Beacons — and the Data They Provide — Help Merge the Digital and Physical Worlds
Wouldn't it be great if we could all create marketing that is so fantastic, it becomes inextricable from the brand experience? What if those experiences were seamless between your audience's blended physical and digital worlds? It's what marketing coach Jay Baer calls "utility." When marketing is helpful and has relevant utility for the recipient, then it does achieve status as a "service." We know it as marketing, but the recipient finds such value in it that it is viewed as service.
Similarly, because mobile is such a powerful part of the way people experience brands today, marketers are looking for ways to understand what people need "in the moment," and provide it as a branded service.
What exactly do people want to hear from brands on their mobile phones that could be of such utility? In the past, advertisers had to make assumptions about messaging and were forced to send them without the input of the consumer.
Enter the beacon. It's a powerful arrow in the marketing quiver, and can be exceptionally powerful in understanding and engaging people in that precious "moment of truth" when buying decisions are made.
Beacons are small indoor positioning devices that use low-energy Bluetooth (BLE) to communicate with a shopper's smartphone, usually when they are on location or in a store. The hope is that the information sent - a text, an email, an app alert - will improve the in-store shopping experience and drive new sales. When placed in a store, beacons can detect nearby smartphones and send them media such as ads, coupons or customized supplementary product information. This brief video from ShopKick illustrates how it works through a trial it did with Macy's in New York and San Francisco.
Not just for shoppers, beacons can also be used as point-of-sale systems and collect large amounts of data that can then be used to improve both real-time and right-time marketing, in-store and online.