Five Tips to Design and Launch an Effective BLE Beacon Campaign
Beacons allow retailers to not only recognize an in-the-moment contextual need, but also to instantly provide the ability to meet that need when it’s convenient for the user.
This is a contributed post by Casey Markee, founder of digital agency Media Wyse.
“I have one simple purpose in life. I’m a beacon. I send out my signal. That’s all I do.” — The Lighthouse
BLE beacons are the lighthouses of the 21st century. By themselves, they don’t do much. Beacons are just low-cost transmitters that send out a Bluetooth Low Energy signal to Bluetooth-enabled smart devices within a specified range or zone.
But when the transmitted beacon signal is then converted by an app or SDK into a preconfigured action, the customer is then able to do a myriad of things, including triggering a coupon or loyalty award; presenting a map based on user location; offering push notifications tied to timing elements; throwing up customer service prompts for increased personalization; and much, much more.
Beacons are the latest evolution in the field of convenience marketing. Beacons allow retailers to not only recognize an in-the-moment contextual need for a consumer, but also to instantly provide the ability to meet that need when it’s convenient for the user.
And it’s a trend that’s blowing up in 2016 and beyond.
According to Business Insider, 85% of the top one hundred US-based retail locations will have beacons installed and running by the end of 2016. The total number of beacons estimated to be deployed worldwide by 2020 is currently projected at a staggering 400 million.
But with so many brands, retailers, and venues rushing out to embrace beacons and the proximity benefits they may provide, a little knowledge can be a very bad thing. To that end, here are five best practices to consider when designing and launching your very first beacon proximity campaign.
1. Define your Goals: Do you Really Need a Beacon Campaign? Beacons may seem cool, but before you consider investing in beacon messaging, you need to define your business goals.
Some questions to ask before you pull the trigger may be the following:
Will this campaign drive repeat store traffic?
Will this campaign increase brand loyalty on new and existing customers?
Can I use this to cross-sale or upsale products?
Are there customer service enhancement benefits?
Will the campaign increase mobile and social engagement?
Your beacon campaign should ensure your investment drives actionable, measureable results
2. Accurate Messaging: Does your Beacon Messaging Provide Value? For your beacon campaign to be effective, your messaging must deliver valuable, relevant and, most importantly, timely information.
A good example that meets all three criteria is that provided by the Eddystone beacon deployment for Portland transit authority TriMet. Commuters can receive just-in-time information on train departures and arrivals at any of 87 light rail stations.
This kind of deployment is very ubiquitous in that it pops up the information via your embedded notifications screen on Android, and just recently, with iOS. Users just need to have Bluetooth turned on and be in range of the beacons to receive the messaging.
3. Duty of Care: Is your Audience being Fully-Informed? All beacon marketing requires the use of smartphone location services. It also requires the use of Bluetooth, which for most users, is turned on by default on most phones.
Regardless, retailers and beacon users MUST provide clear opt-in instructions that give users the power to control beacon messaging. For most stores or locations that means making sure that a required opt-in procedure begins at the entrance or outside the venue. Give them a sneak peek and then ask them to opt-in (i.e., “Welcome to ABC Retail. Opt-in now for valuable coupons, offers and loyalty rewards.”).
For beacon app networks like Swirl or Mobiquity Networks, a similar message that informs the user (.ie., ABC Retail has partnered with XYZ to bring you customized offers. Opt-in now to review them.”) they may be targeted through a third-party partner app is essential.
4. Beacon Deployment: Have you Optimized your Beacon Placements? Now that you’ve decided on the type and number of beacons you need, you need to place them for maximum effect.
Common beacon placements include store and venue entrances, along high-traffic walkways, behind specific displays, or even at check-out. Placement is all about meeting defined goals. If you are looking to serve users a “navigational map” then doing so at the entrance is clearly best. In contrast, if you were looking to encourage loyalty card use or new sign-ups, check-out register placement would be opportune.
To get an idea of optimal beacon placement, consider a free tool like the Estimote Beacon Mapping SDK. This is a cool tool that will allow you to map out and interact with a beacon placement in real-time. It’s designed for Estimate beacons but it will work as a walk-through for any of them.
5. Cross-Marketing: Is your Beacon Campaign an Isolated Marketing Initiative? Beacons do not have to be a closed loop product. What if we can take that beacon driven data and then retarget to those same customers later, online, after they left the stores?
Well, you can, and it’s not overly difficult. Xone beacons by Yext are an example of how this is being done now and being done well. Launched in September 2015, Xone beacons allow local retailers to collect data from in-store visits, then retarget to those customers on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) by matching their beacon data to publicly available social data.
By using custom analytics and attribution tracking through Google Analytics, retailers can not only garner demographic information on their existing customers but they can then track those same customers online and serve them targeted offers at their convenience through the creation of Facebook Custom Audiences.
There will always be the vocal critic or two who see the beacon movement as more hype than reality. And when you see estimates that beacons alone will influence over $400 billion in retail sales in 2016, it’s hard not to take those stats with a grain of salt.
But what isn’t in doubt is that a well-designed beacon messaging campaign that makes use of the top five best practices can improve your bottom line results with existing customers.
And with the ability to set-up and launch a beacon campaign at most retail stores for less than $89 and in 24 hours, it’s also relatively easy to implement. What are you waiting for?
*Casey Markee is the Founder of digital agency Media Wyse and has over sixteen years of experience in the fields of digital marketing and strategy. Casey has trained SEO teams on five different continents and spoken on the topics of Beacons and IoT at SMX Advanced, State of Search, Searchfest and more. Find him online at www.MediaWyse.com or follow him on Twitter @MediaWyse