Hark, I hear a Beacon!

Hark, I hear a Beacon!

I’ve just downloaded the SnipSnap app from iTunes. While I use coupons on occasion, my main purpose for getting this app is to experiment with its ability to interact with beacon technology. Beacons are making their way into a number of bricks and mortar retail stores such as Target, Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay to name a few. With the proliferation of technology and with smartphones in everybody’s back pocket, I’m guessing that the 2015 holiday shopping season will be an interesting testing ground for retailers to engage beacon technology while trying to influence the customer buying experience.

Let’s face it, our world is cluttered with messages. The key to gaining a more loyal customer is to reach them with the right message at the right time. This is where beacon marketing comes into play.

So, let’s break this down into two parts.

The first is the consumer experience and how the beacon works. A beacon looks like a USB drive, and to draw an analogy, behaves similarly to GPS by detecting your smart phone’s presence and location. The beacon is constantly emitting a unique identifier signal over short distances that can be programmed with a range of three meters and up to 50 meters. They can be placed indoors in shopping malls, museums, tradeshows, outdoors and even on moving objects such as an ice cream van. When my Bluetooth enabled smart phone comes into range of the beacon and there is a match between the identifier signal and my SnipSnap or Passbook app, I get a notification on my phone’s lock screen, indicating that I have received a promotional offer from that retailer.

The second part of the equation is from the marketer’s perspective. Serving up an ad, a coupon or value added product information will influence a customer’s decision. Before a company jumps into beacon marketing, there are a number of factors that need to be considered:

  • Remember to follow permissions based protocols, after all we are dealing with a personal device;
  • So as not to disappoint, make sure there is real value and relevance for the customer;
  • Approach this marketing tactic like any other – setting targets, planning, and analyzing data along the way;
  • Starting small is perfectly fine and a good way to test the waters;
  • Create clever and simple messages perfectly suited to mobile screens;
  • Involve your sales team to make sure they are able to support the beacon-triggered campaign.

I’m still waiting to receive the first beacon-triggered campaign ad on my phone and I look forward to seeing how this will potentially become part of mainstream technology.