Looking for a way to bridge the divide between your brand’s online and offline channels? Beacon advertising might be the answer.

This handy technology lets you deliver targeted messaging and offers directly to a customer’s smartphone. By bringing elements of the online shopping experience into your customer’s physical world, beacons create a brand touchpoint that can increase customer loyalty and conversions – when used correctly, of course.

To ensure you get the most out of this powerful advertising channel, we’ve put together some basic tips to keep you on the right track.

What are beacons?

Beacons are small, wireless devices that broadcast low-energy Bluetooth signals, which can be picked up by Bluetooth-enabled smartphones from around 70 metres away. One of a beacon’s key features is the Universal Identifier, or UUID, which can be programmed to distinguish your brand’s advertising messages – meaning you can use a branded app to ensure your customers receive only the communications you want them to.

How do you use beacons?

Beacons can be incredibly effective for proximity marketing, as they let you target customers based on their physical location. If your brand has a physical shopfront, you can install a beacon at the entrance and send special offers right to a passing customer’s phone. You can also use beacons to display sale prices or upselling offers when a customer is browsing near a particular product. Beacons are also great for providing semi-guided tours and bonus content throughout exhibitions, trade shows and display properties.

What are the common pitfalls?

Put simply – don’t spam your customers. While beacons allow for automated marketing, you should apply the same level of professionalism you use for your existing marketing channels. Customers are very protective of their smartphones, and if you spam them with constant notifications they’re likely to switch you off for good. In fact, research conducted by Business2Community found that while one notification can increase your chance of a sale, three notifications in quick succession could put a customer off for life. The key is to be strategic in your choice of messaging.

Don’t forget your app

You also shouldn’t discount the importance of a branded app. Contrary to popular belief, traditional beacons can’t actually interact with a customer’s smartphone – they can only transmit or send a signal for the phone to interpret. In most cases you’ll need an app to translate that signal into meaningful communication. Getting customers to download your app can be challenging, so you’ll need a well thought-out strategy to encourage conversions. Offering additional value (such as discounts and special offers) coupled with a user-friendly design is a good first step.
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