Business cards are still the quickest way to gather potential lead information, especially if you frequently attend trade shows or conventions where there isn't a lot of time to stop and chat. However, lugging around pockets full of business cards isn't very comfortable and the Rolodex is no longer in style. Not to mention hand entering each business contact into your Outlook, CRM program or phone contact list takes a lot of time. Most people end up dumping business cards into a drawer, then frantically sifting through them later when they realize they need to reach out to an important contact.
Business card readers allow you to quickly scan business cards and save the digitalized images into contact programs for easy access later. Portable devices can be taken with you on the go while mobile apps are even more convenient, allowing you to simply snap a picture of the card and letting your phone automatically enter, sort and save information into your contact list.
While there are several different solutions depending on your personal need, we found the best business card scanners to be WorldCard Pro by PenPower, Dsmobile from Brother and Dymo's CardScan. Check out our articles on business card scanners to learn even more.
Finding the right business card scanner can be overwhelming because there are so many different options and sizes. Mobile apps don't come with any additional hardware or software, but should have user instructions available with the download.
Physical scanners should come with a USB cable so you can connect it to your computer or laptop to both power the device and transfer scanned images to the software program. Most devices come with either a physical disc or instructions for downloading compatible software programs. It should also come with a calibration card, which is used when the device needs cleaning.
Here are some additional features and options we used to compare card scanners in our review of the best business card scanners on the market.
One of the most important features to look for in a business card scanner is the ability to auto populate. This means the scanner will recognize the contact information from the scanned card and automatically fill in text fields in your contact program. The best scanners are compatible with Outlook and other email programs, with some even compatible with your contact management software. Two-sided scanning is also an important feature to consider since it takes extra time to manually flip and rescan the other side of the business card if it is needed.
As part of the testing process, we attempted to scan a variety of business cards. These included those printed on cork, wood, plastic, recycled paper and thick cardstock. We also looked at how well the image was scanned when specialty inks and finishes were used, and those cut into specialty shapes. Those business card scanners with a high versatility score were able to clearly scan cards printed with white ink on black backgrounds, foil inks, embossing and raised lettering.
The best card scanners, including mobile apps, are able to use effective optical character recognition, or OCR, to identify text and auto fill text fields. Several are able to decipher cards in different languages and translate the text before saving the information.
You should be able to slip your business card scanner into a laptop bag, purse or even your pocket. That way, it can go with you and be on hand whenever you need to scan some cards and save some information. Look for a device that scans quickly, around 10 cards per minute. Also, consider whether or not you need the device for a PC or Mac since there are a limited number that are compatible with each. It is also important to know how much memory is required for the software, or mobile app, to be installed and used.
How big of a device you need depends on where and how you will be using your card scanner. If you are continually on the go, consider a small unit capable of scanning only business cards or a mobile app that turns your cell phone or tablet into a scanner and completely eliminates the need to carry an additional item with you to your business meetings or conventions. If you will be scanning the majority of your business cards from your desk, a larger device maybe more economically feasible, especially if you also scan larger documents such as important letters or contracts.
Help & Support
Business card scanners are extremely user-friendly and shouldn't require much additional help for setup or use. However, electronics are renowned for their ability to break and generally make life difficult. If you come across any problems, you should be able to contact the manufacturers through email and telephone support. FAQs sections and online copies of user manuals are useful in finding quick answers to common questions and problems. Your business card scanner should come with an industry standard one-year warranty.
Business card scanners are designed to take a burden off your hands while giving you a quick solution to saving potential business leads quickly before they get lost. Our business card scanner review has several options to choose from, depending on your particular need, and includes physical devices and mobile apps.