Why they fail
So why do 2D bar codes fail? Why are more and more companies making use of the technology, and just as many failing in the implementation and deployment of the technology? In my mind, it's simple. First, companies are not taking the time and expending the energy to fully understand the technology from a pure technology perspective (i.e., how 2D bar codes work, get generated, get scanned, etc.). Second, companies are not enabling themselves to fully understand how the technology can and should be integrated into an existing marketing mix from a strategic and tactical perspective. Rather, they are implementing and deploying the technology from their own perspectives -- not the consumer's. In addition, many companies are not establishing clear lines of responsibility when it comes to determining whose job is it to manage and steward the use of the technology from one campaign to the next, and from the inception of a campaign to its completion.
Although the two reasons above help to provide an explanation as to why companies are failing at 2D barcdoes, what they don't speak to is the fact that 2D bar codes are similar to most any other marketing channel or medium and need to be considered as such. When a code is going to be used in an advertisement or a promotional piece, it needs to be given the same amount of thought and consideration that a landing page, for example, would be given. Where landing page copy, graphics, layout, links, buttons, and versions are all well thought out, planned, and even tested, so too should the use of a 2D bar code.
In working with 2D bar codes, I have established a list of no fewer than 20 technology- and marketing-related best practices that should be used when implementing and deploying 2D technology. By no means do the examples in this article detail all of the best practices that I and others in the field advocate, but they highlight some of the main ones.
In addition, above and beyond best practices themselves, marketers must recognize the need for clear goals and objectives -- strategic and tactical -- to be set in place as a 2D-based campaign is developed. We all talk about metrics and the need to justify ROI, which bar codes can certainly help to facilitate. But without goals and objectives in place, one will never know if 100 scans or five sales leads or a dozen products sold constitute success.
Roger Marquis is the founder 2D Barcode Strategy.
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