A lively debate is currently taking place about the future of beacons, the little Bluetooth transmitters. Will beacons be around for the long-term in Germany or are they simply a fad? Our COO Mischa Rürup summarises the learning effects of the first beacon installations so that you can make sure that your future beacon campaigns will be successful.
In order for your beacons case to be successful it is important to optimise both your beacons technology and strategy which are supposed to be synchronised as much as possible.
- Check the strength of the mobile signal at the location: If the mobile signal is not strong enough for most shop visitors then it is better to offer a free WiFi service in your shops. This ensures your beacons have the highest degree of usability and that your app can be downloaded there and then.
- Calibrate beacons individually: Initial pilot projects have shown that barriers and materials such as steel, coated glass, concrete and even the throngs of shop visitors can change the beacons’ signal ranges. Individual calibration of the devices ensures against overlap and excessively strong signalling.
- Adjust the position of the beacons at the POS according to conditions and the beacon strategy: If, for example, you wish to target shop visitors who have left without making a purchase then beacons will need to be installed at the cash register and the exit.
- Data security: Ensure that only your company has access to the beacon data. This consists of two aspects. Firstly, a secure encryption of data and beacon ID and secondly, that you as a company have complete and total sovereignty over your own data. It is a fact that competitors can use your data for their own targeting with some beacons providers, as is also the case in Real Time Bidding.
- Plan your implementation of beacons thoroughly: If you have concluded the first installation then begin with a practice test kept within manageable limits. Anyone who promises their customers a discount and is then unable to do so due to faulty technology is just looking for trouble.
- Pay attention to the battery life: Clarify the shelf life your beacon partner can provide to ensure that unexpected malfunctions do not occur. Modern beacons have a battery life of up to two years.
- Comprehensiveness: Ensuring successful use of beacon technology requires that it is embedded in a comprehensive and customised marketing strategy and includes 360° Customer Journey Tracking. This makes techniques such as cross-retargeting possible i.e. the targeted offline communication with online users and vice versa.
- App marketing: Ensuring worthwhile use of your beacons requires that your app has sufficient range. A sensible series of measures for this should include SEO in the respective AppStore, programmatic advertising and performance marketing via AdWords, Facebook, Twitter (optimised according to CPI – cost per install). Depending on the features of your app you might wish to use viral marketing or classic PR.
- Added value: Apps and beacons are capable of much more than just selling – with product consultations or in-store navigation for your customers you will create added value which will result in them downloading your app. Vouchers and discounts also feature here but your app should not be seen merely as a voucher machine.
- Gain acceptance: Obtain the permission of users for push notifications during the app installation (ideally through incentives) – this subsequently increases acceptance and makes it clear that your app offers added value via the beacons.
- Awareness at the POS: Make shop visitors aware of the added value offered by your beacons (e.g. with stand-up displays or signs) whilst at the same time notifiying them that Bluetooth must be activated in order to receive signals.
- Increase app downloads: The user can be notified about your app directly at the POS on the lock-screen of his or her smartphone – either via beacons or geofencing, the latter of which functions even when the app is not installed. You can actually trigger additional downloads but should ensure that a free WiFi service is installed for this purpose.
- Less is more: Do not bombard users with push notifications otherwise they will switch the feature off very quickly. Users expect tangible added value from apps and beacons through personalised communication and interaction. You will reach an especially interested and highly relevant audience.
- Train your staff: New technology needs to be explained. Acceptance of beacons will only be achieved when your staff can explain what they are and where their added value lies. You should be in the position to dispel any concerns regarding data security and explain that nothing occurs without the express permission of the user.