That beacons have gone mainstream is hardly news now. As more and more businesses aim to use beacons in their stores/museums/hotels/events and more, they are all faced with the one problem – how do I scale with beacons?
Initially, most businesses (and as we often advise) start with a beacon pilot to test how beacons work, and if they will benefit from using beacons. Once they decide to go ahead with deploying beacons – a lot of things come into the picture. Some of the common questions that arise at this point are:
1. How do I manage a large number of beacons, spread across multiple physical locations?
2. Will I be able to run well-designed and targeted campaigns using beacons? Will it be a cumbersome task?
3. Is there a way to measure the ROI of investing in beacons? How easy/difficult is it to find out?
These are just the first few questions that come up, obviously there are a lot more! The answers to all of these depend on a few factors.
The most important factor being – what is the scale at which you are deploying beacons?
Managing 25-30 beacons is not a cumbersome task. But if you decide to deploy it across multiple physical locations, or if you have a sprawling area of physical space (a museums or a hotel) then managing so many beacons will be quite a task. How would you know if a beacon has been misplaced from its location, or a particular one has no battery left, when you are dealing with hundreds of beacons?
Also, in small scale beacon installations, notification rules will not require frequent changes, so baking the logic entirely into the app is sufficient. But, as the size of your beacon deployment grows, and the business rules get more granular and require constant updating, it is no longer feasible to maintain this logic within the app. After all, you can’t release an app update every time the promotion at a particular location changes!
You will need a platform for beacon management (also called a beacon management system) that can process all requests effectively and efficiently and also notify you about battery left, last ping time of various beacons, etc.
Similarly, as your app grows in popularity, the security aspect becomes even more critical – having a platform that is tested and hardened for security vulnerabilities is extremely crucial.
If your aim is not to simply track beacons, but to tie data from beacons to say – your loyalty CRM, Point of Sale (PoS) systems, social analytics tools etc., you definitely need a beacon management system.
We keep getting questions related to beacon management, managing beacon campaigns etc., from our readers. In this post, we will discuss some common questions that businesses assessing/planning beacon projects often have. Let’s get started:
#1. Will I be able to check if a particular beacon’s battery needs replacement, from a dashboard?
With a large number of beacons spread out over different locations, the task of beacon monitoring is one that falls onto a beacon management platform. A well designed beacon management platform will continuously track data coming from multiple beacons in the field, provide monitoring features such as battery left, and last ping time, and generate alerts to aid with beacon operations in the field.
Beaconstac, for instance allows you to monitor beacons through the platform’s dashboard.
#2. I don’t want to send only text offers to my customers. Is it possible to send rich text media, depending on the nature of my campaign?
Content management is a key task in proximity-based messaging. The challenge is when small bits of content like coupons, offers, promotions, multimedia files, etc., have to be managed and delivered flawlessly to mobile devices from a central system.
The Beaconstac platform offers Cards, that are a great way to manage and deliver rich content to your beacon-enabled app. Cards are basically creatives that show up as a notification on the user’s mobile phone when certain conditions are met.
With Beaconstac Cards, you can send rich content such as images, images and text, and multimedia, as part of your proximity-based messages and content.
Here are some of the card types:
-Summary Card: allows for a title, a small image and a little blurb of text
-Photo Card: allows for a title and a set of images
-Media Card: allows for a title and cloud-hosted media, say from from your own channels in YouTube, Vimeo, or SoundCloud
-Page: allows you to deliver a lot more textual content in a looser structure
Following is an example of a media card, that can be sent for say, an offer of 15% off on movie tickets at Cinemas:
#3. We are a large scale retailer and we often plan offers across physical stores in various parts of the world, for particular products only. Can I manage such campaigns using beacons, and not the PoS system that we currently use?
This is totally possible with beacons! Platforms such as Beaconstac offer the ‘Tags’ feature, using which you can assign the same set of rules/actions to multiple beacons across locations.
All you need to do is, as you deploy each beacon, you can “tag” it with some properties. For example, if you plan to run a campaign for shoes across all your store locations, you can configure a rule using tags:
If you’d like the particular shoes campaign to be targeted only at your London stores, all you have to do is add both the tags, “shoes” and “London”, and only the beacons with both the tags will trigger the rule:
#4. How can I check if my beacon campaigns are yielding results? Is there a way to do so?
The best way to check this is to have data around such campaigns. Analytics can help you assess which of your campaigns are working, which beacon locations work best etc.
In the Beaconstac dashboard you can view rich data for all your campaigns. Some of the analytics you can view here are:
1. Beacon Activity Chart in the Overview tab: This chart will show you the top five beacons that your visitors registered on.
2. Rules Performance Chart: This will give you a better picture of the 5 most popular beacon campaigns run at your store and the number of times each of these were triggered.
3. Visitor analytics: The visitor analytics page shows a list of visitors who visited your stores. As an overview, you can see their name (depending on the permissions your app has taken from them to collect this information), their last visited location, their last visit, the number of visits etc. You can also view a pie chart depicting new vs returning visitors. Here’s a sample table for a store:
Thus, using beacon platforms that offer a complete solution from the standpoint of security, management, and business process integration can be extremely helpful in running beacon campaigns successfully. The alternative is to try and do it all yourself, but is most likely to be time-consuming, expensive, and not in line with your core business.
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!