Beacons just might be the next big thing in mobile marketing. As the name suggests, a beacon is a small device that uses Bluetooth to detect and communicate with smartphones in range, typically within 150 feet; they can be used for everything from a simple welcome message to pushing out promotional offers. Beacons have also picked up the name “nearables” for their proximity-based functionality.
With studies reporting stats as high as 90 percent of customers using their smartphones in store while shopping, beacons are an attractive option for challenger brands who can send highly targeted customized communication to engaged customers.
Beacons are not to be confused with geo-fencing, which uses GPS or radio frequency identification technology to target devices based on a geographical area. As an example, Beacons can target a device when it enters a store; geo-fencing can target a device when it is detected at an intersection.
Here’s a sampling of how beacons are being used:
- Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and Target are offering personal recommendations and promotions.
- Madea vodka has launched a light-up LED media bottle with custom messages.
- Starwood is piloting keyless room check-ins.
- Airlines and airports are also exploring beacons to share information.
Here are some simple ways that challenger brands can use beacons to personalize the customer experience:
- Offer a welcome note to users.
- Prompt users to like your social pages, post pictures, or check in.
- Push limited time offers.
- Bring attention to a product display.
- Send a special offer before they exit.
- Invite users to download your app.
- Ask customers to write a review.
- Provide a way to ask for customer service.
It will be fun to watch how beacons evolve and enhance the mobile experience. One thing’s for sure, they’re not going away.