By Jim Meckley, Chief Marketing Officer of Mobiquity Networks
The first thing to know about beacons is that they are direct marketing tools to reach consumers who download a mobile app and grant permission to be reached through local notifications.
In fact, beacons are nothing more than small, inexpensive pieces of hardware that broadcast a Bluetooth signal intended to be recognized when a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device is in close proximity. Beacons work in conjunction with a mobile app and an associated content/campaign management platform to enable the app to identify its location and proximity to points or items of interest.
Beacons have caught on because they enable retailers,brands,and publishers to provide real value to consumer.
When done with the best interests of opted-in mobile device owners in mind:
Marketers can enhance customer interaction by providing localized, relevant content
Mobile campaigns can be managed and measured through access to real-time, detailed customer data
Businesses can experience an increase in customer app use, leading to customer loyalty
Beacons can play an important role in completing the omnichannel customer profile—delivering an understanding of in-mall and in-store activity
Many beacon programs are retailer-specific. Fewer give brands access to consumers in retail common areas.
Here is an example of a potential customer journey in Simon Malls, which has enabled beacon-based experiences in common areas:
Entry: Customers walk into a mall common area. Entering a beacon “region” initiates the engagement process.
Messaging: Contact with a mall entry beacon could trigger customizable messaging, simply welcoming customers to the mall, providing useful information or present an enticing offer. Importantly, this messaging can happen whether or not the app is running.
Campaign: Once engaged with the app, customers view a brand or retailer’s campaign content that is displayed. Content can be customized based on customer location, demographics or geo-behavioral attributes.
Entering a store: When customers enter a store after receiving real-time, localized campaign, in-store beacons enable direct campaign traffic attribution.
Exit: As customers exit a store/mall area, beacon signals provide another opportunity for engagement that, when used appropriately, can increase shopper loyalty.
Retailers and brands have the ability through beacons to draw attention back to previously dormant retailer apps at precisely the time when a consumer is shopping.
It works this way. The mobile user does not have to have the app open for communications via beacons to reach him or her. Consumers who agreed to receive messages from a brand or retailer or publisher will get a local notification when in proximity of a beacon that has been associated with that particular app.
Then, a brand or retailer can entice the shopper with an offer or other incentive to open the app, visit the store, and spend money there.
As is true with all emerging ad technologies, the final key to realizing the potential of beacon technology will be the ability of advertisers to deploy campaigns at scale, which is critical to make it practical to compete for the advertising budgets of traditional media spends such as television, radio and print.
The first experiments with beacons in retail have entailed individual store implementations.
Wide adoption by the advertising industry will require a national network of beacons that has the potential to engage with hundreds of millions of users in relevant locations.
And if, through beacons, a brand or retailer can reconnect an interested mobile user, sales and loyalty will follow.
Jim Meckley is CMO of Garden City, N.Y.-based mobile beacon provider Mobiquity Networks. Reach him on LinkedIn.