Have you ever heard of proximity marketing? It leverages users’ GPS location to send them personalized messages coupled with rich media content. All proximity marketing applications are embedded with technological systems that are able to track users, particularly their device’s location, within a specific area or point of interest. Do you know one of the best technologies to immediately reach and communicate with users as they pass by a specific place? Yes, BEACONS!
What are beacons? 🤔
When dealing with geolocation marketing, we can’t neglect beacons! They’re technological devices, installed inside stores or in some public areas, projected to provide information to mobile devices that are located within a certain range. Beacons are based on the BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology that can send broadcast messages and simultaneously reach more users within a beacon’s range. So, for proximity marketing, this is a fundamental technology! Plus, beacons can transmit information and contents to all mobile devices in the surrounding area thanks to micro-location. This is possible because they’re able to get detailed information on the physical place of installation.
Compared to all other geolocation systems (GPS, WiFi, and NFC), BLE technology has some advantages:
- it can be embedded in every small device;
- it consumes very little energy;
- its signal has a very high frequency and a range of up to 50 meters.
Wondering about how companies and other organizations use beacons in practice? For example, if you usually check your bank account on your mobile app, you’ll probably have noticed that when you’re nearby your bank area, you’re likely to receive a notification to remind you of some interesting initiatives your bank has implemented.
How do beacons work?
Ok, you got the example, but I guess you want to know how beacons exactly work, right? That’s pretty easy. When a user goes through an area where a beacon is set up, this last one sends a code with a message to the user’s mobile device. After a few seconds, the message pops up as a push notification on the user’s mobile device within a mobile app. Cool, uh?
You just need 3 things to make the system work:
- at least one beacon device, of course;
- a mobile app;
- user’s permission.
Every beacon works exactly this way: it repeatedly transmits identifiers, which are picked up by mobile devices. And then, beacons track where users are. To clarify, an identifier is a unique ID number that smartphones recognize as unique to the beacon which sends it. Once the beacon is “connected” to a mobile device, the beacon will carry out its task, i.e. sending an in-app message.
Why you should go for a proximity marketing strategy strengthened by beacons 🤩
What more do I need to know about this technology? This is what you’re thinking right now, isn’t it? How can it help me meet my business goals? I’ll tell you now. Here, I’ll discuss the benefits of technology for your marketing strategy. Let’s gooo!
First off, by connecting the signals of your beacon to your Google Ads, you gain a lot of useful insight into your users’ offline activity and may be able to track their in-store visits. This way, you can attribute a unique number to each online user who walks into your store. Can you see a competitive advantage here? Any important information you’d like to transmit to your potential customers can be sent to any mobile device which passes within the range of the beacon you’ve installed. Of course users should have set the beacons research on their device. It could be a simple alert to notify users that they’re nearby your shop or a message related to discounts, loyalty programs, and competitions you’re running.
In addition, by using this location-based technology, you can personalize your out-of-store marketing, helping you increase foot traffic to your store. Remember that mobile marketing plays a key role nowadays because we can’t do without our mobile devices. That’s why proximity marketing is so important and also very likely to continue to grow. Therefore, by properly implementing it, you can improve your digital strategy and even enhance the user experience.
Main bacons’ pros and cons
Beacons’ pros 👍
- Low cost – they are really small devices made of low-cost materials, like plastic. That’s why they’re more cost-effective than other technologies;
- Easy to adopt – most beacon devices are quick to deploy. Plus, deploying beacons at scale is also easy with parent beacons;
- truly effective;
- improve customer experiences – they allow companies to send personalized notifications and ads. You can easily understand why they’re one of the most popular ways to engage customers across industries;
- data collection;
- Reliability and scalability – they are dependable devices. As they use Bluetooth, so thick walls or underground areas shouldn’t be able to block their signals. In addition, some beacons have to possibility to boost their signal against exogenous factors;
- Vast outreach – all modern smartphones support beacons’ technology. This means that you can reach out ANYONE, and ANYWHERE.
- Easy implementation – most beacons come with an SDK and back-end management tools, making it easy to integrate a beacon solution with already installed applications.
Beacons’ cons 👎
- User permission – most beacon technologies require user consent. For example, some users could simply decide to turn off their Bluetooth, preferring to miss out on your beacon experience, even if it’s an exciting and non-pushy one;
- A mobile app is needed – they work only along with a mobile app. You could go for third-party apps, but if your goal is to deliver a great experience, you’ll need to add a feature to your app;
- There’s no silver bullet – they are widely used in retail and many other industries. But be careful because implementing beacons means you should get a software engineer with expertise in beacon technology, and this process takes time. Even more, if your company is a medium size. So, beacons are not a one-and-done decision!
An inspirational case study on beacons: Canali di Bologna
Canali di Bologna, which has been working in the architectural, technical, historical, and cultural heritage for years, has created and promoted the Canali di Bologna free app, developed with the technical support of Mumble S.r.l.
Canali di Bologna is a beacon-based app dedicated to the centuries-old history of the city. Thanks to the installation of several beacons near the main points of interest in that area, all the mobile devices passing through there can proactively interact with beacons, which provide users with an interactive audio guide. In this case, the beacon technology serves a dual purpose: micro- locating users’ devices with high accuracy and encouraging proactive interaction with the appropriate connection.
Texts, photos, audios, and videos can be uploaded through a simple and intuitive backend control panel. In this way, the platform can be updated remotely without any problem or additional cost.
In a nutshell, beacons use proximity technology to track users’ presence nearby a certain point of interest and deliver information, contents, and personalized experiences.
Beacons will also help you to better understand your audience, supporting and enhancing your marketing activities. Indeed, you’ll more easily collect data both on offline and online users.
In the end, beacons will also improve the user experience by adding an additional layer of personalized interaction during the shopping experience: targeted ads and offers from users’ favorite brands build trust, security, and familiarity.