When beacon technology became available to consumers, I spent a week geo-fencing my house and tagging my dog, JayPeg, to track whether she was sneaking naps on the couch. This was a fun experiment and just one example of tracking real-world presence in the digital space that brands and their agencies can learn from.
Beacon technology’s current strength is its real-time analytics and tracking capability. Keeping this in mind:
- Pitching beacon use to a brand as a way to push mobile coupons is wasting money on the fun toys rather than providing utility for the targeted customer.
- Attempting to sell a beacon tactic that relies heavily on active customer participation (downloading a branded mobile app) just to send push notifications is a display of costly ignorance when it comes to user behaviors. It’s also a limited view of the technology’s capabilities.
- The more powerful application of beacons would be to passively track and collect information about your customers and then use that data to present something meaningful to them.
Tapping into publicly placed beacons to collect data about clearly defined target audiences can yield rich results for brands. You can see where they go, when and if they go alone or with friends; what types of items they look at or interact with, to name a few. This massive metadata collected from a multitude of passive actions allows brands to develop a deeper understanding of their consumers and can blow open the marketing doors to highly relevant consumer engagement.
Both Facebook and Google are huge backers of beacons (and enormous data collectors/aggregators). Imagine your brand connecting to both Facebook’s and Google’s future beacon-integrated platforms to target and deliver messages to their user bases, rather than building your own platform. You’ll engage with Facebook’s 500+ million users where they already are as they scroll through their newsfeed.
Brands should be thinking about how to use the data these platforms’ beacons are already collecting to develop a strategy that adds relevance to the conversations happening and facilitate the consumer’s real-time moments.
For example, a user who posts a selfie to Facebook while using your product at your location could then be served relevant content instantly through the platform. This could enable you to quickly connect with them on social or you could harness their network by pushing ads for similar products to their friends.
Another option is to push the (relevant) collected data back out to consumers. How about informing the consumer that you are having a 50% storewide sale for the next hour, and that the sweater she looked at online is in stock, in the right size? This goes beyond retail; the city of Los Angeles is using this concept by displaying real-time parking availabilities across the city. Both of these tactics take the simplest functionality that beacons offer and push them further.
In my geo-fenced home, I confirmed that my dog was sneaking onto the couch in the early afternoons. I bought a dog bed and positioned it by a window. Using data collected from the beacon and applying insights, I provided my dog with a customer experience to keep her off of the furniture while still enabling her to watch the mailman.
How can your brand apply beacon technology to provide custom products or experiences that your consumers may not even know they want and avoid sending those annoying, unwanted push notifications?
Original article appeared on MediaPost.com, October 2015. You can read it here.