Proximity Marketing Coming Soon To Store Near You

In the spirit of #ThrowbackThursday, let’s take a moment to enjoy Roberta Flack’s “The Closer I Get To You.” It’s a very hummable tune, even if you’re not much of a singer. And her words are incredibly pertinent for the retail marketer today. “The closer I get to you, the more you make me see” lends itself to our world of retail stores, with close range beacons beaming content to consumers as they shop.

You may think I’m mixing throwback with futurism, but this technology is already here. According to Business Insider Intelligence, “by the end of this year, there will be 30,000 active beacons in the U.S., with most (80%) of them in retail stores.”  Beacons are being tested by half of the top 100 retailers in the U.S., and a third of them expect to have them deployed in stores by the end of next year.

Yes, retailers want you to get closer – within about 160 feet -- and they’ll be ready to see consumers more clearly than ever based on beacon geo-tracking. Retailers now have the opportunity to drive immediate consumer response and action in-store and across channels.



With all this cozy togetherness, the requirement for contextual, hyper-relevant messaging is hyper-critical. This could be likened to email messaging on steroids: a rapid-response relay, with data driving the experience. Is your mind reeling at the possibilities yet?

So what exactly does this mean for email marketers? Here are a few ways the new beacon technology can integrate with your email marketing initiatives to drive more relevant customer interactions:

  • Data drives experience – Bits and bytes of data are what fuel marketing automation, be it emails, SMS or beacon messaging.. Retailers can gather a massive amount of behavioral data on consumers while in-store and translate it into action across email and other channels. For example, if you know an individual visits a specific department and browses, but doesn’t purchase, that data may be used for product recommendations in a follow-up email. Or, if an inactive email subscriber visits a store, use that visit as an opportunity to reengage her with special offers and incentives, and follow up with an email “welcome back” strategy to keep her engaged.
  • Context is critical – Beacons enable communications that interrupt busy consumers in-store, so must deliver real-time, relevant value. If not, consumers will want to disable messaging -- or, even worse, they may have a bad in-store experience that influences future shopping behavior in a negative way.. Email customers after a visit to ask about the beacon-enabled communications they received to understand what impact the messaging is making.
  • Test and optimize – Lastly, it’s a new frontier with beacons, so testing and optimizing on an ongoing basis is the only way to understand how in-store beacon communication drives action and conversion, and how it integrates with other channels.

Are you testing beacons this year? We would love to hear more about the consumer experiences you are creating and how email plays a role.
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