As a retailer, you know how hard it can be to find and keep motivated and engaged staff members. And when you do, here is what consumers have to say about it:
“I hate going into the stores and being smothered by the workers asking if I need help, staying too close by to me and watching me. I was at a store in the mall once, looking around for clothes to see if I liked anything, not to look for anything in specific and a worker came up to me and asked me if I needed any help finding anything (which is fine I don't mind because I understand its part of their job) but this worker kept on insisting. I like to keep to myself and not feel pressured into buying anything because a worker is right there.”
So there’s obviously a problem here. You want to give your customers the best in-store customer service, but there’s a disconnect about how that should look like.
The 2022 Global Shopping Index revealed that 34% of customers use their phones to check prices and product data while in the store. Smartphones are setting the table for beacon marketing and providing an opportunity to interact with and appeal to customers on their terms.
In this article, we’ll look at how beacon marketing can effectively bridge the gap between personalized customer experiences while respecting customers’ need for autonomy.
What is Beacon Marketing
Ideally, a delightful shopping experience for consumers looks like easily locating what they want within the store’s layout, learning more about it, making payments, and then leaving without any delay or friction.
Beacon technology has made this possible through the use of small, wireless devices called beacons. They use Bluetooth Low Energy(BLE) technology to transmit signals to nearby smartphones or tablets.
They can be installed on a wall, a countertop, or the ceiling of your retail store so that when a consumer is within range, their device will detect the signal coming from the beacon. The retailer's app, installed on the consumer's device, can then send relevant push notifications based on the customer's location in the store.
Store owners use proximity beacons on sidewalks to urge customers in, during check-in at the door to trigger rewards for coming into the store, providing product information, and then offering a pre-approved digital payment method for easy checkout.
Simply put, beacon marketing is the use of beacon technology to deliver targeted marketing messages, offers, and personalized experiences to customers based on their proximity to beacons.
Proximity Marketing Unleashed
When marketers talk about personalization, data is usually at the heart of it. But have you ever wondered what kind of data beacons can collect?
During an interview with MarTech 360, Jeanne Hopkins, Chief Revenue Officer at OneScreen.ai explained that:
“Thinking holistically about the customer and their ability to make a decision is not the number of messages they receive but about your company/product/service’s ability to meet a need.”
That’s where contextual messaging comes in. Instead of bombarding customers with generic messages, beacons provide you with:
- User profile data: Demographic information, preferences, and interests
- Behavioral data: Time spent, frequency of visits, and paths taken
- When integrated into Point of Sale systems, you get user purchase data
- Social media data such as: brand affinities, social network influence, and interactions.
So when a consumer walks in, the beacon tracks their movement, noting a considerable time spent on leather goods and accessories, the system can use this behavioral data to adjust its recommendations to complementary items such as wallets, belts, or sunglasses that match their style preferences.
Crafting Hyper-Targeted Offers
Sephora is one of the major players embracing beacon technology. The Sephora app enables customers to create wish lists of products they’re interested in. The beacons in the store can then integrate with the wish lists to send related notifications or offers when the customer is in proximity to them.
According to a report by InMarket, beacon-triggered messages can increase in-store app usage by 16.5 times and drive an average increase in purchase intent of 73%.
When used in unison with advertising screens, beacons can trigger specific actions on the display when the user with a smartphone comes within range. These actions can include displaying target advertisements, personalized messages, or promotional offers.
Enhancing Customer Engagement
Gamification has become one of the most effective ways businesses are using to drive customer engagement. Macy's used beacon-powered mobile games during the Thanksgiving season to engage holiday shoppers. Customers received push notifications triggered by beacons that encouraged them to participate in a game with a chance to win prizes.
See how that can also tie in with your loyalty program? 40% of consumers indicate that providing coupons/discounts is a key feature for businesses to offer on their mobile app/website. Digital signage for retail can persuade customers to engage with gamified experiences within the store by displaying customized QR codes that link directly to loyalty program rewards and incentives.
You can also integrate beacons with social media for customers to share their experiences. For example, customers can receive prompts to check in or share photos on social media when they are near specific products or store sections. It can help generate user-generated content and increase your brand’s visibility.
Transforming In-Store Experiences
A survey by International Data Corporation found that omnichannel buyers typically achieve 30% higher lifetime value than single-channel buyers.
Consumers expect instant solutions to their needs, and even though you’ll benefit them with targeted offers, they also feel the need to validate these offers, which is where an omnichannel marketing approach comes in handy.
Nordstrom uses beacons to bridge the gap between online shopping and the in-store experience. Their app notifies customers if an item in their mobile shopping bag is in stock as they pass a store with beacons installed. They also provide online options to in-store shoppers and make personalized suggestions based on customer interests.
Beacons can also make navigation in the store way easier by providing real-time location-based guidance. Target uses beacon technology to create a “GPS for your shopping cart” experience. Customers can make shopping lists using the Target app and see whether they’re getting closer or farther away from the desired item since their location is updated in real-time based on their movements.
Opportunities For Beacon Advertising
Integration with the Internet of Things (IoT): Beacons can integrate with other IoT devices to create a connected ecosystem. For example, beacons can communicate with smart home devices to provide personalized recommendations or automate tasks based on a customer's location.
Integration with Artificial Intelligence (AI): Beacons can integrate with AI technologies to provide more intelligent and automated marketing solutions. AI algorithms can analyze customer behavior patterns and preferences to deliver personalized recommendations and offers in real-time.
Photovoltaic beacons: Photovoltaic beacons are similar to solar panels in that they can generate electricity from artificial light. It makes them indispensable in buildings with constant artificial lighting since they do not require frequent maintenance or battery replacements.
Ensuring Privacy and Consent
Privacy and consent are important considerations when implementing beacon technology. Users should have the choice to actively give their consent to receive these communications rather than being automatically enrolled without their knowledge or consent.
It is essential to provide clear and transparent information to users about the types of notifications and marketing material they will receive, how you’ll use their data, and who will have access to it. This information should be easily accessible and understandable to users. They should also be able to opt out whenever they want.
Beacon Marketing in Action
The best way to implement beacon marketing is to use the technologies you already have in your facility in conjunction with the beacons. So, if you already have a network of screens, here is a step-by-step guide on how to implement beacon campaigns with the help of your digital signage:
- Choose beacons that are compatible with your digital signage system and consider battery life and range.
- Install the beacons strategically to ensure proper coverage and minimize signal interference.
- Set up the beacons according to your specific requirements. It typically involves configuring parameters such as transmission power, advertising interval, and unique identifiers (UUID, major, minor) that will help identify and differentiate the beacons.
- Integrate beacons with your digital signage system either through an application programming interface (API) or software development kit (SDK) provided by the beacon manufacturer or a third-party platform.
- Create the content and interactions triggered by the beacons, ie visually appealing graphics, videos, or interactive elements. You don’t need to go any further than Look CMS for your content creation needs. You get access to dozens of customizable templates depending on your industry and only need to edit and upload them. There is also a fantastic myriad of apps, including YouTube for your video content and social media platforms. Once the beacon nudges customers to log into Instagram, for instance, they can share photos or live streams near specific products and share their experiences with them, which will also appear on the nearest screen. How's that for UGC!
- Test the beacon integration with the digital signage system to ensure proper functionality and user experience.
The Road Ahead for Beacon Marketing
Using beacon marketing to enhance the in-store experience creates a win-win situation. Customers get instantaneous and highly personalized recommendations and offers directly to their phones and business owners get valuable insights into their customers' behavior and preferences which they can use to appeal to them most effectively.
With help from Look Digital Signage Software, you can boost engagement and increase conversion rates by capturing customers' attention and driving them towards desired actions. Find out how it can complement your customer service strategy by starting a free 14-day trial today.