January 12 2016

How Beacon Marketing Can Boost In-Store Sales

With beacon technology, businesses can send notifications, data, coupons, promotions and and other content consumers want; when and where it matters to them. Beacons help transform every consumer’s mobile device into a virtual sales person and can help with up-sells, cross promotions and brand visibility from within your store.  In today’s retail environment, shoppers rely more on their phones than a sales floor associate. With over 74% of customers using their smartphones while they shop, beacons become the obvious choice to boost in-store sales. 

New Trends in Tech: Beacon Marketing and Mobile Advertising

Technology is constantly advancing and businesses are now able to enjoy an unparalleled variety of ways to connect with their customers. Old-fashioned coupons and paper advertisements are a thing of the past and consumers are turning to their smart phones more and more to get the latest deals. The best time to reach these customers is when they’re actually in the store but up until recently there have been technical limitations that made in-store mobile advertising very challenging. GPS signals are blocked by concrete walls and WIFI isn’t location-specific enough to be effective at targeting where people are actually located.

What are Beacons and How Can They Help Boost Your Sales?

Beacons are small Bluetooth-enabled devices that detect nearby cellphones and can transmit messages or advertisements to them. The beacons are placed inside of the store itself and have an extremely accurate location detection. This enables the store to “know” where the customer is and send them relevant messages based on their position such as coupons for the department they’re currently in or more information about a display they’re standing in front of.

Beacons are not only inexpensive (each unit typically costs less than $100) but they are also very effective at boosting in-store sales.  A recent study by the tech-brand Swirl reveals that customers overall feel very favorably about beacons and 73% of them say that they’re more likely to make a purchase based on an offer they’ve received from a beacon. Even better is that beacon coupons or offers have an almost 30% usage which is leaps and bounds over the typical 1-3% standard coupon redemption rate.

Beacon Etiquette: Remember that the Customer Comes First

1. Respect Your Customer’s Privacy

One of the biggest potential problems with this technology is that recipients may feel like beacon messages are too invasive or are even a potential threat to their privacy and security. It’s important to reassure your customer that they are in charge of their own shopping experience. An introductory message like “Your phone has detected nearby advertising beacons” is perceived much more favorably than “Nearby advertising beacons have detected your phone.” Your customer should never feel like they’re a target or that they’re personal devices are being used for something that’s out of their control.

2. Let Your Customer’s Opt-In

Don’t assume that every customer will appreciate receiving beacon messages. While many consumers welcome the technology, some may find the message bothersome and prefer to keep them disabled. A good practice is to send an opt-in beacon message when the customer first enters the store. This should clearly explain what the other beacons will be offering and ask the customer if they’d like to participate.

3. Choose Your Beacon Messages Carefully

Beacons can only boost your sales if the customer feels that they provide a good value and offer relevant content. If you know some key information about your customer (age, gender, shopping preferences) you can tailor coupons and offers specifically to them. However, you may not necessarily have this data and if you transmit too many unrelated messages to your customer it’s almost guaranteed to make them disable the feature entirely. Similarly, don’t overuse beacons or they’ll wear out their welcome. A few high-value messages will be received positively by your customers, but too many offers constantly pinging their phone will become a nuisance.


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