Author: Anil Gupta, Chief Evangelist, Multidots
Building an emotional connection with customers has become a pre-requisite for brands today. The ones which only aim to make a sale, sooner or later, vanish in the air like smoke.
Your brand has to deliver experience that tugs at customers’ heartstrings. It is because, deep down, all of us make decisions based on emotions.
A Forrester Research states that 89% of the customers actually fail to establish a personal connection with a brand they buy. Brands, therefore, today need to work on delivering more personal, emotional experiences. Otherwise, it’s easier for competitors to pull customers towards them.
The Experience Economy, a book by Pile and Gilmore rightly states that brands need to strive for engagements at a personal level in order to thrive. The modern customer wants and expects a brand to deliver personal, engaging and memorable experience.
A brand, therefore, should continuously seek to evolve its marketing to survive in this tech-dominated era. Fortunately, with technological innovations happening at break-neck speed, brands can look up to a technology to market better.
In recent times, the brouhaha over technologies like Beacons and Near Field Communications (NFC) has only increased. These technologies are disrupting marketing and helping brands deliver a better experience to customers. With significant difference between the two, it is the beacon, which has garnered more interest.
While beacons relies on BLE (Bluetooth low energy) to function up to a distance of 50 meters, the Near Field Communication uses radio waves for communication between two devices within a range of 10 cms or less. To know more about how they function differently, head over to this infographic.
Beacons – An Inside Look
Beacons are hardware devices that use Bluetooth Low Energy to transmit messages to smart phones and tablets. iBeacon, on the other hand, is Apple’s Technology Standard that allows Mobile Apps to interact with Beacons in their vicinity.
Depending on the location and placement, beacons have a maximum range of 70 meters. To understand the physics behind beacons, head on to the Estimote Blog.
The introduction of iOS7 was the starting point for beacons. These are compatible with both iOS and Android devices. This essentially boils down to the fact that 570 million devices are compatible with the beacon functionality.
Consider this example.
Let’s say you own a retail outlet. To spur customer engagement you have placed beacons inside your store. Plus, you also have your very own branded mobile app.
Now, when customers step inside your store, you can send personalized marketing messages to each one of them. How does this work out?
For instance, you have discounts running in the ‘apparels’ section. As soon as a customer nears that section, the beacons trigger an automatic message. If your customer has the outlet’s mobile app installed and Bluetooth on, he/she will be shown a message regarding the discount.
Furthermore, you can also help customers locate specific items within your outlet. If customers are stranded inside the store, beacons can deliver a message explaining the entire layout of your store. This is especially useful for big departmental stores wherein customers have no clue about specific store locations.
A BI Intelligence Report on Beacons states that in US more than half of the top 100 retailers are experimenting with beacons. This is expected to rise considerably in the coming years.
How Beacon Technology is helping brands?
Beverage behemoths like Coke to Super Market giants like Macy’s are utilizing beacons to deliver super awesome customer experiences. Here’s how beacons are revolutionizing brand marketing & promotions.
1. In-store Notifications – According to Swirl, a Marketing Technology Company, beacons offer immense marketing opportunity. They found that 85% of smart phone users have used a shopping app when inside a store and 77% of these do not mind sharing their location in return for value.
Beacons are allowing brands to send push notifications for sales and promotion offers as soon as customers step in the range of beacons. 72% of smart phones users actually make a purchase after receiving relevant promotion.
Hillshire Brands (distributor of meat products) implemented an iBeacons based marketing campaign which involved sending push notifications when customers were inside the store. The average customers’ purchase intent increased by 20%.
2. Understanding Shopping Behaviour – Brands need to know how customers behave once they are inside the store to be able to improve their experience. By integrating beacons with CRM systems, brands have access to massive amounts of data that allow them to know:
- How many people visited the store
- How many utilized the app, saw offers and made purchases
- Store sections where they are spending more time
- Frequency of customer visits, in-store behaviour
- How many transactions occurred per customer
- How many people signed-up and utilized loyalty programs
- Know about their service quality, abandonment rates etc.
- Effectiveness of marketing campaigns
Macy’s deployed beacons across 800+ stores throughout US to track customer movements in order to send more personalized offers and promotional messages.
3. More Personalization – When you know how your customers behave, you can send in more context-driven, highly personalized messages. You can guide customers to a specific section in your store, inform them about new product arrivals based on their preference, send custom welcome messages when they step in the store, recommend products based on their purchase history and do much more.
4. Competitive Edge – When you implement beacons for your brand marketing in the right way, there’s little doubt that it offers you competitive advantage. By delivering value-added content, beacons are helping brands combat stiff competition.
5. Efficient Customer Service – Beacons are being used to help customers understand store layouts. Shopping malls can be highly confusing when you don’t know where to start. By strategically placing beacons across the mall, brands are helping customers with directions. Besides, when inside the store, beacons also allow tracking staff efficiency. This helps them, know how long their staff interacts with customers and whether employees require any customer service training. This definitely is important for tracking sales conversions.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts ran a Beacon trial in 30 of its resorts and hotels to enhance guest experience. This meant that guests could skip the check-in process and open their rooms without using keys.
Brands (across industries) like Tesco and Virgin Atlantic have reaped immense benefits from beacons. Statistics too prove that. Ad Platform, InMarket, conducted a study on the use of beacons in retail stores, which states, there is 19x increase in interaction with advertised product and a 16.5x increase in in-store app usage.
Beacon Technology, specifically iBeacon, is poised to become ‘The Next Big Thing’ when it comes to proximity based marketing. Brands which are the early adopters of this technology will continue to see enormous gains in terms of improved customer loyalty, engagement and satisfaction, while those who choose to ignore will do so at their own peril.
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