2D codes in health – driving audiences online


Much of the current buzz around mobile technologies is centred on the potential of 2D codes for marketing, PR and communications. These are 2-dimensional codes similar to a linear (1-dimensional) barcode, but with more data representation capability. They can be printed on promotional materials and scanned using a mobile device, taking the user to pages of rich visual and audio content, downloads and social media platforms. Types of 2D code include the QR code (Quality Response), which is one of the most popular, the EZ code and Microsoft Tags.

(image via Pulse + Signal)

(image via Pulse + Signal)

Although 2D codes have been around since the 1990s, 2011 is being hyped as the year we finally see the full height of their splash within the industry – thanks to the current mobile device revolution with their host of 2D scanning applications, as well as increased social awareness.

Based on the recommendations of two expert Mashable authors, here are some key dos and don’ts to remember when exploiting this technology to achieve your goals in healthcare communications:


  1. Put your 2D codes on every single piece of promotional material you have – posters, flyers, stickers, media kits, magazine ads, websites – creativity is the key. Check out this balloon example.
  2. Help your audiences to use your 2D codes by including a line of copy that explains what they are and where they can download the code reader, e.g. BeeTag.com, i-nigma.com and ScanLife.com.
  3. Add value for your audiences to motivate them to scan your 2D codes. Offer exclusive, tailored and relevant content, incentives such as giveaways and competitions, videos or interactive activities and games, such as the innovative exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum which invites you to scan the 2D code to morph yourself back in time with MEanderthal.
  4. Place a compelling call to action in a prominent position near your QR code so that it is immediately clear to your audience what they will get from scanning the code.
  5. Track the traffic to your 2D landing page, in order to measure the success of your campaign.
(image via 2D Barcode Strategy)

(image via 2D Barcode Strategy)


  1. Bother if you are not going to offer original, inspiring or relevant content for your audiences.
  2. Use code formats that require a particular scanning app to work.
  3. Forget to scan test the 2D codes printed on your printed proofs.
  4. Drive your users to pages containing Flash or any site not specifically optimised for mobile browsing.
  5. Forget to update your content and offerings – your audiences should be inspired to scan not just once but again and again.

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon