When a customer enters a car dealership on a busy afternoon and walks by the SUV section, a message pops up on her smartphone, explaining that the brand has the highest safety rating and best cargo capacity for its class. Strolling by the four-door sedans, she receives a message about a vehicle’s fuel economy and handling.
These messages seem to anticipate her questions and proactively provide information. In reality, her phone is simply the medium for information delivery, and beacons are hard at work behind the scenes. Beacons are small, unobtrusive devices that communicate with smartphone apps to relay information designed to improve the customer experience.
With beacons, a brand can communicate with customers in the moment, prompting actions that may have otherwise been missed. As beacons play a deeper role in location-based analytics and provide another channel for insight into customer behavior, marketers have a creative way to deliver personalized, relevant, timely information to positively impact customer engagement, elevate innovation and relevancy, and ultimately boost revenue.
Inside the Technology
Beacons empower the brand to identify, observe, and converse with customers along their specific journey. Enabling mobile apps to “listen” for signals, beacons react by sending a targeted message or offer to the customer’s smartphone. The technology enables the communication between a brand and a device based on location, even at a micro level.
A retailer can communicate a sale or special offer for a specific brand to a customer standing in front of the shampoo aisle. A brand can partner with the retailer to offer its own message to customers who are in the aisle. Although the beacon is a piece of hardware, it can be optimally configured for the right position, strength, and range.
For example, a national retailer needed to differentiate its furniture inventory for in-store versus online. Specifically, the company wanted customers to know if something new — say, a sectional or bedroom suite — was available in-store only.
Using a beacon positioned in a specific area of the store, the retailer sent a message about a new sofa and love seat to customers browsing the living room furniture section. Customers shopping for bedroom furniture received a text message about a new suite available in-store for a limited time only.
Beacon technology helped the retailer increase in-store sales by reinforcing exclusivity with a relevant, timely, and customized approach.
Important Ways Beacons Enhance Marketing
In addition to generating in-the-moment marketing, beacons can help a brand identify which products are profitable to make the footprint more efficient. This is particularly important for brands with multiple store locations. Co-branding and brand partnerships are also important to retail longevity. Beacons enable cross-promotion and incentives on the spot, helping to introduce products, promote brand synergies, and drive sales.
Beacons also provide insight into customer behavior by telling marketers what customers are doing in real time: where they’re going, what they’re buying, what they’re responding to, and more. Beacons can boost incremental visits by telling marketers who is likely to return to the store. This information enables the brand to have more relevant conversations with existing customers.
Beacon location data can be used in multiple ways:
- Couponing: Inform customers about offers to promote purchases and incremental sales in store, or inform about offers that are likely to promote return visits after customers leave the store.
- Store analytics: Enable retailers to understand where customers shop inside the store to help determine product positioning and brand footprint.
- Loyalty programs: Analyze the number and cadence of store visits to inform modeling and business decisions.
- Media activation: Enable marketers to leverage the data from mobile IDs to inform media activation decisions.
- Lead generation: Provide consumers an offer to use immediately in-store and ask for a sign-up or opt-in to email communications in exchange for access to the offer.
A Potential Differentiator
As strong business performance at the local level becomes critical, beacon technology can provide relevant, timely, and important information essential to capturing sales. The prevalence of smartphones, widespread acceptance of innovation, and the demand for an enhanced customer experience make it easy for brands to build a case for testing and deploying beacon technology. For brands that recognize the importance of relevant, localized marketing, beacons are another tool to drive customer engagement and realize impressive business results.