By Jamie Turner, Co-Author, Go Mobile

What follows is an excerpt from Go Mobile (affiliate link), the #1 best-selling mobile marketing book I co-authored with Jeanne Hopkins. The excerpt should give you a sense of what’s covered in-depth in the book.

There’s a trick to using 2D codes (QR, TAG, ScanLife, etc.) that a lot of people overlook. Most businesses think the cool thing about 2D codes is that people can scan them and are instantly driven to a web page. But that’s not the cool part. The cool part is what happens after they get to the web page, and that’s where many businesses fall short.

Think of it this way – a TV in and of itself isn’t really all that big a deal. It’s the content you can access through the TV that’s the cool thing. The same holds true with QR codes – it’s what happens once you scan a QR code that makes it a fun and engaging marketing tool.

The term 2D code is used to describe the category in general, not any specific type of code. Some of the most common types of 2D codes include Datamatrix, EZ Code, Microsoft Tag, QR Codes, SPARQCode and ScanLife, among others.

If a 2D code reader isn’t already installed on your phone, you can download one by visiting one of these websites from your mobile device:

2D codes can be printed on just about any location or surface – newspapers, posters, TV ads, clothing labels, menus, even cake frosting. It’s important to keep in mind that the location must be mobile friendly – subways, elevators and rural areas with bad cell coverage aren’t ideal places to scan a 2D code.

Microsoft Tag, ScanLife, SPARQCode and some other 2D codes allow for data tracking. Some tools will only track the number of scans while others provide detailed metrics like demographics, repeat scans, geolocation and more.

2D codes also include an error correction function that enables “damaged” codes to still be scanned. The error tolerance level can be as high as 30%, so creative license can be used to create designer 2D codes. Items like Jelly Beans, sand castles and product packaging have been used because, as long as there is enough contrast to read the code, the error correction function helps the scanning mechanism adapt to the inadequacies of the code.

How Businesses are Using 2D Codes to Engage Customers. More than 25% of the Fortune 50 have already used 2D codes as a marketing tool. Here are several of the best examples we’ve come across. You can use them for inspiration:

  1. Real Estate Agents are using 2D codes to provide drive-by visitors access to videos that show the inside of homes and buildings. That way, interested parties can see the interior without having to wait to set up an appointment.
  2. BestBuy has added 2D codes to their in-store fact tags to let consumers see information about their products. Customers can also save the information to review at home later or to buy the product instantly via smart phone and have it delivered to their homes later
  3. Delta and other airlines use 2D codes in conjunction with their mobile apps. Users receive their boarding pass via the app and use the 2D code on the boarding pass to check-in at the airport.
  4. Trade Shows, Events and Conferences are using 2D codes on name tags. That way, participants can scan the codes and download the person’s contact information instantly. No more business card swapping.
  5. Esquire Magazine used 2D codes to give readers more information about fashion items featured in their magazine. Users can link to the designer’s website to place an order for a product they saw in the magazine
  6. The Good Cook on BBC1 in the U.K. provides 2D codes so viewers can see all the ingredients and the method of cooking that the chef uses.
  7. Hotels provide 2D codes in rooms to highlight local attractions with coupons to theme parks and restaurants.
  8. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency are proposing 2D code fuel economy labels on the window of every new vehicle in dealer showrooms.
  9. The New York Times Magazine put a 2D code made entirely of balloons on the cover of their magazine. Users who scanned the 2D code were driven to a special mobile web page promoting their 10th Annual Year in Ideas issue.
  10. McDonald’s uses 2D codes in Japan to provide additional product information and promotions for their menu items.
  11. Bosch VitaFresh refrigerators in Germany placed over-sized, wrapped packages of meat purportedly from dinosaurs, mammoths and saber-toothed tigers in supermarket freezers. The 2D codes on the packages linked to product information about their refrigerators, resulting in over 75,000 views from customers in stores.
  12. A bank in Ireland provided maps of the Emerald Isle to customers. The map referenced a list of restaurants from across the country. Each restaurant had a 2D code that drove people through a Google map of the restaurant’s location.
  13. Bigmouthmedia in Edinburgh, Scotland includes a 2D code on their Google map location, thereby giving people searching for them with a regular computer access to their website via mobile, too.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also want to read “Top 5 QR Code Fails” on the 60 Second Marketer blog. And, of course, there’s a ton of information on how to set-up, launch and run a mobile marketing campaign in Go Mobile.

Posted by Jamie Turner, Founder of the 60 Second Marketer and co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile.He is also a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.