Commentary

The Messaging vs. the Beacons at SXSW Panel

There are beacons and then there are beaconed messages.

During the MediaPost OMMA at SXSW conference, it became clear that at least some companies are more focused on the customer messaging experience rather than how those messages get there.

One of the key points is that the message timing and context is more important than getting the message there though a beacon trigger.

At Lowe’s, for example, the idea is to interact with customers no matter how they access the company and to keep track and integrate all that messaging.

“Whether that’s mobile, going into a store or calling a contact center, that should be a very seamless transition,” said Sean Bartlett, director of digital experience, product and omni-channel at Lowe’s.

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“It’s less about the screen technologies, whether it’s beacons or something else; it’s about how you solve those customer pain points,” Bartlett said during a panel discussion on beacons.

“As you think about navigating all these different channels, it’s about the customer never having to start over again,” he said. “The technology is not what’s necessarily at the heart of it, it’s the customer problem.”

Another point around technology that allows more precisely targeted messaging was giving a lot of thought around the reasons well before deciding how they will be delivered.

“You really have to understand, what’s the business problem you’re trying to solve by using some of these technologies,” said Daniel Gutwein, director of retail analytics at Intel.

As more companies capture more customer data, thanks to evolving mobile tracking technologies, the issue of who controls the data and how it is used is moving to the forefront.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) evolves, data technically can be shared between and among more devices that surround consumers, some of whom will want the technology to anticipate their needs and others who won’t.

In the case of Alex and Ani, data collection is key along with providing the stores’ customers full knowledge of what data is being collected, according to Ryan Bonifacino, senior vice president, digital at Alex and Ani, who also spoke on the panel.

“Customer data is the most important thing to us but the customer’s preference is a lot more important than just having the data,” said Bonifacino. “We want to tell the customer about every bit of data we can collect and we want to let them opt out of any tracking process.”

The discussions around beacons are finally moving to the content, context and value of the messaging to the customer.

And that is very good news for beaconing.

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