2D Barcodes and Stupid Marketing Tricks

by Dave on February 26, 2011

2D QR barode

My Silly Use of a QR Code

Don’t be distracted by the latest shiny new object.  Just because 2D barcodes work in some applications doesn’t mean that they work everywhere.  I’ve recently seen two very bad implementations and on silly suggestion around 2D barcodes.

  1. Someone recommends you place a QR code in your LinkedIn or Facebook Profile to prove your technical prowess (see the barcodes on webpages below)
  2. A large banner at a non-technical, open-to-the public trade show with a 2D barcode that had no suggestion what to do with it, what it lead to, and required a unique app download
  3. Our local business weekly put a QR code on their front page (which might be OK) but it took you to a not-optimized-for-mobile web page (it didn’t even look like the webpage was optimized for desktop browsing)

Sometimes people (especially marketers) get way too excited about the latest technology. Stop and think about the 2D barcode technology for a second before you start throwing it in all your marketing:

  1. It is designed to be scanned
  2. Smartphones are the current scanning platform (and only if they have a scanning app installed)
  3. The result will display on their phone

Therefore a 2D barcode only makes sense when you are targeting smartphone users AND you offer a mobile experience.

2D Barcode on a Web Page?

Only a truly terminal nerd would pick up a smartphone, aim it at a webpage and wait to see what happens. (I admit to doing it during the early days of QR codes, just to see how it worked). Why put up a barcode when a simple link would do? It only makes sense if you have content that is tailored to a mobile experience.

There are perfectly legitimate reasons to put a 2D barcode on a web page:

– You are offering a demo or example of a mobile website
– You are selling a mobile app
– You have other mobile content that your visitors should see or interact with

And 2D Barcodes have some very interesting non-web applications (note they are targeted at mobile users):

– Offers on printed material
– Contact “card” download
– Advertisements or banners that take you to a mobile site

The list is probably endless. But note – like all marketing, 2D Barcodes don’t make sense unless you consider who might use it and have an offer that matches the visitor and medium.

Don’t waste you or your audience’s time:  Before you put up the latest gadget on your site or profile , make sure you’re delivering something of value in the right format.  Confused about how to deliver mobile content? (visit my friends at Mobicize)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }