Expert's Opinion

Best Practices for Bar Codes

By Laura Marriott, NeoMedia Technologies, Inc. | October 31, 2011

Laura Marriott offers some tips on how to improve communication with consumers.

The household and personal product industry has, like many other industries, changed extensively in recent times. While the market has become increasingly crowded, consumers are becoming increasingly discerning and cost conscious, demanding more their dollar. A low cost and effective way for marketers to add more value for their consumers is to start implementing mobile barcodes into their campaigns.Mobile barcodes open a channel of communication beyond what has been possible before and enables them to differentiate themselves and their products with added value ranging from product information to purchase incentives.

By including mobile barcodes in advertisements, on promotional stands or on shelves, the brand owner is able to create a new interactive opportunity for marketers to engage their target audience. Using mobile barcodes on packaging is also an ideal way for consumers to access related multimedia content or discover information about the product, enhancing the shopping experience and increasing loyalty. Mobile barcodes are also a fantastic way of delivering coupons to consumers and speeding up the entry process for competitions.

A number of well known personal care and household product manufacturers have been incorporating mobile barcodes into their marketing efforts; Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Kellogg’s, among others, are using mobile barcodes to deliver money off coupons and other promotional incentives to consumers.1 Mobile barcode use has also been growing in the beauty industry as barcodes have started appearing in advertisements in women’s magazines like Elle and Lucky. 2,3

There are a number of ways in which household and personal care brands can maximize the potential of mobile barcodes, but to ensure that they yield the best results for the brand it is imperative to follow best practice advice. Best practices are essential for brands to determine how to effectively launch new technologies and ensure success in their initiatives. NeoMedia has developed best practices, based on the successful launch of mobile barcode campaigns globally, to help brand owners and agencies leverage the mobile barcode media element efficiently and effectively.

1. Plan ahead
Mobile barcodes should be an integral part of any digital or traditional marketing campaign, to ensure that interactivity is a core component of the campaign and not simply an afterthought.

2. Design with the consumer in mind
Consumers generally only opt-in to receive communications from brands when they perceive that it will be relevant or deliver value to them, by means of giveaways, discounts, information or services based on entertainment and utility. By delivering value to the consumer, brands can increase their consumer base and promote consumer participation in campaigns.

3. Design and placement
Correct placement of the mobile barcode in the design of any marketing collateral is essential to soliciting a good response rate. Mobile barcodes should always be placed in a location where they are easy to identify and scan, ideally on a flat surface and away from folds or other features that might hamper scanning.

4. Color
Mobile barcodes, with the exception of certain proprietary mobile barcodes that use color (e.g. Microsoft Tag), should be printed in black and white to facilitate scanning by the majority of camera equipped mobile devices and their mobile code readers.

5. Branding
Mobile barcodes should be printed without branding or images included. While including a logo or image is appealing, it can damage the integrity of the code, making it difficult for consumers to scan. To ensure broadest reach, do not insert or overlay graphics on the code.

6. Open Standards
Additionally, in order to ensure an optimal consumer experience, it is important to deploy mobile barcodes solutions using global, open standards (for example, QR, Datamatrix) as the use of proprietary solutions can limit customer access and therefore impact market penetration and overall reach.

7. Education
Usually consumers are willing to adopt new technologies but marketers must deploy these technologies in a manner that makes them understandable and easy to use. Including some simple educational descriptive copy will facilitate and encourage consumer participation.

8. Optimize for Mobile
Developing mobile-optimized content means brands can quickly deliver the right message to their target audience to create a seamless and enjoyable experience.

9.Test and Test Again
Consumers will be deterred from using mobile barcodes if they initially have an unsatisfactory experience and this can be damaging, not only to a given campaign, but to the brand and the adoption of mobile barcode marketing in general. In order to avoid this, every implementation of a mobile barcode should be tested to ensure everything works correctly.

10. Define Your Objectives
Defining campaign goals and objectives prior to campaign start will help a brand understand how to measure the success and effectiveness of their campaign. Barcode solutions also provide metrics that allow brands to make better purchase decisions and optimize their messaging for mobile barcodes, which help maximize future campaigns and ensure optimal and continued customer engagement.

11. Plan for consumer engagement
Always plan to maintain the dialogue with target consumers as this will serve to bolster consumer satisfaction and repeated interactions with the brand’s campaign.

Mobile barcodes are gaining traction within the household and personal product industry as packaging designers, manufacturers and retailers recognize the enhanced value they can provide. Mobile barcodes facilitate a mutually beneficial dialogue between the consumer and the brand which can lead to increased brand awareness, expand a brand’s subscriber base and ultimately make a positive difference to a brand’s bottom line.

In order to ensure mobile barcodes are used to their full potential, brands should follow best practice advice. These best practices are designed to guide brands and advertisers when developing cohesive, engaging and profitable campaigns that maximize the promise of mobile marketing and spur consumer interest and participation through the utilization of mobile barcodes.

For more information on how to leverage mobile barcodes, download NeoMedia’s educational white papers at or contact NeoMedia Technologies at

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