Proximity and beacon marketing is tying the online to brick and mortar
Bluetooth low-energy beacons have been getting a lot of traction over the last few years, and enjoyed particular attention from retailers, giving a new jolt to the development and spread of proximity marketing. If you haven’t encountered the term before, they are transmitters that broadcast their signal to nearby mobile devices and are capable of interacting with them when in close proximity. And judging by the numbers in which they are produced and installed, they are going to become a mainstay of any retail store over the next couple of years – which means that if you haven’t yet jumped on the bandwagon, it is perfect time to do so. Here are some good reasons to do this:
One of the most popular uses of beacon technology is delivering place- and time-based messages to the owners of mobile devices who have relevant apps installed. For example, a store can trigger an ad about a special discount if the client gets sufficiently close – so that he can decide that the offer is good enough to drop in. A café or restaurant can trigger an ad during a lunch break when the customer is nearby, making it more likely to be followed through. Another good example is ImMarket’s Lapsed Shopper approach that specifically targets clients who changed their habits and stopped shopping at your location trying to persuade them to return.
Instead of receiving the ad message at random moments (as in, e.g., TV or newspaper commercials), the client sees it in relevant context, which significantly increases its efficiency.
2. Data collection and analytics
One of the beacons in retail applications that is often overlooked despite outstanding prospects it offers is functionality in collecting data that can hardly be achieved by retail in any other way. An online store can easily receive large amounts of data about its visitors (some inaccuracies are inevitable, but they don’t ruin the picture in general), but brick-and-mortar shops are much more limited in this respect. By tracking the movements of mobile devices beacons can provide you with all sorts of info: which parts of your store get the most and the least intensive traffic, how much time shoppers spend in areas dedicated to specific types of merchandise, the ratio between first-time and return customers, routes usually taken by employees and much more.
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How you use this data is only limited by your ingenuity: based on it you can improve the shop layout, relocate merchandise, create shopper profiles, improve employee efficiency and so on.
Personalization is already a standard tool for online stores, and beacon technology makes it readily available for brick-and-mortar shops as well. Everything – special offers, coupons, discounts, product recommendations and more – can be customized based on a previous behavior of the customer: what he bought and in what combinations, at what times he visited the store, how often he bought a specific item. It will help you in building up long-term customer loyalty by anticipating his needs and increasing customer engagement – by up to 60 percent in some cases.
Although beacon technology does incur some maintenance and operational costs (which will get higher if you use beacons of different models from different vendors, so standardization is a good idea), they are usually much more affordable than most other high-tech devices aimed at increasing customer engagement. For example, Gimbal proximity beacons with a range of up to 50 meters (more than enough for most small stores) cost between $5 and $50, with minimal battery consumption. This tech also doesn’t require considerable knowledge to install, set up and start using. As a result, you get an affordable and low-risk investment – even if it doesn’t work out, you won’t lose much.
Beacon technology offers an excellent opportunity to drive sales, increase customer engagement and build up brand loyalty. However, they won’t magically change anything if you only install them. Practice shows that many store owners quickly lose enthusiasm and don’t use a tenth of their potential functionality, often without even bothering to send position-based notifications.
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Jim Beck, the President of Baytech Mobile has been programming websites and sending digital marketing messages for over 20 years. He works with clients to help them engage the mobile consumer through mobile and text message marketing solutions and strategies. He loves to help others implement mobile marketing into their businesses He hopes you enjoy this mobile marketing blog as much as he does writing it!