Are beacons the next big technology? Can they help your business?

One of the hottest and most versatile new tools in social marketing are beacons. You’ve probably heard of them before, but may not completely understand how they work or what they’re capable of.

Luckily for you, we’ve got all the info you need to get started with beacons.

How Beacons Work

Put simply, beacons are a means of communicating with smartphones via bluetooth, low-energy, wireless technology.

These small devices are only able to transmit data to smartphones that are within a certain proximity. However, some beacons only communicate one-way – meaning they only push data to smartphones, and don’t collect any information from the phone. Other types of beacons communicate in both directions – pushing data and collecting data from smartphones.

One drawback of this technology is that for beacons to work, they must communicate with an accompanying app on smartphones. On top of that, users must not only have the app on their smartphone – they also have to have the app open to receive any information being pushed by the beacon.

Some companies have their own apps that works with beacons. For smaller companies, a Facebook beacon is often the most cost effective route as many people not only have the Facebook app on their smartphone, but often have it open as well.

So what kind of information can be shared or collected via beacons? Just about anything!

Everything from photos to event updates to in-depth product information can be shared through beacons. Prompts to join an email list or follow pages on social media are also options. Data collection provides even more options – beacons that collect data from smartphones can gather data on how users move through a store, what products they seem most interested in, and more.

Marketing With Beacons

Beacons provide many options for marketers, and can be exceptionally useful for lead capture and engagement.

No matter the objective of a marketing campaign, beacons can play a role. Want to sell more of a particular product? Push information about that deal to smartphones through beacons. Want to learn what section of your store customers spend the most time in? Gather that information through beacons.

If lead capture is your primary goal, pushing for email list signup is probably the best bet. With beacons, the options are endless, so you can even offer a discount or deal in return for in-store sign up.

If you want to increase engagement with customers, try promoting your social media pages through the beacon. A Facebook beacon makes this particularly easy by prompting users to visit your page and displaying highlights while they are in the store.

Beacons even allow for products to be sold directly through their corresponding app. They can also speed up checkout by using mobile payment systems.

Currently, beacons are most often utilized in retail stores. Brick-and-mortar establishments tend to have the most foot traffic, which means more opportunities for beacons to push and gather information. However, there are other opportunities to employ beacon technology, such as trade shows, conferences, or demonstrations.

The options for marketing with beacons are seemingly endless. This new technology is not only useful to marketers – it creates a more engaging experience for consumers. While beacon technology may seem on the fringe right now, expect to see it used a lot more in the next few years.