GeoMinds: A Beacon of Success in Location Marketing
Hilmi Ozguc, CEO of location marketing specialist Swirl, offers five rules for launching a successful beacon marketing program.
Smartphones have become indispensable shopping companions and the numbers prove it. According to Google’s research, 84 percent of smartphone owners consult their devices while shopping in a retail store. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why retailers are so interested in creating valuable mobile experiences for their in-store shoppers.
Early beacon marketing results have been promising, with retailers seeing 60 percent engagement rates for beacon-triggered mobile messages and 73 percent of shoppers who receive those messages saying that it increased their likelihood to purchase while in-store.
Over the next few years, beacon marketing will emerge as a mainstream marketing channel for retailers as well as brands. Here are five essential rules for success, based on the experiences of innovative retailers who have been leading the charge.
Rule #1: Serve the Consumer.
The ability to influence a shopper’s buying decision at the store shelf is a powerful capability, but marketers need to remember that smartphones are inherently personal devices, and as such, marketing to them carries inherent risks. Consumers have little tolerance for unwanted messages or interruptions. To ensure that you are staying on the right side of the value vs. annoyance line, keep these things in mind:
a) Always create value for shoppers.
Our research has found that 77 percent of smartphone users are willing to share their location information, provided they receive enough value in return. While delivering special offers or highlighting existing sales provides clear value for shoppers, remember that discounts are only one of many campaign strategies that can be executed with beacon-triggered marketing. Sharing timely advice on style trends, delivering buying tips or offering access to product reviews are also ways to create value and enhance the in-store shopping experience.
Marketers should evaluate beacon marketing efforts against the following set of questions. If you can’t answer “yes” to at least one of them, then you should rethink your campaign.
- Will it help the consumer make a better buying decision?
- Will it save the consumer time or money?
- Will it inspire the consumer?
- Will it improve the overall shopping experience?
b) Be transparent.
Shoppers are much more likely to engage with beacon marketing if they understand the benefits and feel that they are in control of the mobile experience. Retailers should always ask for permission and explain what the consumer will get in return for opting in to beacon marketing. A message as simple as “Welcome to XYC Store. Opt-in now to receive valuable content and offers while you shop” can be used to start the relationship off on the right foot. And while some marketers may shudder at the thought of making it easy for shoppers to opt out of receiving beacon-triggered messages, it’s a key requirement for establishing trust with consumers.
c) Be relevant.
Sending hair and makeup tips to a male shopper who is passing through the cosmetics area on his way to the electronics department is a losing proposition. Advanced beacon marketing platform capabilities let you tailor messages based on audience profiles, while features like dwell time triggers help to target shoppers who demonstrate interest in a particular category or department.
Rule #2: Plan. Test. Analyze.
In order to deliver meaningful business results from beacon marketing campaigns, marketers must first define the goals and objectives they hope to achieve. Beacons can be used to drive sales, mobile engagement, and customer satisfaction, but measuring and tracking performance is essential.
Once performance baselines have been established, campaign variations can be developed and tested. Marketers can and should test everything from messaging and content to frequency and format. More advanced versioning based on shopper profiles and in-store behavior can be added over time to deliver even stronger relevance and campaign performance.
Rule #3: Start Small.
While retailers may be tempted to cover every square foot of their retail space with beacon signals, they will be much better served by taking a more measured approach. More beacons means more complexity for retailers to manage, and too many beacon-triggered messages can annoy shoppers.
In general, beacons should be deployed only in those areas of the store where meaningful digital experiences would add value. For retailers who are new to the technology, it’s a good idea to start with a small number of beacons to gain practical experience and learning and then add additional beacons over time. Specialty retailers with small store footprints may only need one beacon per store, while large multi-brand retailers typically start with beacons in 3-5 different areas or departments.
When designing beacon-triggered mobile campaigns, keep in mind that consumers’ primary goal is shopping. Marketers need to deliver easily digestible content with immediate value that enhances that goal. General design guidelines to ensure that mobile messages do not get in the way of the physical shopping experience include:
- Provide one clearly-articulated message per screen
- Leverage highly visual designs, with limited text
- Use a large font size, readable at arms length
- Include links for more detailed information
- Limit content file size to <300MB, for fast page loads
Rule #5: Involve Retail Sales Associates.
In-store employees play an important role in any beacon marketing program. In addition to answering questions that shoppers may have about the in-store mobile experience and the technology behind it, sales associates also play a key role in promoting mobile and omnichannel engagement. As such, education of store employees is critical to securing their support and advocacy for your in-store mobile marketing efforts. Remember to communicate beacon locations and campaign details ahead of time, so that they are well aware of the messages and content that is being delivered to shoppers.
*Hilmi Ozguc founded Swirl with the goal of revolutionizing the retail industry by leveraging the power of mobile technology to transform the in-store shopping experience. Hilmi previously founded Maven Networks, an early leader in Internet video technology, which was acquired by Yahoo! and today powers the video advertising infrastructure for the world’s largest network of Internet media properties. Earlier, Hilmi was founder and CEO of Narrative Communications (acquired by Excite@Home), a pioneer of rich media Internet advertising technologies that brought more effective branding capabilities to Fortune 500 advertisers and more engaging web experiences to consumers. Read more about Swirl here.
**Editor’s Note: Our “GeoMinds” opinion series features posts written by outside contributors from all parts of the GeoMarketing community who want to share their views of the trends, issues, problems, and solutions changing the online-to-offline advertising and marketing landscape.