It’s going to be an exciting time for marketers as they look for ways to bridge their customers’ online and offline worlds to create truly exciting and engaging customer experiences.

// Puneet Mehta, MobileROI

Beacons are fast becoming a buzzword in marketing channels. Advertising technology is rapidly changing the way brands interact with their customers, forging more personal connections and bridging the physical world with the digital. Retailers, who can now communicate with a shopper at the product level, and events, who can beaconize the venue and help attendees connect to other people or specific event elements in real-time based on location, have been the two leading industries for capitalizing on the use of beacons thus far. Business Insider Intelligence predicts that U.S. in-store beacon-influenced retail sales growth of ten times from 2015 to 2016, and that by 2016, 85% of retailers will employ beacons. But there are many – some still un-thought of – ways to use beacons when it comes to experiential marketing.

Push Notifications

Push notifications through a smartphone app are the most popular implementation of beacons. Beacon technology allows an advertiser to deploy relevant, opt-in, location-based content to a consumer’s personal device. When someone with the smartphone app walks into the beacon zone, usually a 50 meter radius from the beacon itself, they will receive a push notification on their device. Out-of-home (OOH) advertisers are already enabling their campaigns with beacons as a way to deliver branded content to a shopper along the path to purchase. According to USA Touchpoints, when an OOH ad is paired with a smartphone campaign, the reach is amplified by up to 316%.

Beacon Technology

For OOH experiences, a beacon could notify someone that they are near an activation site and invite them to participate.

Beacon-enabled experiential campaign

Many advertisers opt to push out a coupon or special offer, either through their own app or a third party mobile app they’ve partnered up with. For example, an apparel store may use the popular RetailMeNot app to deliver content as a mall shopper passes their storefront. Or, a quick serve restaurant may use the iOS Passbook app to offer a special deal. Driving foot traffic of out-of-home audiences makes sense since NinthDecimal reports that in-app ads boost physical store visits by 80% during the first day of viewing.

Beacon-enabled push notifications

In reality, the digital content a beacon shares via a mobile app can be so much more than just a coupon. A production company may want to share its latest movie trailer or a concert series may want to share a free music download. Whether you want to give walking directions, run a contest, deliver an event pass or drive traffic to a specific landing page, a beacon can help you share content that is contextually relevant to a person’s location.

A Beacon Experience

Using beacons in a similar way, experiential marketers possess innovative ways to create a consumer journey at their activation site. Perhaps, the beacon becomes the experience.

With geocaching and city scavenger hunts hot trends these days, brands can execute the same amusement using beacons. Consumers would need to download an app (and yes, there’s a customizable app for that if the brand doesn’t want to build their own) and be challenged with clues given by location-based beacons. As they unlock new clues, they can be awarded with badges or coupons from the advertiser.

Brands looking to host more of an experiential event can use beacons at various hyper-targeted locations throughout the activation footprint. Beacons can have a per-determined radius, and they can even be on the person of a brand ambassador. The customizable programming available allows marketers to get very inventive with how the beacon can create an unforgettable experience. Brands can choose place and time triggers and deliver varying content based on many factors, including frequency and delay settings as well as user segmentation, to ensure a personalized, relevant content interaction.

Creative Beacon Uses

Want to really think imaginatively? Beacons beacons come in various shapes and sizes – and are basically – a microchip that is constantly collecting data, there are so many different ways to use them in an experiential marketing campaign.

Innovative marketers at GranataPet (the same pet food brand who launched the Check in! Snack out! billboard) created kiosks for several dog parks in Germany that released beacon-embedded tennis balls that when returned in a certain amount of time would reward a dog’s fitness level.

When thinking about the hardware, itself, and what’s it is capable of, a beacon really adds an unlimited number of possibilities for your experiential ad campaigns.

Campaign Measurements

The aspect many CMOs love the most about beacon-enabled campaigns is the ability to collect data and metrics. The powerful analytics and reporting that accompany a beacon campaign are often seen as its most valuable benefit. Beacons can measure:

  • engagements
  • foot traffic
  • dwell time
  • repeat visitors
  • conversion rate

Beacons provide your brand’s marketing team deeper context when understanding a user’s journey from beginning to end; you can gain a better understanding of your mobile audiences and attribution. Plus, brands can serve really personalized messaging – that feels less like an ad and more like helpful content to a consumer – based on location and proximity. This delivery creates profound new communication strategies – and can also create relevant experiences in exciting new ways.

dio works with technology provider partners to deliver reliable beacon solutions for our experiential clients.

Download a beacon technology one-sheet that is easy to share at your next marketing roundtable!