Use beacons to drive customers to and around your location
Beacons, also known as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons and iBeacons, are tiny devices that can be used to accurately detect where an app user is. There is a description on the technology itself at the bottom of this page and you can also read our 10 Minute guide to iBeacons.
Shops, supermarkets and department stores; bars, cafes, restaurants and other leisure venues; art galleries and museums and a wide variety of other locations use them to create enhanced visitor experiences.
This can range from offering incentives to come in store, acknowledging a reward has been earned for visiting or simply for displaying content like a video or augmented reality experience when a visitor is in a precise location.
Beacons are super accurate
Beacons are increasingly being used in favour of Wi-fi and even NFC (near field communications). This is because unlike Wi-fi they offer very accurate levels of user proximity and unlike NFC they don’t require the user the literally ‘tap-in’ to work.
But the biggest benefit of using beacons is that they are able to offer greater accuracy than any other location-based technology. This means you can target communications right down to shelf or clothes rail level. And they are also able to reach users who are up to 50m away.
This means you can detect a user is passing by your venue, send them a message and then take them to the exact location in your store.
Or if you are an art gallery or museum, you can create engaging, interactive tours that release content only when the user in in close proximity to an object.
An example of beacons in action
You could be a leisure park operator who wants to solve two problems – your visitors want to spend less time queuing and you want to sell more Fast Passes to reduce those queue times and increase revenues.
Airspace’s proximity marketing technology can be added to the app so that when a visitor is in a long queue you can send them the following message: “The waiting time for this ride is currently 84 minutes. Would you like to purchase a Fast Pass for £5?”
With one tap your visitor can be purchasing the pass and you can benefit from an incremental sale.
How the technology works
Beacons don’t do much at all except emit a tiny, low energy signal that can be detected up to 50m away. This signal contains a unique identification number. That’s all. Beacons don’t hold user data or even distribute content. They simply emit an identifying signal. The clever bit is when that signal is picked up by a passing smartphone and that smartphone has an app that has been told to look out for that particular beacon’s ID.
BTW, to avoid the confusion between beacons and iBeacons, they are the same thing, but Apple have designed a ‘standard’ called iBeacon, that manufacturers can use to make sure their beacons are optimised for use with Apple’s iOS operating system (which iPhone and iPads use). Android have the same with the Eddystone Beacon.
How does the beacon know where you are? It doesn’t. But the app that you have downloaded to use in that store has been told exactly where the beacon is located, using a content platform like Airspace’s location management system, Control Room. The app knows that beacon ID number ‘123abc’ is located in the women’s jeans department, and the smartphone is telling the app that the beacon 123abc is 2.5m away. You, the marketer, now know exactly where the user is in your store and you can send them a message relevant to their precise location, down to under a metre.
Simple technology, exciting benefits
Beacons provide a very simple function – they help us detect exactly where a user is. Armed with this information we can create highly relevant messages that increase engagement, increase loyalty and enable locations to maximise their investment in mobile and proximity based messaging.
Our proximity marketing specialists can help you create a campaign, from conception to final delivery. Contact them about how you can best utilise the technology.
* Many beacons vendors claim up to 70m but our testing, with multiple different types of beacons, demonstrates that 50m is a more realistic maximum limit.