As consumer mobile device usage skyrockets, businesses have turned to digital marketing strategies that incorporate mobile marketing, social media marketing, mobile-optimized search engine optimization and much more.
Bluetooth beacons are a relative newcomer to digital marketing that incorporates location data, promotions and analytics to boost sales and build customer loyalty. We’ll explore Bluetooth beacon technology and how brick-and-mortar businesses can incorporate this cost-effective channel into their marketing strategy.
What are Bluetooth beacons?
Bluetooth beacons are small, low-energy Bluetooth devices that transmit uniquely identifiable signals – called BLE signals – that mobile devices can detect via an installed app. Once the app detects the signal, a push notification arrives on the phone with a distinct, contextual message.
Beacons are a cost-effective location-based marketing technique. With a range of about 165 feet (50 meters), they’re considered a type of proximity marketing, along with geofencing and RFID and NFC tags. Along with sending consumers messages, beacons integrate data from online analytics to provide businesses with real-time customer data.
In a study by Factual and Lawless Research, 89% of companies’ sales increased when they used proximity marketing in their local marketing strategy.
How can businesses use beacons?
Retail businesses were the first to incorporate beacons. Now, other business types are utilizing beacon technology to boost convenience, gain insights and increase sales.
1. Retail businesses use beacons to boost sales and gain insights.
Retailers use beacons to deliver product-related notifications, such as promo codes, special promotions, discounts and coupons, to customers while browsing in the physical store. Web-based customer analytics can provide each customer’s visit frequency and browsing history to help retailers further personalize customer messages.
For example, say a customer was shopping online and abandoned a shirt in their shopping cart. The retailer could use a beacon to transmit a message to the customer suggesting they try on that shirt while in the store.
Beacons can also provide additional consumer insights to boost sales. For example, they can reveal customer shopping behavior data to suggest two products that could generate more sales if they were bundled.
Apart from marketing, retailers can use beacon technology to track assets and reduce theft. For example, you can configure a beacon alert for when a product moves outside of in-store boundaries.
2. Sports stadiums use beacons for logistical convenience.
Venues where large gatherings occur, especially stadiums, hold plenty of potential for location-based marketing. Consider the complex logistics catering businesses may face when serving food and drinks to such massive crowds. They’ll need to manage order requisition, salespeople, point-of-sale counters and much more.
Beacons can help streamline the entire process. With in-seat beacons communicating with customers’ mobile devices, customers can pre-order items, book order requests and contact salespeople through their app. App data provides customers’ seat locations and details, helping ensure prompt, organized service.
Apart from streamlining orders, stadiums can use beacons to deliver special offers from various retailers within the venue. An integrated map can further enhance the experience.
3. The travel industry uses beacons for marketing alerts and convenience.
Cabs in the U.K. are an excellent example of beacon implementation in the travel industry. Beacons are installed in cabs so that customers receive marketing alerts during their journey, which usually lasts about 20 minutes.
Marketing alerts have recorded transactions through apps during a customer’s time in a cab. Proximity marketing company Proxama’s network covers major transport facilities across London, making the capital outreach enormous for app-based marketing.
Beacons can also be used for rental car returns, making the process quicker and more efficient.
If you have a loyalty program, use beacons to encourage satisfied customers to write positive reviews of your business or products while they’re in your store.
4. The real estate industry uses beacons to help buyers and sellers.
Let’s say you’re in the process of buying a new home. You may unknowingly pass many for-sale properties as you go about your day. With beacon technology, you could receive smartphone alerts as you pass potential homes for sale and get a chance to evaluate them.
Proximity devices save time for buyers and sellers alike. They can provide buyer details to sellers, including visit frequency, while offering property and seller information to prospective buyers.
Beacon devices installed at property entrances can prompt visitors and passersby to register via an app and receive property-related notifications, including property history information, evaluation details and virtual property tours. Buyers could also submit feedback and ask questions via the system.
5. Beacons bring convenience to restaurants and the food industry.
In the food industry, beacon technology can boost customer engagement for restaurants and streamline grocery selling. These are some potential uses:
- Alerting passersby of promotional offers and specials
- Providing order-in-advance features to busy customers to cut down on wait times
- Allowing customers to book their tables through your app
- Updating customers about offers on their favorite items and special events
- Enabling mobile payments
6. Beacons can reach event participants.
When events are held, beacon technology can help boost attendance and engage with participants. For example, if there’s a rally for a sports team or politician, organizers can use beacons to reach out to potential attendees with information about the event. They can also use the technology to collect attendee data and send out email sign-up forms.
Event organizers can also use beacons for contactless ticketing and admission, opening turnstiles when the technology detects a ticket on the attendee’s phone. Multiple beacons inside large events can track attendance and utilization to improve future events.
7. Beacons can improve healthcare.
Japan’s massive Nagoya University Hospital uses beacons to monitor patients’ vital signs and track patient and employee locations. When a patient’s vital signs – such as heart rate, movement and stress level – exceed or dip below specific levels, beacons alert the staff immediately. In addition to improving response time and reducing negative patient outcomes, beacons can be used to calculate the amount of time medical staff spends with patients to improve efficiency and care.
Nursing homes can use a similar system to monitor residents’ health and movement. For example, if a patient with dementia wanders off, beacons can alert staff immediately, allowing them to respond and keep the patient safe. Doctors’ offices can use beacons for contactless check-in, prompting the system to pull up patient records, which reduces wait times.
8. Beacons can improve shopping malls and other large venues.
Beacons can provide maps of shopping centers, airports, and museums, showing people where places of interest are in relation to their current location. Beacons can also communicate crucial information at amusement parks, such as pointing visitors to attractions with the shortest lines.
Bluetooth beacons enhance business intelligence by helping companies gather information and measure customer behavior in real time.
What are the benefits of Bluetooth beacons?
Beacons provide extensive benefits to businesses and customers. Because they’re location-based, beacons help marketers make the best business propositions at the right time and place. Some of the benefits of beacon technology include the following:
- Boosting in-store sales: Beacons can revolutionize the retail experience by offering greetings, providing coupons and discount offers, and upselling products and services.
- Enabling cashless transactions: When customers pay via the beacon-connected mobile app, it’s more convenient for them, and businesses require fewer cashiers.
- Using big data to become more responsive: Big data analytics create a more relevant and personalized marketing experience. Stores can study traffic patterns and optimize this data to improve sales. For example, say an apparel brand prominently displays its women’s collection. However, the visit pattern shows that men are more frequent store visitors. This information leads the brand to change its display. This data can help store managers experiment with product displays and examine customer responses.
- Monitoring revenue and promotion efficacy: Beacon data can show company executives the total number of successful in-app transactions occurring near each store location.
- Soliciting customer feedback: Businesses can use beacon technology to gather customer feedback about their store, product and service experience when it’s fresh in their minds.
- Supporting and informing salespeople: Customers can use the beacon-associated app to indicate when they would like in-person assistance. This data can give in-store salespeople insight into customers’ needs, helping them provide the right products and solutions.
- Increasing foot traffic: Sending marketing messages to someone sitting on the couch in the comfort of their home might not inspire them to get up and go to a store. However, sending such alerts to a person near a physical store can be effective.
<h2id=”do-beacons-pose-any-privacy-considerations”>Do beacons pose any privacy considerations?
Highly targeted marketing alerts during in-store visits considerably improve sales metrics and provide an enhanced buying experience to customers. But does this system pose any ethical or privacy considerations?
Fortunately, marketing techniques, including email marketing and business text messages, must follow an opt-in process where the consumer gives permission to receive communications.
Unwanted messages only frustrate users, so it’s in any marketer’s best interest to follow digital privacy laws to stay compliant.
How can you add beacons to your marketing strategy?
Follow these steps to add beacons to your marketing strategy:
- Create a business app. The key to using beacons is to have a business app. The app should be easy to use and give customers access to information and rewards they otherwise wouldn’t have. Use one of the best business app makers or hire a developer to create your business app and include beacon functionality.
- Choose a beacon provider. Next, you’ll need to choose a beacon provider, such as Beaconstac, Uberall or Footmarks.
- Program your beacon software. The next step is to decide precisely how you will use the technology. Will you send push notifications with discounts or other incentives, inform customers about in-store events, send games, or issue questionnaires? Use your in-house marketing team or hire a digital marketing expert to create the content and decide when and how it should appear. Program your content into your beacon software, and you are ready to bring in more sales and improve customer engagement.