Marketers at retail companies were the first to test beacons and implement in-store marketing, but now marketers in other industries, including fast-moving consumer goods, travel and hospitality and conference and event organizing, are starting to embrace the technology.
Beacons have a great deal of disruptive potential as they bridge the digital and physical worlds, but marketing leaders must resist the hype and think strategically and responsibly about how — and if — to implement beacon marketing programs.
By identifying consumers in shops, stadiums, airports or events through beacon transmitters, marketers have the ability to initiate conversations with consumers by sending real-time content, services and promotions. One of the most obvious benefits of beacon technology is to engage consumers via in-app interactions.
However, marketers tend to overhype opportunities and forget to put the customer at the center of their strategies. Despite the hype, reach today is limited and few players, such as Major League Baseball, are rolling out thousands of beacons nationwide.
Part of the problem with beacon technologies is that many marketers are confused about what they are. Some believe there is a lot of intelligence in the beacons themselves. The reality is that beacons are dumb pieces of hardware that simply communicate location information that can be interpreted by mobile applications. Marketers will be tempted to try to push advertising messages through beacons directly to smartphones, but intelligence and engagement will come from marketers’ ability to deliver deep and immediate value to customers by contextualizing their offerings in real time.
This will require more effort than most marketers are ready to deliver today.
To fully leverage the potential of the technology, marketers must contextualize and personalize the marketing experience. To take into account customers’ preferences, tastes, past purchases and motivations to ensure the relevance of their message, marketers should integrate the location data from their beacon programs into their campaign management, customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing systems.
The smartest use of beacon technology is more extensive than simple marketing promotion.
Moving forward, marketers will also be able to: