QR Code 101 Guest Post: Two Dimensional (2D) Quick Response (QR) Scan Codes: ‘The 10 Commandments for Marketers’

February 24, 2011 – Atlanta, GA USA – The following QR Code 101 Two Dimensional (2D) Quick Response (QR) scan code article was first published by Mashable. This excerpt is reprinted by permission of the author.

Author: Jamie Turner is the chief content officer of the 60 Second Marketer, the online magazine for BKV Digital and Direct Response. He is also the co-author of How to Make Money with Social Media.

It seems as though every time you scan the web, there are posts and articles about companies that are using 2D codes such as QR codes, EZcodes and Microsoft Tags to promote their products or services.

Quick Response (QR) Scan Code: Text SCAN to 43588 to get a free scanner app. Scan this code to launch the 60 Second Marketer Social Media List of 45 Social Media terms

The problem is that many of these companies are using 2D codes as novelty items instead of using them to drive real, tangible revenue to their businesses.

I’ve spent the past few months analyzing several hundred different uses of 2D codes across the globe. Some of them have been quite brilliant (as is the case with the Smithsonian Institution’s Neanderthal exhibit, which we’ll talk about in a second). Others have been … well, not so brilliant.

Many members of the Fortune 500 have used 2-D codes to promote their products or services. For example, The New York Times Magazine took a photo of a QR code made entirely of balloons. Yes, you can create a QR Code using balloons and it actually works. Users who scanned the QR code were driven to a special mobile webpage promoting their 10th Annual Year in Ideas issue.

Starbucks is one of the first major corporations to use 2-D codes for commerce. The Starbucks Card Mobile Application allows baristas to scan a 2-D code off of your smart phone. The cost of your Venti, sugar-free, non-fat, vanilla soy, double shot, decaf, no foam, extra hot, peppermint white chocolate mocha with light whip and extra syrup is simply deducted from your card. When the money runs out, you just add more to your mobile card using the app.

Surprisingly, the best example I’ve seen for the use of a 2-D code was by the Smithsonian Institution. Yes, a quasi-governmental, traditional institution kicked the private sector’s rear end when it came to the best use of a new and emerging technology.

If you visit the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, you’ll see an exhibit about Neanderthals on the main floor. Neanderthals were contemporaries of humans who lived in Africa, the Middle East and Western Europe 30,000 to 50,000 years ago.

The Neanderthal exhibit is pretty typical, except that they’ve placed a 2-D code on it that says, “Scan here to be part of our MEanderthal exhibit.”

When visitors scan the 2-D code, they’re sent to a website that allows them to take a picture of a friend or family member with their smartphone. Once they’ve done that, users can superimpose an image over the photograph that shows what that person would have looked like as a Neanderthal 30,000 to 50,000 years ago.

The Smithsonian’s MEanderthal Experience Meets QR code

The Smithsonian’s MEanderthal experience doesn’t end with the superimposed photograph. You can also put different Neanderthal overlays on your photograph and even upload photos to your Facebook profile or e-mail them to a friend. The end result is that instead of spending, say, two or three minutes learning about Neanderthals, visitors with a 2-D code reader on their phone will spend five or ten minutes with the exhibit.

All this brings us to our main point: The 10 commandments of using 2-D codes for business. After all, if you’re going to dive into 2-D codes, you should have a handle on the best practices.

1. Thou Shalt Assist Thy Consumer in the Use of 2-D Codes

Even though the use of 2-D codes is increasing rapidly, most consumers are just starting to embrace them. It’s best to help consumers out a little with a line of copy that explains what 2-D codes are and where the consumer can download a code reader.

Here’s the one I use all the time: “Scan the 2-D code for a special coupon. To download a code reader to your phone, open your mobile browser and visit scan.mobi.”

Other good 2-D code readers can be found at BeeTagg.com, i-nigma.com and ScanLife.com.

2. Thou Shalt Drive Consumers Through to a Webpage Designed Specifically for a Smartphone

This one seems painfully obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies drive people through to regular webpages. By linking your 2-D code to a mobile site, you’re enhancing the customer experience. A good customer experience equals return visits, which is what you’re looking for.

3. Thou Shalt Run Thy 2-D Code Promotion in an Area That Has Cell Phone Coverage

Another classic mistake is running a 2-D code promotion in an area that has bad cell phone coverage. If you’re going to run a 2-D code promotion in a subway station, a rural area or an office building, you’d better check the mobile reception first.

4. Thou Shalt Add Value for Thy Consumer

The best 2-D code promotions give people something extra for their trouble. Sometimes, that extra value is simply an enhanced experience. Other times, it’s a discount or special coupon that rewards them for taking the time to scan your 2-D code.

5. Thou Shalt Track the Traffic to Your 2-D Code Landing Page

Marketing is about metrics and measurement, so be sure you track your results. One way is to measure in-bound hits using Google Analytics or some other analytics program. Another way is to partner with ScanLife, Microsoft or some other 2-D code provider to track data using their systems. Experiment to see which approach works for you.

6-10. [Editor's Note: That Shalt Click Here to View 10 Commandments 6-10 for Marketers on Mashable]


Author Jamie Turner

That’s GREAT! blog post by Guest Columnist Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer for 60 Second Marketer, the online magazine for BKV Digital and Direct Response. Copyright 2010-2011 Jamie Turner. First published 9/1/10 by Mashable.

Reprinted by permission of the Author. Download a free chapter from Jamie’s book by clicking “How to Make Money with Social Media.”

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That’s GREAT! Quick Response (QR) Scan Code Resources

1.     That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  101 Ideas for Using QR Codes
2.     That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  101 ‘Pointers’ for Using QR Codes
3.     That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  101 Major U.S. Brands Using QR Codes
4.     That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  50 Major Media Companies Using QR Codes
5.     That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Using QR Codes
6.     That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Top 10 Best QR Codes Uses in the U.S
7.     That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  (Video) ‘10 Reasons Free QR Codes Will Bite Me In The Tush’
8.     That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  (Video) What’s the Return on Investment (ROI) on QR Codes?
9.     That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  (Video) – 2011 is the Year of the Quick Response Code
10.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Multiple Choice:  (2010) (2011) (2012) is the Year of the QR Code
11.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Top 300 Must Read QR Code Articles
12.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Top 150 Must Read QR Code Articles
13.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  How Newspapers Can Use QR Codes to Delay the Demise of Print
14.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  QR Code Book : ‘I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works
15.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Top 10 Reasons EZcodes Are Better Than QR Codes
16.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Guest Post: The 10 Commandments for Marketers
17.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Guest Post: How to Use QR Codes to Promote Your Business
18.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Guest Post: An Introduction to QR Codes
19.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Product Camp Atlanta: 25 QR Code Ideas in 10 Minutes
20.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Follow Dan Smigrod’s QR Twitter Account: uSCANme
21.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  Free Daily Online QR Code Newspaper (The uSCANme Daily)
22.   That’s GREAT! – QR Code 101:  All ‘That’s GREAT!’ QR Code Lists, Videos, Articles and Resources

Bonus: GREAT! ScanLife Promo Code (“Invitation Code”) = great (for smallmediumlarge businessesand agency/resellers so you can play with a robust, paid scan code platform (For example: generate free QR codes to practice with and generate usage reports for these codes). When you are ready to use the scan codes commercially, please request a quote from ScanLife or email GREAT! CEO Dan Smigrod.


*Though Quick Response (QR) brand scan codes are a registered trademark of Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave, Quick Response Code (QR) are commonly – and incorrectly – used generically to refer to all Two Dimensional (2D) mobile barcodes: including ScanLife EZcode brand scan codes; Microsoft Tag codes; datamatrix codes; and still other scan codes that are scanned or photographed on a smartphone such as an iPhone 4. Saying Quick Response code or QR code is like saying that you TIVOed the TV show when you actually used the Comcast brand digital video recorder to record the TV show.