June 2 2023

Proximity Marketing Options: Comparing Beacons, Bluetooth, Geofence, NFC & Wi-Fi

Proximity Marketing is the next big thing for consumer engagement and a variety of businesses can benefit from adopting this technology.

While there are a variety of products and systems available for location-based marketing, the five most common are Beacons, Bluetooth, Geofence, NFC, and WiFi.

Each one of these is affordable, easy to install, and can be quickly implemented. However, selecting the one that’s right for you depends on your goal and your type of business.


Beacons are small devices that transmit messages to nearby smart phones. Because the Beacon signal is relatively short-ranged, they are used for location specific advertising. Many department stores use Beacons to give additional information about the items on a display stand or to send coupons relating to the department the customer is currently in.

When to Use Beacons
Beacons require the smartphone user to opt-in, making them an ideal choice for messages tailored to the customer’s preferences. If your store sells age or gender-specific items, then Beacons may be the most successful Proximity device for you. This will prevent situations like a male customer in the gardening section receiving promotions for women’s or children’s clothing.


Most standard Bluetooth devices are “always-on”, meaning that they don’t require opting-in or approval from the customer first. Bluetooth transmitters, unlike location-specific Beacons, have a range of several hundred feet which enables them to potentially cover an entire department or smaller store.

When To Use Bluetooth
Bluetooth is more prevalent than Beacons and most customers know that this technology doesn’t put their personal information at risk. It can also be adapted to a wider range of applications. Offices can use Bluetooth in their waiting rooms to provide their clients with news articles or games. Outdoor locations, like concert venues, can use Bluetooth to offer a schedule of events or give directions.


Geofencing defines geographical boundaries using the global positioning system (GPS) or radiofrequency identification (RFID). When a smartphone enters or exits the geographic boundary, brands can deliver personalized and targeted content to consumers.

When to Use a Geofence
Marketers can use geofencing marketing in many different ways. Since it is usually more beneficial for reaching people in larger outdoor areas, businesses use it to engage shoppers as they pass by their business location, reach consumers who are in or near competitors, drive engagement at live-outdoor events, and much more.

NFC (Near Field Communication)

NFC uses small chips or tags that are placed on the surface of an object. The users hold their phone near the NFC tag to “scan” it, and then they receive the information embedded in the tag. NFC technology has similarities to Beacons in that they require the consumer to opt-in and directly interact with the technology.

When to Use NFC
These tags have a short-range and are best suited for messages relating to an individual item or product. One scenario where they may be useful is at places with a relatively small number of high-value items like a car dealership. A sign at the front door would educate customers on how to use NFC tags. Then customers can scan each display model at their own pace to learn more about it.


Most businesses already have some form of Wi-Fi in their stores. Adapting this technology to location-based marketing might be the simplest and most cost-efficient choice for businesses that want to test proximity advertising before committing to other methods.

When to Use Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi can send the same message throughout the store. This lets the business alert customers of any store-wide promotions such as a 10% off sale or discounts on specific items. Another use may be to encourage patrons to sign up for store loyalty programs.

When you combine location-based technologies with proximity marketing software like mzCONNECT, you’re able to deliver personalized, engaging campaigns in real-time that increase user retention, drive goal completion and boost the overall lifetime value of your app users.


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