Google recently announced Eddystone support on the Chrome browser for Android devices, which is a great step in bringing interaction with the Physical Web content and seamless mobile experiences to the Android smartphone user segment.
The Physical Web is an open source approach to use the core superpower of the web – ‘Interaction on demand’. Alternatively, it is a discovery service – a smart object broadcasts relevant URLs that any nearby device can receive. The presence of Eddystone compliant Chrome browser and the Physical Web would allow people to walk up to any smart physical object and receive relevant content on their smartphones, without the need for downloading multiple apps. This is also one of the core reasons why Eddystone and the Physical Web is more relevant for small and medium businesses since it overcomes the challenges of app discovery and helps them to reach customers easily.
Eddystone is unique since it can be used both with and without an app. So, if you are one of the small and medium businesses that don’t have their own app and want to run an Eddystone campaign, all you need is a BLE beacon which supports the Eddystone-URL format and an effective URL (which can be a website URL, a social media page URL or even a youtube video URL). In case you have an app of your own, you can use Eddystone UID format, which is similar to iBeacon UUID format, for your Eddystone beacon campaign. However, it is always advisable to first run a pilot project before going in for a full fledged deployment for various reasons:
a. Any form of deployment, whether small scale or large scale, is an investment
b. The decision whether to develop your initial ideas into a full rollout requires research and testing
c. Running a pilot is the best way to get familiar with any new technology
d. Most recommended way, to find if the said technology is a good fit for what you want to achieve, is a pilot project
e. Understanding whether Eddystone can answer your business needs or would you need iBeacon instead
An Eddystone pilot would further assist you in several ways:
a. Preparing for the final deployment
b. Learning more about how to use the purchased beacons at your venue
c. Learning how to address challenges and problems in real-world deployments
In this post, we will assist you in planning out and setting up an Eddystone Campaign, with or without an app, from scratch for your business in four simple steps:
1) Identify the goals of your campaign
Before undertaking a beacon deployment, it is extremely crucial to understand and envision the goal of your campaign in order to plan, configure, execute and achieve the set goals. Without a proper set of goals, the campaign would be nothing more than a ship without navigation.
The goals for a campaign should be measurable and easy to understand. They should be defined in such a way that they can be used to inform and guide decisions during and after the campaign. Some of the common beacon proximity marketing campaign goals are shared below:
If you want to integrate your app with Eddystone beacons-
a. To increase mobile engagement rates
b. To influence in-store shoppers’ behavior
c. To increase in-store sales conversion rates
d. To improve in-store shopping experience
If you do not have an app-
a. To attract nearby customers to visit the store
b. To collect customer feedback via Customer Satisfaction surveys
c. For other analytics like Customer Response Rate
Once you decide the goal for your campaign, you can easily decide the URL you would want to use in order to direct your customers to the right page/link.
2) Purchase your beacons
The next step, after you set the campaign goal, is to accordingly zero in on:
a. The number of beacons required for the campaign
b. The type of beacons required
While choosing the right beacons for your campaign, there are a few things you would need to keep in mind:
a. Beacon Firmware
Firmware is the programed code or logic that enables the beacon hardware to operate. Every beacon has a specific firmware that controls several characteristics impacting the battery life:
I. Transmit Power – Beacon devices transmit a signal with a fixed base power, known as the Tx power. As the signal travels in air away from the beacon, the received signal strength decreases with distance.
– Higher Tx power means that the signal can travel longer distances with higher battery consumption
– Lower Tx power implies smaller range with less battery consumption
II. Advertising Interval – The rate or frequency at which a beacon emits a signal is called the advertising interval. An interval of 100ms means the signal is emitted every 100 milliseconds or 10 times in a single second. As the advertising interval increases,
– the battery life of the beacon also increases
– the responsiveness of the app on the phone decreases
b. Beacon hardware
Beacon hardware consists of a microcontroller with a Bluetooth LE radio chip and a battery. The battery can be of two types –
I. Coin cell battery – Coin cell batteries are dense Lithium Ion cells and provide up-to 1,000 mAh of stored power in a very small form factor. Commonly available coin cell sizes are 240 mAh (CR2032, small size), 620 mAh (CR2450, medium size) and 1,000 mAh (CR2477, large size). Beacons with Coin cell battery are lighter in weight. However, they are not as durable as the Alkaline AA batteries.
II. Alkaline AA batteries – A typical AA battery provides around 2,000 mAh power. It is significantly larger in size and heavier in weight as compared to the Coin cell battery. However, it is more durable.
III. Externally powered beacons – This type of beacon can be installed in a wall outlet or a USB outlet. They do not need battery replacement and can be economical in certain setups.
Another factor to keep in mind while deciding the type of beacon hardware is to keep its location of use in mind. Some beacons are specially designed for outdoor use whereas some beacons are aesthetically designed for indoor use.
3) Create a floor plan
Once you purchase beacons, you must survey the location of use. Remember that every space is different, and everything—from a room’s size to the material that walls are made of— affects the beacon signal strength. So, you must notice several aspects about the location of deployment, such as the ones mentioned below:
I. The material of walls – It is important to understand that concrete, water, and metal are all nearly opaque to Bluetooth. Materials that block or reduce signal strength can impact how the beacon performs. If you want your beacons’ signal to go through the walls, pay attention to the material they’re made of.
II. The number of objects that could potentially block the signals – Be aware that objects in the range of a beacon—sculptures, fountains, and even people— may block signal so it can’t reach users’ smartphones. This information is useful while deciding on the number of beacons to be deployed and adjusting their settings.
III. The idea of the amount of space between a potential receiver and a beacon – In case of huge vaulted ceilings and giant open spaces, like a warehouse, you may run into problems for the lack of a place to attach a beacon. On the flip side, cramped aisles and low-hanging fluorescent lights can make a retail shop floor extremely tricky to get good signal reception. Two points need to be kept in mind regarding the placement of beacons:
– To get best accuracy results, beacons must be placed at a height above average human body height to decrease the chances of interference. It should be around 10 to 12 feet above the ground level.
– In open spaces, it is suggested to place one beacon per 15 square meters.
4) Keep your app ready and test it
If you want to integrate an app with your Eddystone beacons, then you need to decide whether you would go for a third party app or your own app. In both the cases, you need to keep the app ready so that you can integrate your app data with the beacons. Following this, you can accordingly configure your beacons.
In order to check if your app is ready, test it with one beacon. Place a beacon and approach it using different smartphones and at different speeds. Once you do that, keep these points in mind:
a. If the beacon is triggering an action that is assigned to it
b. The time taken by the beacon to trigger the action
c. What happens if you try to access the triggered content while leaving the range of a beacon
d. Is the beacon consistent in triggering the required action properly on different smartphones
5) Set up your beacons, deploy, and test
After your floor plan is ready, you can easily install beacons at critical junctures and change the Tx power values of the beacons as per need (if your beacon platform allows you to do so). While configuring a beacon and deciding which one goes where, mark it on your floor plan by putting a beacon’s ID next to its spot on the map. This way you will be able to keep a track of the location of each beacon.
Tune your beacons’ settings so they match the location’s requirements, and address any problems that crop up while testing. Here are some FAQs that may assist you-
a. Issues you may face if you are using an app-
Issue 1 – You need to get too close to a beacon to get an app to trigger an action
Solution: Increase the Tx Power of the beacon. Alternatively, try increasing the advertising interval. Check what works for you.
Issue 2: A beacon does not display the relevant content
Solution: Since you tested the app and it worked, the problem must lie somewhere in the beacon that’s supposed to trigger the content. Check for its battery level.
Issue 3: Your app drains a lot of battery
Solution: Check if more than 7 of your deployed beacons are visible to your smart device at once. If yes, you need to decrease the Tx power across the board. Ideally, you would not want your smart device to see more than 6 beacons at one go.
b. Issues you may face if you are not using an app-
Issue 1 – A beacon does not trigger the URL properly
Solution: Check the battery level of the beacon. If it is fine, try to increase the Tx power and then, the interval.
Issue 2 – A beacon does not trigger the URL when approached from a specific angle
Solution: Check for things that may be blocking the signal and remove the obstacle if it’s possible. If the beacon mounted at the corner, try to move it to a side. You can also increase the Tx power.
Once you take care of all the points mentioned above, you will be ready to go with your own Eddystone campaign. To set up your Eddystone Campaign using Beaconstac, you can refer to this Eddystone Beacon Campaign for a hotel.
Did you find this blog helpful? Let us know in the comments below. I will be more than happy to help you with the problems that you have faced while launching your Eddystone campaign.
If you are planning an Eddystone beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to kickstart your campaign in under 15 minutes. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!