Beacon Marketing: What is it and is it Effective?

Beacon Marketing: What is it and is it Effective?

January 26, 2016 by Lynn Bates

13570864365_6c1d61155b_z.jpgBrick and mortar stores haven't had it easy recently.  More and more customers are turning to online sources as their primary form of shopping because they appreciate the convenience and how quickly they can access a wealth of additional information about the products.  If traditional stores want to keep up, they'll have to adapt to how technology is changing the retail landscape. This means finding ways to keep up with their customers' expectations for fast, high-value service.

The good news is that mobile marketing is one of the most effective ways of attracting customers to your store and encouraging them to buy more. There are now numerous small and cost-efficient devices that offer personalized advertising in stores.  Of these, Beacons are rapidly becoming one of the most popular options because they're quick and easy to install, and they offer targeted rewards and discounts.

What Are Beacons

Beacons are wireless Bluetooth devices which transmit signals that nearby cellphones and tablets can pick up.  These signals are used in a variety of ways.  The most common is sending coupons or information about promotions and products to the customer's phone. When customers opt-in to the Beacon request, they have the option of sharing some of their information like age, gender, and what sort of items they're interested in.  This allows theBeacon to send them personalized advertisements that are tailored to their individual preferences.

How to Use Beacons

Each Beacon is quite small and can be placed inside different housings so that they can either be clearly visible or blend in with decorations like a store display.  Because they use Bluetooth, they have a relatively short range which makes them ideal for sending advertisements or information about the products in a specific area.  This can be useful if you have a store with multiple departments so that customers will only get messages about the area they're currently in.  Beacons are also very affordable and typically cost less than $100 per unit.

One potential hazard of Beacons is that customers may not be familiar with what they are and become concerned when their phone starts suddenly receiving messages.  It'simportant that the Beacon first sends a clearly-worded text explaining that in-store advertising is being used and asking if the receiver would like to participate.  

How Beacons Are Being Used Right Now

Many malls and shopping centers are adopting beacons to provide users with convenience features like maps or information on store sales and opening hours.

In 2014 Macy's Department Stores installed Beacons in almost 800 stores.  These Beacons sent customers messages about coupons, sales, and personalized product recommendations.

Many airports are adopting Beacons to provide their passengers with faster and more comfortable service.  If customers have installed the Beacon app, they can get real-time updates about any delays, long security lines, or gate changes whenever they pass by one of the Beacon units scattered throughout the terminal.

Similarly, Virgin Atlantic Airlines utilizes Beacons to help their flight attendants keep up to date with customer preferences, special needs such as wheelchair assistance, and which passengers have a very short transfer time.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts recently ran a trial program that used Beacons to speed up check-in for their guests.  The Beacons would inform the front desk when the guest first arrived and also tell housekeeping staff if they were still in their room.

Getting Started With Beacons

Beacon-powered in-store mobile marketing offers companies a valuable opportunity to engage with shoppers at the precise time and place they are considering a purchase. Successfully implementing this type of mobile marketing campaign requires a well thought out plan and careful execution. Before launching a beacon marketing program or deploying your first beacon, consult with a mobile marketing expert to define a clear set of business goals.

Topics: Proximity Marketing

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