Next Thing in Direct Mail: Invisible 2D Barcodes

By: Andrew Glover
September 20, 2018

Digital marketing is very popular for a variety of reasons ranging from cost, trackabilty, and ease; however despite its growing popularity direct mail remains more effective. One reason is that direct mail takes on a more personal approach. The personal approach allows marketing campaigns to be more successful when compared to non-personal digital marketing tactics.

Technology, such as QR Barcodes, has allowed for a bridge to be built between digital and direct mail marketing. 2D bardcodes allow both consumers to access digital marketing platforms (QR barcodes), as well as manufactures and producers of the mail piece to embed identifiers onto the piece (Data Matrix¬†Barcodes) — such as when bar-codes are used in mail matching, additionally bar codes can also be used as an authentication mechanism such as on event tickets or printed coupons (Code 128 / PDF 417 barcodes).¬†The only downside of barcodes in direct mail is that they are not always very pleasant to look at and they can force layout changes. Luckily technology has advanced, and now we can print invisible two-dimensional barcodes anywhere on a piece of direct mail without changing the layout — which can be a huge benefit if the barcode’s purpose in non-customer facing.

What are Invisible 2D Barcodes?

Invisible 2D barcodes are precisely what they sound like. The information is encoded in a 2D barcode and printed on any direct mail with invisible ink. The data can be extracted from the barcode by taking a photograph with any device that has a blacklight LED, such as a phone or a computer. The black light allows the invisible ink to become viewable, no matter where it’s position is in the mail.

Invisible barcodes offer a few key benefits to organizations that choose to use them.

Make Layouts Easier

The invisible ink allows the barcode to remain unseen in regular lighting. The invisible aspect allows the barcode to be printed anywhere on a direct mail piece. Many marketing material layouts must be reformatted multiple times to make room for a barcode. The invisible ink allows for a vast amount of flexibility because the barcode can go anywhere without impacting the overall layout.

Are Not an Eyesore

The design aspect of a marketing campaign can be time-consuming. Once a design is solidified, an organization must start piecing the project together. Unfortunately, barcodes are often forgotten during the design process. When a plan is assembled, the barcode is the last placement decision. With invisible barcodes, it doesn’t matter if the barcode was forgotten or not. By the time the barcode is added, it can go anywhere because it can blend in anywhere. The targeted audience for the marketing materials won’t catch the barcode placement because they won’t be able to see it.

Allow Better Personalization

Invisible barcodes allow for better personalization. Since the barcode is invisible, the placement can be anywhere in the direct mail without feeling like it’s in the way or blocking other content. If your marketing is meant to be interactive, an invisible barcode can be printed on an image. Then the receiver of the mail can scan an image instead of searching for an unsightly barcode off to the side of the marketing message.

Invisible Barcodes and Match Mailing

Match mailing is the action of producing and inserting several personalized pieces of direct mail into the same package. Bundling marketing materials into a single package has become increasingly popular because it allows an organization’s audience access to many different materials all at once.

Previously, visible barcodes were printed on every piece of mail created for a direct mail package. The excessive number of barcodes can be overwhelming to a recipient, which is why invisible ink is becoming more popular. The invisible ink allows the barcodes to continue to be printed on mail pieces as needed without the recipient needing to glimpse at many barcodes while reviewing the content.

Valtim and Invisible 2D Barcoding

2D barcoding has been used by the print industry for several years now. It allows inserting machines to quickly process mail and ensure that all personalized components match and that they are inserted into the correct envelope. However, the tradeoff to the speed and accuracy of 2D barcode matching is that an obtrusive-looking 2D barcode is printed on to every personalized piece of mail, making it less authentic.

Valtim is currently working to implement this new process allowing us to print, and use, 2D barcodes with invisible ink, to allow for more creative and less restrictive design concepts for personalized mail. We hope to offer this service soon, but no timelines is currently available. If you are interested please contact us, and we will add you to our waiting-list.

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