10 Jul How to deliver the magic of in-mall beacons?
Retail marketers and shopping center marketers alike are wondering how to reap the benefits of beacons. Did you find any successful examples of beacon implementations? Now that beacons are on the market for some time, we have done a few implementations at shopping centers around the world, and we’re keen to share some of our experiences.
Do in-mall beacons deliver their magic? I believe they do, but there are a few considerations when you start deploying beacon technology.
- Beacons should be part of a business strategy. They should not be implemented just ‘to do something with beacons’. We have implemented them as part of omni-channel marketing strategies at malls in Germany, Chile, Belgium and Turkey. They proved to be highly valuable for delivering targeted promotions, notifications and as virtual Easter eggs, for example as part of a loyalty program or in-mall campaigns.
- Beacon technology has its limitations…: Bluetooth beacons are based on ‘BLE’ technology, which stands for ‘Bluetooth Low Energy’. Low energy has an advantage – a long battery life – and a disadvantage – poor penetration through objects. As objects can be physical objects or humans, beacons can sometimes be unpredictable in a busy retail environment.
- …But beacons can bring a Mobile App to live: Any mall mobile app without features that make it ‘sticky’ is likely to be erased just as quickly as it was installed. There are a few ways to make a shopping center app ‘sticky’, such as interactive services (cinema booking, parking availability or payment services, way finding or loyalty). With beacons, malls can add an element of interactivity to their mobile apps bridging the gap between online and offline.
- Messages from beacons need to be relevant: Whenever a mall chooses to implement beacons to push messages to shoppers, it needs to make sure that the messages which are sent are relevant. But what makes a relevant message? Firstly, it needs to have a match with the shoppers interests, demographics and opt-in preferences. Secondly, messages should be delivered timely, and at the right location. An example of a relevant message?
“Hi John, we hope you have enjoyed the movie. Did you know there is a great deal at Tokio Running Sushi today?” when John leaves the in-mall cinema at 7pm, cross-promoting the restaurant where John collected mall loyalty points two weeks earlier.
- Beacons need to be connected to an omni-channel marketing platform: In order to make messages relevant for shoppers, you’ll need to collect customer data,create customer segments in order to start one-to-one marketing. You’ll also need to manage the messaging frequency, limiting the number of messages each person receives every day. And ideally, you want to cross reference between someone’s behaviour in other channels (email newsletter, website, social media, loyalty program) and tune the communication to someone’s personal interests.
So, can bluetooth beacons deliver on their promise? I believe they do, but only when a solid marketing and communications strategy is in place, the mall understands the limitations of this new technology and when messages from beacons are sent in a relevant and targeted way.