Beacon technology is in its infancy and some bigger brands have already tested the proximity marketing tool and failed. There are many reasons why.

Proximity marketing using Bluetooth is an incredible clienteling and customer acquisition tool but in unexperienced hands it ca actually have the opposite effect.

What is a Beacon Anyway?

A beacon is an object no bigger than the palm of your hand that can identify a beacon enabled phone from 70metres away. It can trigger the transmission of notifications/ messages to customers when they enter a certain range, such as immediate vicinity, 10 metres away, 20 metres away, 70 metres away.

This expands the usability as the near distances can be used for mapping while the further distances can be used to tempt a customer into the store. Although not recommended, a single beacon could potentially send four different notifications to the same customer as they walk closer or further away from the beacon.

What Are Notifications?

The notifications you can send depend on the usability of the beacon dashboard you use. For example, the BrandStreet beacon dashboard allows you to send many variations such as product, deal, content, menu, webpage, image or video.

Does the Beacon Hold Data?

The beacon itself doesn’t hold user data, the data transmitted will be held in your beacon APP. The beacon transmits a UUID, major and minor, which the APP is constantly searching for. When the APP finds the signal it releases the information to the customer.

What are the Benefits of Beacons for Brands?

Beacons can tempt customers into a store in real time as they pass by. Once a customer enters the store further beacons can map the area or deliver specific information on a product. Along with beacons there are also beacon stickers, known as nearables, which can be attached to anything (a pair of trainers or a dress) and trigger information to be revealed such as stock status, sizes available, other colours and delivery options.

In larger stores, museums and even airports, beacons can map the entire journey for a visitor taking over where Google maps leaves off (usually when you enter a building). Museums especially love beacon apps such as BrandStreet as it allows every single visitor to have their own personal tour guide in the palm of their hand, regardless of the amount of staff.

Can Beacons be Beneficial for Small Businesses?

It’s a common misconception that beacons are only beneficial to multi store brands when they actually offer a lot of value to a small business. When combined with the personal, local touch, the beacons can increase customer loyalty and further personalise the customer’s experience.

To avoid spending over the odds for the features required, the legalities and the terms and conditions associated with beacons it is best to take advantage of an APP like BrandStreet that does all of this for you for free.

How Can Mistakes be Made?

When beacons were first adopted in the UK brands became a little too excited. They didn’t want to miss an opportunity to use proximity marketing. They would assault the customer with notifications that would interrupt the normal use of a smartphone forcing the customers to opt out of beacon technology and thus losing a sale.

Today these notifications can still cause problems as they pop up on the home screen and cover a customer’s personal text messages or browser window. Research we’ve conducted shows that one notification can increase the chance of a sale whereas 3 notifications could put a customer off for life.

We’ve solved this problem at BrandStreet by having a real-time street and so notifications after the first (on the home screen) are delivered directly into the APP which has to be opened to view the promotions. It’s giving the customer an option and it works really well while eliminating the possibility of alienating the user or a brand’s app being deleted.

Privacy and Data Laws

Beacon marketing involves the collection of data as standard, customers are signing up to reveal their location and their presence. Early adopters of beacon technology found this was an obstacle as customers need to accept a whole new set of terms and conditions before being open to notifications.  We’ve found a way round this in this and other problems in this beacon technology blog post.

Beacons are a powerful marketing tool on their own but when combined with strategic marketing, clienteling and personalisation they really come into their own. Despite the teething troubles experienced by many beacons are here to stay and although they will inevitably adapt and change I would recommend learning more about them today.

I’ve been working within beacon marketing for a year now and found it is entirely different to other marketing avenues. Please do keep checking my profile as this is a lightweight beacon post and there are lots more best practice tips and advice to come.

As always I welcome your comments or questions.