Proximity marketing technologies and strategies occupy a large sector of the digital marketing industry, even though they are relatively new. Customers demand a more personalized experience when dealing or interacting with their favorite brands, and marketers offered them such an experience with the help of proximity marketing and its fast-developing tools. For example, it is estimated that by 2022, the number of proximity mobile payments made in the US will reach 74.9 millions per year. With such impressive data, marketers and companies are doing everything they can to keep up with trends, technologies, and customer needs, yet in doing so, many of them end up using the wrong methods or applying solutions that are not suited to the requirements of their business.
In-store shopping is still one of the most sought customer experiences on both sides. Customers still love to browse the shelves and try or test the products and services of their favorite brands or of emerging ones, and companies still invest a lot of time and financial effort in brick-and-mortar stores. Yet nowadays, an in-store shopping experience brings more benefits for both of them, due to modern technologies and smart implementation on behalf of marketers. If your store uses proximity marketing you can increase basket size by triggering impulse shopping by getting your customers attention with a message sent in the right moment, automate cross selling and upselling, promote new products and offer special discounts to those in the vicinity of your location or already inside your store, collect profile data, and many others.
Proximity marketing can be implemented through a range of solutions, such as NFC technologies, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth beacons, and others. Once seen as the future of retail, hospitality and entertainment industry Bluetooth beacons have recently been subject to examination due to their lack in providing companies and customers with what they needed in terms of personalized experiences through a simple, easy-to-use, and trustworthy proximity marketing solution. But what made marketers and companies became weary of beacons?
Beacons started off as a great idea, and although they were expensive and rather difficult to implement from the start, companies thought that as is the case with all new technology, the costs will decrease once the usage will escalate, and the technology will become more feasible. Five years after they were introduced, Bluetooth beacons have taken a different road. Here is why using beacons for proximity marketing is a bad idea, and how companies can overcome the minuses of this particular proximity marketing tool with the help of other simpler and more effective solutions.
The main disadvantage of using beacons lies in the technology itself, precisely in how beacons work. Retailers or other businesses have to place beacons in strategic places throughout their location, beacons which then need to connect to the Bluetooth of a smartphone that not only needs to have the Bluetooth function activated, but also an application installed for the connection to work. The beacon then sends a signal to the smartphone that opens the application, and through that application, if the customers decide to keep it opened, companies can send their messages.
As you can see, this is a fairly complicated process, requiring a lot of effort from both customer and client, a process that is also perceived as unsafe by customers who don’t feel comfortable leaving their Bluetooth activated for anyone to connect to it. Also, having that option enabled consumes the battery of a smartphone, which is why most people end up disabling it, regardless of whether or not they desire to be contacted by brands while out shopping. The functioning of beacons requires a significant effort from the company since they are not cheap, and most of the time having just one beacon won’t be enough to engage with customers.
When it comes to data, beacons fail both in the implementation process, as they are not implemented based on demographics that might help your business attract more customers or engage in a better manner with current ones, nor do they give the possibility of gathering and analyzing data which to further be used for the improvement of proximity marketing strategies. Not having sufficient data to analyze means not understanding marketing ROI, not knowing where your money goes, or whether or not it was a good idea to implement a beacon-based solution.
Aside from having to keep the Bluetooth function enabled, customers need to install an app for the beacon technology to work. Most businesses have developed their own application, yet this is a practice that is usually targeted towards loyal customers only. If someone walks into your store for the first time, chances that they will install an app to connect to your information are low, as opposed to the chances of them logging in to your free Wi-Fi hub and agreeing to interact with your brand. This is one of the main reasons for which simpler solutions such as Wi-Fi-based proximity marketing are preferred by more and more businesses, since they require no additional technology and are customer-friendly.
A digital marketing strategy shouldn’t rely solely on sending advertisements to customers once a beacon signal catches the signal of their smartphone, yet given its limitation, there is not much else you can do with beacon-based proximity marketing. In order to have a smart, innovative, intimate, and personalized digital marketing plan in place for your customers, you will need to correlate various strategies such as text message marketing with proximity marketing, and offer more than just messages with information about products or sales.
Use Wi-Fi-based proximity marketing and implement it alongside digital marketing strategies with which to create a unique shopping or visiting experience for your customers, not just inform them of new products or discounts. You can create loyalty programs, invite your customers to participate to brand events, engage with your nearby community, or personalize the shopping experience by offering styling sessions, courses, or any other activity that might fit your industry.
Bluetooth beacons are no longer the go-to technology for proximity marketing, yet with modern and more inclusive solutions available, proximity marketing remains the best solution for businesses to offer a more personalized and engaging relationship to their customers whether we are talking about retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, entertainment parks, museums, and many others.
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