Beacon technology is becoming an increasingly popular marketing tool for large and small companies alike. A beacon transmits data via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), typically used by marketers to send data back to the source ‒ in this case a customer’s cell phone. In simpler terms, a customer’s mobile device sends a signal to a beacon letting it know this person is in a specific area, and the beacon then transmits offers, data, or other communications to the phone.
One of the most common everyday applications of beacon technology is Starbucks’ recently unveiled program that allows customers to place an order ahead of time, so that it’s ready when they arrive. They have a geofence set up a quarter mile around the store that notifies the system when the customer is close so the baristas can begin making the drink or food. Beacons will also tell them when the customer has arrived so they can call their name to let them know their order is ready.
While this is one of the more popular applications of the technology, there are seemingly limitless opportunities for marketers to use beacon technology to enhance a customers’ in-person experience, including trade show booths.
Beacons and Trade Shows
As an attendee, when you visit the expo floor at a trade show you usually get the same experience as everyone else at the event. Beacon technology allows business owners and marketers to deliver a much more customized and engaging experience to attendees.
Beacons allow you to create hyperlocal and targeted messages for your customers; say those who have visited your booth and are now watching you speak. You can send on-brand and on-time messaging that provides relevant information to your potential customers, helping foster the relationship they have with your business.
Providing Value and Content
When someone syncs up with the beacon at your booth, you can deliver content and value to them as they engage with your brand. As people arrive at your booth, you can send them an eBook, brochure, free demo code, or even a contest entry form straight to their mobile device. Not only does this allow you to save on printing costs and, but attendees aren’t left carrying around all of the information and then have the temptation to toss it in the recycle bin. As an added bonus, you don’t have to spend time and energy hocking your free resources to passersby.
A signal can also be used to push a reminder of an upcoming event, such as your keynote presentation, to attendees. After the talk, you can automatically deliver presentation slides directly to attendees. This can save them the hassle of waiting weeks to receive them or until they are posted on the conference website.
Of course, users must download the app for the conference and opt-in to receive notifications. But those who do are ready to accept your push notifications.
Beacons and Gamification
Beacon technology is a huge area of opportunity for building lasting relationships with potential customers through gamification. Whether at a trade show or in a specified local area, you can set up scavenger hunts or similar contests to help engage with customers.
Select a few locations to place the beacons and then send out clues to people as they arrive as to where the next stop might be. Not only does this strengthen the relationship between consumer and brand, but if promoted effectively, you can actually gain quite a few customers as well from attendees sharing their experience and bringing friends along.
Topi, a community and conference application, provides some great examples of how their app has been used citing room for even greater opportunities:
- The app confirmed session attendance for CEU credits
- Notifications that someone they wanted to meet was nearby
- Receiving “game pieces” to an interactive conference game
- Walking by a trade show booth and learning about a relevant product
- Receiving a piece of educational information that enhanced the learning experience
- Exhibitors were able to collect data about attendees while providing them with customized information that provided value.
The current usage of beacons hasn’t even scratched the surface of what’s possible. In a day and age where satisfaction increasingly depends on personalization for the customer, the in-person experience is becoming an even more crucial piece to the puzzle. Beacons allow marketers and business owners to customize these in-person experiences and strengthen their relationship with the brand.