With the release of iOS 7 came a new technology ‘iBeacon’. The ability to send media rich alerts to users within proximity of your BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacon.
This feature extends the use of the locational services in iOS on later apple devices from the iPhone 4s or 3rd generation iPads and later.
Your iOS device can alert apps that you have approached or left a specific location by picking up the data from your device using a Bluetooth low energy signal detected by a beacon. The beacon allows the app to identify your proximity to the beacon (for example, a display or checkout counter in a retail store), then the app can be setup to display push messages or offers on specific items your close to.
This however can’t happen by accident, it requires you to have bluetooth enabled on your device and to have the locational services enabled. Most advertisers use their business mobile app to target existing customers with digital offers and updates, as this almost acts as an opt-in to be engaged by that business, however, with bluetooth and location services turned on any beacon could be used to send information to any customer.
To find where you control this on iOS, navigate to: Settings > Privacy > Location Services. You can disable iBeacon whilst leaving your other location services active.
Proximity marketing isn’t a new concept. This technique has been used for years in the US, especially shopping malls and big conference centres, offering creative and engaging ways to add value for a customer. Galleries and Museums have used it to provide information directly to visitors as they walk around an exhibition.
The launch of iBeacon has created a booming cottage industry of developers creating bluetooth beacons and applications to offer their services based around the new tech. Proximity marketing has officially launched for the smaller business!
So what’s so great about proximity marketing?
1. It’s targeted. The customer receiving your messages are in your direct vicinity. You have control over the time, message, and interaction delivered.
2. It’s trackable. Bluetooth software can detect the number of connections and their breakdown by hour, day, week, etc. The software also detects the number and size of messages sent.
3. It’s economical. The hardware is affordable and there are plenty of options for software. Many companies offer support and extra software options for a small cost.
4. It’s mobile. Not just mobile phone mobile, but the hardware can travel for a multitude of needs. Events, promotions, or changes in location are all easy adjustments.
5. It’s remote-management capable. The software can be programmed and monitored by your social media specialist or from your own office, if it happens to be located off premises.
So how can this benefit your business?
Whether you choose to use an agency or go it alone. Proximity marketing in it’s basic form is very affordable. If you have a company app, this can be extended to use iOS locational data and if you don’t have a company app, for a reasonable monthly fee you can have a company app that uses iBeacon technology. Next is the beacon itself used to detect the
pray customer. These can currently be purchased from as little as £15 on amazon. There will of course be a learning curve in setting things up based on your strategy, but you can find a lot of information online.
How could I use iBeacon & proximity marketing?
Obviously the main contender for such campaigns would be the retail industry. However here are some other great ways small business could implement this to extend their reach.
1. Get a business app that uses iBeacon tech, then setup a campaign to broadcast special offers or friendly reminders to nearby customers so they are more likely to visit when in the area.
2. Multiple touch points can be used to inform customers already in your premises. Offer useful information that could add value to their experience above and beyond a simple offer to purchase.
3. Digital signs & displays can be triggered when a device comes in range.