Although beacons (or iBeacons) have not made it all the way to the mainstream just yet, it does seem to be just around the corner. So, what is this new technology and how may it be used for marketers to deliver better and more personalized experiences?


Never heard of Beacons?


iBeacons is a new protocol by Apple which was first revealed in 2013. This protocol allows Bluetooth low energy transmitters, known as iBeacons, to communicate with Smartphones, Tablets and other portable devices will then be able to pinpoint the distance between the device and the iBeacon.


Using an internet connection, the beacon then allows the information of the whereabouts of said devices through an app or operation system.


Why does it matter to a marketer?


As a marketer, this technology opens a lot of doors, communicating with customers directly. It may be used through a brand’s App, to locate customers in physical stores with precision. It allows for both overall sales activities when a customer enters a store, and directly aimed personalized offers when a customer is next to a display of a specific series of products.


For any brand with physical stores or locations, beacons may be used to increase the accessible information linked to a customer and allow for each customer to experience positive interactions with the brand. Meeting a clerk or store manager at the counter, they will be able to direct you to that new collection you were looking at last week or invite you to an event taking place at the store you visit the most.




Registering when a customer is close to a beacon and sending this data online does not do mean anything in itself. However, with the right system, campaigns can be configured based on the triggers of different beacons:


Example A – Help your employees

A customer walks into a store and triggers a beacon. This activity triggers a message to the available employees in the store with information about the customer; their shopping history and preferred products. Based on this background information, the store employees have a better chance of finding ideal products for the customer.


Example B – Vouchers for product interest

A customer walks into a store. As they are standing close to a display of new products for a certain time, it triggers a beacon. This activity triggers a push notification on the customer’s smartphone, offering a voucher code for buying any item within the new range of products.


Example C – Storing product interest

A customer walks into a store and spend a certain amount of time within the reach of the beacon placed on top of the display of products. This activity stores the data of “interest in the product”. In the next newsletter, the email will then contain an offer for this product. That is, if the product has not already been logged in the customer’s “purchase history”.


When to go for beacons?


Beacons may seem like an outer-worldly technology to those who don’t know the technical aspect of it. Since the technology may be brand new to some customers and may upset some segments of customers, it stresses the need to consider all aspects of these predictive models: Will some customers have a bad experience from this ultra-personalized type of marketing? An example like the storing product interest for later use in an email can be a good middle ground for using the tracking function of beacons – without forcing the data directly to the customer themselves.


Another alternative could be to allow customers to give a separate permission to push direct messages based on beacons. This way only those interested will receive these messages and hopefully find it useful and relevant to them.


Bottom line: If you do decide to go for beacons to aid you in your Marketing efforts, be aware of the power of this personalized tracking, and how to use it in more indirect ways. As always in Omnichannel Marketing Automation, think about getting the right message to the right person, at the right time, in the right channel.


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