Given the attention beacons have been gathering these days, it can safely be said that these tiny devices are bridging the online and offline worlds like no other technical advancement has, in recent years. Businesses spanning across various industry verticals have stood up and taken notice of iBeacon technology and are increasingly adopting it. Museums, hotels, stadiums, airports, malls, restaurants, theme parks and zoos alike are busy piloting or deploying beacons on their premises.
Are you a business that can benefit from beacons, but are not sure about how and where to begin and go about devising your own beacon strategy?
In this post, we will discuss how you can plan and implement a beacon strategy.
So where do you start? With an app, of course!
Beacons can do nothing by themselves; they can only work in tandem with an app.
You can choose between having your own app, or integrating with Passbook or a generic sales app such as Powa Tag or Shopkick . Once you figure your app out, you are ready to start planning a beacon implementation strategy. Here are the steps involved:
Step 1: Procure the right beacon hardware for your business.
With a plethora of beacon hardware options available in the market, it’s common to have questions about choosing the right beacon hardware for your business.
Here are a few questions that will help you identify the right beacon hardware.
1. Should your beacons be battery-powered, USB-enabled, or powered by electromagnetic waves?
2. Do you need indoor beacons or sturdy all-weather beacons that can be used outdoors?
3. Will your business benefit more from beacons that come with built-in WiFi for internet connectivity?
Step 2: Deploy and manage a fleet of beacons
After you have purchased beacons, you need to deploy and manage them.
The most common questions are around:
1. Planning placement of your beacons – whether they can be left easily noticeable or should be placed in accordance with the aesthetics of your premises.
2. Whether you carry out beacon deployment with your own team or outsource it to an external agency – depends on the scale of deployment.
3. Accounting for interference from other devices. This is crucial because beacons are radio transmitters and radio signals can be absorbed by various media such as water, air etc.
4. Managing and maintaining beacons – using a beacon management system to help you monitor last ping time, battery levels, firmware version upgrades, etc.
Step 3: Manage messaging and campaign analytics
Once you have deployed beacons, it’s important to integrate beacon-enabled campaigns into your marketing, sales and customer engagement strategies. Assess if you need a platform to manage these campaigns. For small scale deployments, you may choose to code beacon-triggered campaign logic into your mobile app’s source code.
But as you scale up, for every new coupon or discount deal, it will not be possible to keep rolling out updates to your app on the app store. Choosing a software platform for managing notification rules and measuring the effectiveness of your campaign through analytics is therefore crucial.
What factors do you need to keep in mind while choosing a platform? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Choose a campaign management platform that is agnostic to beacon hardware. (i.e) If you choose to go ahead with the software platform offered by your beacon manufacturer, make sure that the platform will work not only with their beacon, but other iBeacon compliant hardware as well.
2. Look for a platform that will satisfy multiple stakeholders who are likely to use the platform
i) A Marketer might need an easy-to-use dashboard to set up new deals and trigger new coupons, the threshold time for beacons to trigger a notification etc., without depending on a developer.
ii) A Salesperson might want to know whether using beacon-triggered notifications has minimised the need for customer handholding and how these campaigns have increased overall sales.
iii) A Developer might want mobile SDKs to integrate the platform with his/her existing app
iv) A Loyalty program manager would love to have a beacon messaging platform that integrates with their existing loyalty CRM. This way all the data flows into one place.
Step 4: Integrate iBeacon technology into your app
Once you are done with deploying beacons and zeroing down on a platform to manage them, the next step is to integrate iBeacon technology into your app.
Typically, the software platform you chose in the previous step will allow you to use their SDKs and drop them into your existing app.
Our webinar on ‘How to integrate iBeacon technology in an app’ talks about the various ways in which businesses can integrate beacons with their mobile strategy.
Step 5: Go live! (but with a robust proximity marketing strategy)
For your beacon strategy to be successful, it’s important to understand that there is very fine line between “engaging” and “annoying” your customers with beacon notifications. You need to make sure that you engage them enough for them to see the value in your app, instead of overwhelming them with a swarm of notifications. Adding indoor navigation, offering contextual deals and product information, using analytics for better space layout, etc., can help make your beacon strategy a success.
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!