Getting closer to your customers with beacons

Here at Equator, we are always getting involved in new technologies and advancements. Not only because it will benefit our clients, but we just enjoy it.

Something that’s really caught our eye from its inception is Beacon technology. For those who aren’t familiar with beacons, they are small, wireless devices, that are low-cost and battery operated. They hide out of site on premises and serve your customers that have enabled devices, with content or push notifications.

What makes beacons so special is how personal you can get with what you’re sending your customers. And this is why we’re so very interested in them.

The benefits of beacon technology

With most of the modern world being glued to their devices, whether smartphones, tablets or smartwatches, it does take something distinctive to grab your customer’s attention. And this is where beacons step in.

As aforementioned, the personalisation and targeting opportunities that come with beacons are vast. As they are an automated service, they can serve your customers what you want, when you want, in a manner that not only suits them but is attractive to them.

An integrated digital world is our friend here, as it allows the beacons to learn a lot about your customers, in a short space of time. For example, a customer walks into your premises, and because their device knows all about them – demographic, interests etc. – so will the beacon once it connects.

This allows you to serve tailored content at a personal level to your customers, which will be much more accepted than generic push notifications.

Where can you use beacon technology?

Being industry leaders across a number of sectors, we’ve had the chance to explore using beacons in a few different situations. Two that we’ve found them to have a particularly strong use for are the hotel and health industries.

Within the hotel sector, beacons can be used to learn the habits of guests. Strategically placed beacons around the hotel can help provide fantastic customer service experiences for those staying there. For example, if a beacon notices that a regular visitor to the hotel always pays a visit to the hotel café after checking in, they can be served with information or even offers in the cafe that will appeal to them. If they tend to stay away from the hotel restaurant, beacons can provide information regarding the restaurant that the customers might not have known beforehand, and persuade them to try it out.

Beacons can also be used to help first-time visitors as well as regular visitors. Upon arrival, the beacon will know that this is their first time there and direct them to the check-in desk for example. There is even scope for using beacons as a check-in method themselves, allowing guests to go straight to their rooms if they please.

In regards to the health sector, a fast and efficient means of patient service can be attained through beacons. Using private health care for example, when a patient arrives at a hospital or health centre, they can be served all necessary information immediately through beacons.

Upon arrival, the beacon will acknowledge your check-in and provide you with everything you need – appointment time, who the appointment is with, where the department is and even directions to the coffee shop if you’re a little early.

It’s fundamentally a simple concept using existing information on user devices, but one that can streamline and personalise a number of experiences in a highly tailored fashion.

How do beacons fit into your digital marketing strategy?

While all of the above help user experience, there are a number of ways in which beacons can affect the search landscape, particularly within search engine optimisation (SEO).

Some beacons can even provide the possibility of pushing URLs and particular content to the users, and as such, it’s important for SEOs to be involved. Particularly within local SEO, it’s vital to serve the user the correct information. With local business information for example, the more thorough it is, the better chance of users converting/visiting. Beacons pose the opportunity for us to provide local information at an even higher standard than before.

Search engine results could even become more personalised than before because of beacons, which would add another layer of granularity to what we are already doing. Beacons can narrow down location targeting to a couple of meters, so what one person is seeing in their results can differ completely from what someone across the street is seeing for the same query. This tasks us with knowing our local SEO down to a tee, and preparing accordingly.

What’s next for beacons?

The number of beacon sensors deployed worldwide, generally speaking, increased a massive 490% from Q2 to Q4 in 2015. And this growth is indeed expected to continue as the technology, its reputation, and its results advance.

With the plethora of opportunities that beacons provide, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing more and more of them being used in different situations. It’s not presumptuous to predict that we’ll see more industries, not just the hotel and health sector using this technology in the near future.

The retail industry is one that has recently begun taking advantage of beacons for example. In fact, for those that have already been trialling them, 91% of males and 76% of females aged between 18 and 34 said that they were definitely influenced by the content served to them through beacons. So, it would be safe to expect more retailers to follow suit.

Despite posing the task of having to make sure your content is hyper-relevant based on location (where applicable), this in itself is an opportunity. An opportunity for you to provide the best content and information possible, which is something everyone should be striving to achieve.

If the idea of using beacons for your business interests you, we’re always good for a chat. Give us a call or drop us an email to find out how we could make beacons work for you.

By Chris Smith, Outreach Manager. 

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