If you’re reading this, most likely you already know about beacons (if not, Business Insider has this quick explanation about beacons and what they can do). Beacons are no longer just a cool and interesting new marketing and store-digitalization gadget; they’re the next marketing tsunami.
Think I’m exaggerating?
I’m not. Check out the beacon adoption growth forecast in a Business Insider report that predicts 4.5 million active beacons in the US alone by the end of 2018 and says beacons are “the most important retail technology since the mobile credit card reader.”
Beacons’ Obvious Uses
Starting to think you should consider deploying it in your marketing strategies, like more than half of the top 100 retailers in the US?
Probably a good idea if you want to stay ahead of the curve.
Most marketers thinking about beacons focus on real-time messaging, and most articles about beacons focus on real-time push and in-app messaging. Those are certainly very interesting. You can send hyper-targeted messages to people’s smartphones when they walk by a beacon. That’s probably the most precisely tailored marketing ever, and I’ll cover multiple use-cases, benefits, and best practices in a future post. For now however, I want to concentrate on two less-obvious ways to leverage beacons.
First Less-Obvious Way to Leverage Beacons—Understand Your Customers’ Needs
My colleague, Carl Sandquist, discusses in a post how to measure beacon effectiveness. At the highest level, your beacons help you understand in real time what happens near their locations (most likely in different places within your store). For example, you can see:
- How many customers walked by each beacon (and with one near each store entrance, you can see in real time how many customers entered your shop)
- Where your customers went to in the store
- How long they spent in each area
- How many times they left and returned
- How many offers were sent to customers by each beacon
- How many offers (and which ones) were opened
- How many offers (and which ones) were redeemed
Think of this as measuring what happens at your points of sale in the same way you’re already measuring the online behavior of visitors on your website.
Why is this useful?
For a whole range of reasons:
- Detect anomalies, e.g. people wandering around (they may need help finding something)
- Measure the impacts of changing shop visitors’ journeys (e.g., by changing locations of specific stands, types of items on endcaps, etc.)
- Forecast future visits by these or other customers
- Test the impact of changing offers on visits
If you still think this is just a gadget, ask yourself how many technologies you’ve seen with projected five-year compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 289 percent (the Business Insider estimate for beacons). If you don’t have a calculator handy, that means more than 200-fold growth in five years!
Second Less-Obvious Way to Leverage Beacons—the Message Targeting Opportunity
Sure, you can use beacons to send hyper-targeted offers on the spot. However, you can also use beacon data to improve targeting of marketing messages you regularly send to customers via email, SMS, direct mail, or other channels, to lead specific remarketing campaigns. Here are some nifty things you can do:
- Send different offers to people who visited one of your Washington stores last week.
- Exclude from your “visit our shop today” SMS campaign people who visited your shop yesterday.
- Send a women’s shoe offer for contacts that spent over 2 minutes near the “women’s shoes” beacon in your Fifth Avenue shop.
- Automatically send emails with an especially attractive offer to frequent visitors (people you normally detect at least once a week in your shops) if they stopped visiting.
Beacons are not a fad or small wave; they’re a tsunami. They offer the most precise way to measure what your customers are interested in. Moreover, they’re not just a way to send hyper-reactive messages, they’re a way to break the siloing between your online and offline marketing:
- For never-seen-before behavior analysis.
- For hyper-relevant messages based on a mix of online and offline customer knowledge.
If you’ve already deployed beacons, how do you plan to leverage them in your marketing?