2 Google Nearby alternatives for proximity marketing resellers
Sneh Ratna Choudhary
Last Updated:  January 21, 2019
Google’s announcement to shut down its Nearby service has come as a shock to many. For proximity marketing solution providers who had invested in this because it required no app to be downloaded, this is indeed a major setback.
Proximity marketing has always been and continues to strive to be relevant to the end-user. Spinning signs and handing out flyers for businesses nearby is still a popular way of marketing, but with the rise of smartphones, marketers found a direct path to the consumer. Apple’s iBeacon protocol was definitely the start but it was Google’s Eddystone protocol that finally made marketers and businesses sit up and take notice. Google’s decision to shut down the Nearby service may seem like a major hurdle but it is the right decision. The consumer, for whom beacon marketing was supposed to be relevant and more useful than other forms of marketing, was essentially forgotten.
There is no doubt that the proximity marketing market for beacons will change but it will change for the better.
Let’s talk about the specific changes now that Google Nearby is dead:
#1 Nearby service will no longer work but the Eddystone protocol and Physical Web will
Nearby will stop delivering Eddystone and pHysical Web notifications to Android users but the Eddystone protocol and Physical Web will remain available to developers to build apps. We’ve already created and launched our app NearBee for both Android and iOS but more on that later.
#2 Beacons will not be able to send notifications without an app
With Nearby being shut down, proximity marketing without an app will no longer be possible. And, yes it is a hassle but if the goal of proximity marketing is to generate more business then unsolicited spam through Nearby was not helping anyone’s business.
#3 Proximity marketing through beacons is not dead
The idea of Nearby was excellent but the implementation was far from perfect. We have to realize that Nearby being shut down will ultimately benefit both the customer and businesses that were trying to use it.
Now that Nearby is about to be discontinued, you can either create your own app using Eddystone protocol or integrate our NearBee SDK to your existing app or simply use NearBee.
The question “Why would consumers download an app like NearBee?” has come up a lot. The answer is quite simple. Consumers like discounts. That is the precise reason Groupon, a daily deals site, has 49.3 million unique customers in 2018. Proximity marketing is not even limited to just offering deals and discounts. Customers look forward to personalized recommendations and targeted advertising. Businesses can design unique beacon experiences, install talking mannequins, design a scavenger hunt, offer cashier-less experiences like Amazon Go and use customer feedback to drive inventory. The possibilities are endless.
A consumer who was fed up with all the spam on Nearby and turned it off probably missed out on a lot of these offerings but with an app that they choose to download, these experiences will be commonplace.
Nearby vs. NearBee: Is NearBee a better alternative to Google Nearby?
Something that a lot of marketers ignored is the fact Nearby Notifications were not able to guarantee them a high CTR. Possible reasons for this include the fact that the notifications did not alert the user, and were often irrelevant or spammy. NearBee was initially released on iOS and has seen a CTR of 10% at the very least.
Google Nearby Alternative #1: Create your own app and integrate the NearBee SDK
Who is this good for? If your clients include medium to large businesses who want to invest in an app.
For medium to large businesses, it is extremely beneficial to have an app because they can collect information about a particular customer’s visits and purchase history which can be used to make the campaigns extremely personalized and targeted. Without an app, every customer is treated as a first-time visitor and leaves no scope for loyalty programs. The NearBee SDK is a single line of code that when inserted into the app will enable it to scan for BLE beacons. This works if you have an existing app as well.
Google Nearby Alternative #2: Leverage NearBee for an entire area
Who is this good for? If your clients mainly include small businesses or you happen to be a reseller serving a specific geographical region.
Small businesses do not want to invest in an app. In this case, it would be wise to promote NearBee so as to benefit all the small businesses in the area. Customers can be encouraged to download the app at the checkout counter to get extra discounts, by scanning a QR code or incentivizing the download in several other ways. We will go into more detail about these options in our next blog. The idea here is to remember that the entire shopping experience can be memorable for a customer and limiting beacon use-cases to just discounts or deals would be unwise.
Here’s how a user will interact with NearBee
Watch our Webinar to understand how to run proximity marketing campaigns in 2019 through beacons
NearBee is scheduled for a future update which will let it serve as an app within an app. The in-app colors, logos and content will morph to represent the particular business’s unique branding. This will help you have your own app without investing in one. Also, customers will be able to ‘follow’ businesses and receive timed and controlled updates from them even when they are not in the range of a beacon. This is in addition to the non-generic, rich and visually appealing and non-passive notifications that NearBee delivers.
Let us know what you would like to see in the future updates of NearBee. Start using Beaconstac and NearBee to accelerate your proximity marketing campaigns today.
Sneh is a Content Marketing Manager at Beaconstac. When she’s not obsessing over customized QR Codes, she can be found fawning over dogs or bingeing on Netflix. To discuss content marketing or anything else under the sun, reach out to her on Twitter or LinkedIn.