Over the past year, we have seen a number of brands, right from retail and museums to casinos, try their hands at leveraging beacons to enhance consumer experience. Most of these beacon trials were solely focused on exploring three main objectives:
1. Will consumers download the app?
2. How will they respond to push messages?
3. What are the different factors to consider during beacon deployment?
2015 will be the Year that Beacons go Mainstream
And now with all these questions answered positively, 2015 will see brands take a substantial leap in proximity marketing, as they shift from pilot projects to larger commercial deployments across various verticals. In fact, according to a recent study by AirSpace, 99% of brands have already considered including proximity marketing as a part of their 2015 marketing plan, of which 79% are planning to implement proximity marketing over the next 6 months. This clearly marks a signalled shift towards the explosion of beacon-led consumer interactions in 2015 and beyond.
One of the key factors that will play a crucial role in the speedy adoption of beacons is consumer app usage. According to a recent study by Comscore, apps drive the vast majority of media consumption activity on mobile devices, accounting for approximately 7 out of every 8 minutes. With consumers already spending a lion’s share of their time on mobile in apps, brands can rest assured that consumers will download their apps as long as it adds value to their experience.
However, inspite of all the hype around proximity marketing with beacons, many marketers, even today are unaware of how to integrate beacons with their mobile strategy. This has lead to a few disappointing beacon trials over the past year.
If you too are looking to gain insights on how to plan a beacon pilot roadmap or how to plan your pilot budget, you might be interested in checking out our recent webinar on ‘Your Guide to Planning a Successful Beacon Pilot’. It will set you up for success.
In this post we will discuss about what the next phase of beacons holds for brands and how marketers can make the most of it.
What the past tells us
While the year 2015 might be the “year of the beacon,” whether we will look back on it fondly will depend on how fast we learn from our past mistakes.
1. Being location aware is not being contextually aware
With the emergence of beacons, brands were quick to try and leverage these proximity-based devices to enhance consumer interactions by communicating with consumers based on their precise physical location. However, one important factor that was ignored by many is that, being location aware is not being contextually aware. This can often result in lack of contextualization. Just because you know that a consumer is in your store, doesn’t necessarily mean that you know the context of what they are looking for.
For example, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival recently tested iBeacon technology by deploying around 100 beacons at the campgrounds and main entryways to learn more about their attendees. Bonnaroo was able to control the messaging based on how the attendees behaved rather than merely pushing out blanket messages that may not be relevant to everyone. For example, if an attendee walked by one of the free hydration stations, they might receive a message asking if their water bottle was filled up. This kind of messaging, helped them boost attendee experience so much so that, 20% of those who downloaded the app, opted in to engage with beacon messaging, even without the organizers having advertised about it anyway.
2. There is more to beacons than merely pushing offers
While brands all over are busy leveraging beacons to bridge the offline and online worlds, it’s crucial that they understand that by merely using beacons to push marketing notifications , they are contributing to a bad user experience. Instead they could use beacons to gain deep insights on consumer behaviour, needs, preferences and wants.
For example, the beacon deployment at the Bonnaroo Music festival, helped improve attendee experience by laying the groundwork for real-time crowd heat mapping. They also found that during a particular concert, around 20,000 people stayed at the campground for the experience of staying with friends. This valuable insight has now changed their thinking on how to interact with fans in the future during the four-day event.
What does the next phase of beacons holds for brands?
We believe that the next phase of the proximity revolution will revolve around using the capability of beacons to make way for features that have kept marketers wanting for long. They are:
1. Intelligent Physical Retargeting
By now you’ve probably heard of “beacons,” and how they allow marketers to send targeted offers to consumers’ mobile device once they enter a physical store. A Norwegian startup Unacast, is planning to take the excitement around it to the next level, by using beacons to provide brands with a great opportunity to re-target online ads to consumers based on the actual items they have been looking at in-store. This will enable marketers to better manage and optimise their digital ROI with respect to the offline activity tracked through beacons. One of the main challenges here is gaining the trust of consumers. Unacast is able to manage this as all the data collected via beacons requires consent from the consumer within a brand’s app, and the company never shares a users’ location data with third parties, beyond their client.
How can marketers benefit from it: Most leading brands today consider big data to be one of their top priorities and have already spend significant resources on understanding their customers, both offline and online. In fact, many experts are of the opinion that, brands that fail to focus on data will lose out on market share. Thus, in the next phase of beacons, marketers will have to look for ways to understand and utilize this knowledge on consumer interaction, either in analytics, CRM, product development or online advertising. This is where solutions such as those offered by Unacast come into play.
2. Groupon to launch a targeted-deals product using beacons
Groupon recently announced its plans to launch a beacon based proximity marketing and mobile payments solution aimed at giving local merchants targeted access to consumers. With these tools expected to work actively across all Groupon merchant stores, brands will also be able to use these beacons to tailor and launch consumer-targeted promotions via proximity signals.
Last year, Groupon launched Gnome, a tablet-based point of sale solution for its merchants. Now with a mobile payment option on-board, Groupon expects to further the competition with Square and PayPal.
How can marketers benefit from it: One the biggest barriers of iBeacon technology today is consumer reach. Convincing users to download your brand’s app can be a tedious task. Besides there are also questions arising on whether consumers will prefer having different apps for different brands or a single aggregated app. We have already discussed about the pros and cons of using a beacon ad network to implement your beacon strategy. However, now with Shazam, Facebook and Groupon having jumped on the beacon bandwagon, brands have lot more options now.
Among them, we believe Facebook beacons in particular have a lot to offer. For example, By integrating Facebook beacons with deep insights on the needs and preferences of consumers, as gained from the pages he or she has liked, the photos that he or she mostly views or the conversations that he or she mostly engages in, brands can collect invaluable data points around which engaging ads can be tailored.
If you are planning a beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!