What is a beacon and how does it help local marketing?

The beacons They are one of the technologies that are changing the marketing landscape. These devices allow us to combine local and digital marketing to send users personalized messages based on their location.

Thanks to beacons, we can offer a unique and personalized in-store experience to customers and encourage purchases in our physical establishments. The marketing of the future is already here, so let’s get to know it a little better.

What is a beacon and how does it work?

A beacon is a device with a Bluetooth signal that has the ability to pair with mobile devices to send notifications based on user location. Its range is around 50 meters, so the messages are directed to people who are in the immediate surroundings of the beacon. In order for a user to receive beacon messages, they must have Bluetooth activated on their mobile phone and have installed an application.

Beacons are very easy to install, since you just have to stick them or place them on a surface that is within the desired range area. When the user walks past the beacon, the beacon sends a signal to their mobile device via Bluetooth and the app opens to display notifications.

Unlike what happens with NFC technology, beacons do not require the user to make contact with the device nor do you take any proactive action, just be close to it with Bluetooth activated and the application installed.

Uses of beacons in local marketing

  • Send personalized and in-context notifications– When the user enters the store, we can combine information about their location with the data we have about them, including their purchase history. This allows us to send you the offers most likely to appeal to you.
  • Attract people inside a premises or to a certain section. For example, we can tell people passing by our coffee shop that we give away a donut with every coffee, or inform supermarket customers that there is a free tasting in the cheese section.
  • Enrich the experience in tourist destinations. For example, if the user is visiting a museum, we can send them more detailed information about each of the pieces that make up the collection.
  • Optimize information in the real estate sector. For example, people who are interested in buying or renting real estate can download an application so that we can notify them when they pass by an available home. The client will be able to check the location in real time and receive information about the characteristics of the property and the contact of the real estate agent.
  • Improve patient treatment in hospitals. Typically, hospital rooms have clipboards where the patient’s history is located. Beacons would allow us to replace this physical clipboard with a beacon so that both the patient and the doctor can access the information at any time.
  • Access transportation information. Smart cities have multiple applications for beacons, for example, using them to offer information about lines and passage times to people approaching a public transport terminal.

Benefits of beacons

For brands

  • They allow you to easily create local marketing campaigns. Send personalized offers, offer relevant information, invite the user to download an app… As we have just seen, beacons have multiple applications in marketing that allow us to design a tailored experience and thus improve the results of our brand.
  • Improve user data management. We already know that digital marketing allows us to obtain a large amount of information about online user behavior. And now, thanks to beacons, we can combine all this information with your behavior in physical establishments to create a comprehensive customer profile.
  • Price. Beacon technology sounds like something out of science fiction, but it’s surprisingly affordable. On the market we have beacons starting at about $60 per device. Therefore, it is a solution available to companies of all sizes.
  • Autonomy. The internal battery of the beacons has a lifespan that ranges between 46 and 104 months, that is, we can use them for several years without worrying about recharging them.
  • Event Features. If you organize large events, beacons can be extremely useful to guide and locate users without GPS and offer them information in real time.

For the users

  • Relevant information in real time. By combining information about the user’s preferences with their real-time location, beacons allow them to receive the messages that interest them most, in the ideal context to take advantage of them. All this improves the shopping experience.
  • Improved service and payments. Beacon technology can contribute to the showrooming experience, in which a customer goes to see the merchandise in a physical store and then buy it online.
  • Reduction of waiting times. For example, the customer can place an online food order by phone while approaching the restaurant or waiting in line to speed up preparation times.
  • Privacy Options. The user can choose at any time whether to activate Bluetooth and/or uninstall the app, facilitating a less intrusive experience.

3 examples of how to use beacons in local marketing

  • 1) IKEA uses beacons in its stores to encourage the use of its IKEA family card. Customers receive welcome notifications when they arrive at the store, are offered a coffee as they walk past the coffee shop, and can pay directly with their mobile phone at the checkout line.

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  • 2) Virgin Atlantic has used beacons to improve its customers’ experience at airports. Travelers receive important information about their flights, such as last-minute changes or the location of the boarding gate
  • 3) TEDxBarcelona energizes its events with beacons, offering attendees information related to the conferences and proposing challenges that they can overcome to obtain surprise content.