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1.Retail's 'beacon' of hope: Shopping that's personal

You walk into your local grocery store and your phone buzzes, but this time it's not a text message, it's a welcome message from the store, delivered through an app you downloaded months ago and likely haven't used since. Whether it's a simple welcome message, a coupon or a promotion, retailers are increasingly trying to engage customers by communicating with them via their downloaded apps, their location and even their digital shopping lists. These messages are delivered via a $5 hardware device called a beacon, which uses Bluetooth low energy to seek out specific, integrated apps and send relevant messages to shoppers' smartphones as they pass by, all with the goal of driving traffic and sales. Targeted marketing using geolocation isn't brand new, but what makes beacon technology special is the ability to "wake up" an app a consumer has downloaded, but that isn't open on the device. Continue reading

Why Beacons are the Future of Customer Engagement [Infographic]

With more and more shoppers using their smartphones in-store to compare prices and get the best deals, retailers are turning to beacons to create an in-store experience that delights customers. According to Business Insider, half of the top 100 U.S retailers are testing beacons this year and there will be 30,000 active beacons in the U.S by the end of 2014. So why are beacons gaining so much prominence? Beacons help retailers reach customers based on contextually relevant information like their location, purchase history, dwell time etc. While a lot of leading retailers have already deployed beacons in their stores, most are yet to Read more at Continue reading

Beacons and Chat: 2 Technologies Giving Marketers Fresh New Ways to Engage

As marketers, it goes without saying that we strive to stay ahead of the trends and utilize the newest technologies so that we can stay relevant and engaging to our customers. In my role as Director of Business Development at Marketo, I see a wide range of partners offering new and innovative ways that marketers can engage. With that being said, there are two newer technologies that are giving marketers fresh avenues to engage their customers literally everywhere they are: location marketing solutions and chat/instant messenger marketing applications. Continue reading

BLE vs. NFC: The future of mobile consumer engagement now [infographic]

One thing I notice in the fast-moving mobile payment space is the constant struggle for accuracy. In this case, I don't exclusively refer to location-based accuracy (though we will get to that momentarily) as much as the struggle over the literal meaning of words. Case in point: iBeacon. When word began spreading about Apple's iBeacon last fall, many observers proclaimed the technology would supplant Near Field Communications as a mobile payment medium. But that's apples-and-oranges. The iBeacon (and PayPal's Beacon, which rolled out about the same time) are not, of themselves, a technology. They are but an extension of Bluetooth Low Energy, which has been around for almost a decade. BLE and NFC each have several use cases, but they're not the same sort of use cases. Think of it this way: Cellular communications provide wireless coverage with a footprint measured in miles; WiFi's footprint is measured in yards; BLE's is measured in feet; and NFC's in centimeters. As this infographic illustrates, a BLE beacon is great for passively enabling a retailer's mobile app to deliver promotions, coupons or offers direct to the consumer's smartphone when the consumer is in the general vicinity. NFC can't do that. But if you want to research a specific Nikon SLR, for example, you can scan an NFC-enabled shelf tag next to it and study to your heart's content. BLE can't deliver that much location granularity. Continue reading

5. MCG rates success of beacon trials for customer engagement

Beacon technology could be embedded into the Melbourne Cricket Ground’s new high-density Wi-Fi network following a couple of successful customer engagement trials last year.

The MCG conducted two beacons trials in the second half of 2014 during sporting events aimed at enhancing the onsite experience for fans.

The first ran in September during Australian Football League (AFL) games at the stadium and gave fans the opportunity to win one of 50 Four ‘N Twenty pies if they downloaded a pass to their Android or iPhone smartphone. Staff were equipped with beacons that triggered location-specific messages via Bluetooth to patrons’ smartphones as they move around the stadium during each match. Patrons who spotted the pie touts and presented their notification message could receive a free pie. Communications manager at the MCG, Shane Brown, told CMO the stadium was pleased with the results of the trial. Continue reading

6. Placing beacons within digital marketing strategy: Part 3 Customer experience: The wild card of Beacon implementations

This is part 3 of a three part series assessing key considerations for marketers developing beacon strategies. See part 1 here and part 2 here.

By connecting small, inconspicuous Bluetooth wireless transmitters on walls, shelves, doorways, and at check-out, retailers of all types can transform stores into platforms for tracking consumer behaviors and/or delivering relevant content and offers. Often, though, beacons go undetected, rendering the experience for the consumer seemingly unchanged, as it always was, plus a few more phone notifications… Continue reading

7. 3 ways technology is driving personalized in-store shopping

With the technology and data available, it’s no surprise to see the online shopping experience make a dramatic shift toward personalization. Retailers use various identifiers, ranging from user accounts to browser cookies to customize a shopping experience based around their customers’ individual needs and desires. With so much data acquired through digital channels, retailers are able to map out customer journeys, make relevant product recommendations and offer highly specific promotional content.
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How Beacons Are Changing the Shopping Experience

Beacons are taking the world of mobile by storm. They are low-powered radio transmitters that can send signals to smartphones that enter their immediate vicinity, via Bluetooth Low Energy technology. In the months and years to come, we’ll see beaconing applied in all kinds of valuable ways.

For marketers in particular, beacons are important because they allow more precise targeting of customers in a locale. A customer approaching a jewelry counter in a department store, for example, can receive a message from a battery-powered beacon installed there, offering information or a promotion that relates specifically to merchandise displayed there. In a different department of the same store, another beacon transmits a different message. Before beacons, marketers could use geofencing technology, so that a message, advertisement, or coupon could be sent to consumers when they were within a certain range of a geofenced area, such as within a one-block radius of a store. However, that technology typically relies on GPS tracking, which only works well outside the store. With beaconing, marketers can lead and direct customers to specific areas and products within a store or mall. Continue reading

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