The Ultimate Checklist for Planning Your First Beacon Deployment
April 26, 2016
Year 2016 saw a great start with some really exciting news from the proximity marketing industry. Screenvision, a movie theater management company installed beacons in about 300 theatres as a part of their initial beacon rollout, while Rite Aid, a popular pharmacy chain deployed beacons in more than 4500 stores across the U.S.
However, even today not many marketers are very clear about how to go about deploying beacons. In fact, this is one question that always turns up in most of our client conversations. Few questions that most marketers have when deploying beacons are:
a) How high should the beacons be mounted?
b) Some of the beacons tend to fall off after being mounted. What should I do to ensure that beacons stay intact at their positions?
c) There are a number of low-hanging fluorescent lights in the area that I plan to mount the beacons. Will this affect the beacon signal reception on a nearby mobile device?
d) What are the factors that I need to keep in mind while testing the app?
We’ve realized that while there are a number of media publications that talk about successful beacon deployments, what businesses really need is a simple guide that can help them keep track of the things that they need to keep a check on to ensure a smooth beacon deployment. Keeping this in mind, we have come up with this ultimate checklist that will help businesses with the same. Without much ado, let’s get started.
Looking at the beacon-based projects that we at MobStac have worked on, a perfect beacon pilot team should comprise of the following team members:
a) Someone who is responsible for assembling and configuring beacon hardware
b) Someone who is responsible for mounting beacons
c) A business analyst who understands customer needs and project objectives
d) A mobile developer
e) A web back-end developer
f) A project manager who will ensure that the team members are provided with all the information they need
2. Decide on the kind of beacon deployment that suits your campaign
This will help you gauge the number of beacons that you would need to buy and come up with a budget for your beacon deployment. For example, if you aim to engage with your customers at specific places or points (eg: send coupons to customers at the store entrance alone) then you should probably opt for point-based beacon deployment. On the other hand, if you aim to provide your customers with navigation or contextual alerts based on their exact location in the store, then you should probably opt for a grid-based beacon deployment.
3. Come up with a floor plan and select points of interest for beacon deployment
Next you need to survey the space/location once and create a floor plan. Few of the factors to be considered here include:
a) Take note of the material that the walls at the deployment space are made of. This is highly critical given that any partitions or walls made of concrete or metal are nearly opaque to Bluetooth.
b) Look out for objects such as sculptures, fountains etc., that lie in the range of a beacon, as they might block beacon signals, resulting in a bad proximity experience.
c) Have a good idea of how crowded the deployment space could get, as even huge crowds can end up blocking beacon signals from reaching the users’ smartphones.
d) Check for the height of the roof and the openness at the deployment space. In order to ensure accurate granularity in triggering beacons, we recommend you mount your beacons at least 3 meters above the ground or on the ceiling.
Once you’ve created your app or beacon-enabled your existing one, you need to test out all of the use cases that you want your app to perform. While, this does not require you to mount the beacons on the walls of the deployment space, you need to ensure that space you choose has no interference caused by other radio transmitters.
On the other hand, if you are employing the Eddystone-URL data packet of the Eddystone beacon to run your proximity marketing campaign, then you wouldn’t need an app at all in the first place. Any customer who has downloaded the Chrome browser app on his iOS or Android device will be able to interact with Eddystone beacons with ease.
5. Setup a beacon test venue
Next you need to setup a testing environment in a small part of a venue and ensure that it doesn’t get too crowded during operation hours. Few other things to keep in mind here include:
a) Don’t start testing beacon-triggered notifications with a high RSSI in one go. We recommend you start testing with the lowest RSSI, as it will help you accurately predict the beacon range based on obstructions.
b) Use a BLE scanner to pre-detect any overlaps.
c) Always use a wider range of RSSI values while testing, to account for the difference in the the fluctuation of values in each beacon.
d) Use a good adhesive tape to test a potential beacon location before putting a nail into the wall. In most cases, beacon locations need to be tested frequently to ensure signal consistency and theft prevention.
6. Reconfigure your beacons and fix the bugs
Next you need to check how your app and beacons work in the actual deployment space. Fine-tune your beacons’ settings such that they match the location’s requirements, and address any app related problems that crop up.
Follow these six steps to the dot and you will see yourself running a successful beacon deployment with ease. Let us know how it went.
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!