Are Search, Beacons The Next Solid Step In Cross-Channel Advertising?

Google has been working to bridge the gap between online advertising and in-store sales, so it may make sense for brands and retailers to consider the integration of beacons at physical locations and how they might integrate into search campaigns.

Location3 President Alex Porter chimed in with advice about the upsides and downsides of beacon technology, as well as what can be done to improve it.

Porter said marketers need to understand the retailer's or brand's customer before they enter the store. Marketers need to analyze the customer data to determine what consumers search for online and buy in the store and how much they spend. Taking the time to understand customers, Porter said, will improve the shopping experience.

"It’s key to drive customers into the store with an airtight strategy before implementing beacons," Porter said. "While beacons are the new and shiny object to hit the market, using it improperly can harm your business. Everyone is excited to discuss and use beacons, but the pre-store and to-the-store experience is more important. Coupling beacon tech with pre-store data is not only influential, it provides a higher payoff and ROI in the end."



Before implementing beacons, Porter said, it's important to understand the benefits to adding the technology. Smaller companies with one location make sense, and it is easier to track customer data and improve the customer experience. Larger businesses with multiple locations will find it harder to adapt to the tech because of all the data.

Marketers should think about geofencing, Porter said, and how it failed. Consumers were served ads on every platform -- which became annoying and invasive -- instead of improving their shopping experiences.

Companies need to first understand how beacons can work with their current strategies before they rush to implement them. "Too many companies are rushing to implement beacons without fully understanding their use and how it can enhance the customer experience," he said.

Porter said loyal customers will engage with the beacon once they enter the store. He points to Target as a "great" example of a company that has built a solid infrastructure behind the brand, by deploying the Target app. By collecting POS and sales data, Target is able to understand and gauge what customers search for and how it correlates with purchases in store. Beacons are then used to enhance the experience once the customer arrives in store.

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