobile Trends ( for the recent news and case studies.

At last, download QR Code Good Exercises Checklist & Campaign Work-sheet to assist plan and handle your campaigns:

Are you gear up to jump start a Quick Response code campaignWhat questions do you have about the tech, tools or tactics? Please gives your feedbacks below.