I'm not going to lie. When I first came across the beacon, I was a little concerned. It seemed a bit invasive to me, like something right out of 1984. After some preliminary research, I began to understand why beacons are useful, and actually now highly suggest them to businesses large and small.
What is a Beacon?
A beacon is a small device that, with Bluetooth, is able to recognize the location of a certain individual's smartphone when it is nearby. Why is this helpful? Due to the location-based technology, you are able to send promotions and messages through the device to the smartphones that enter its geolocation. For example, we at Captivation Agency have a beacon located by our front door. When someone with a smartphone with Bluetooth turned on enters the building or comes very close to the building, we are able to send a "Welcome to Captivation Agency!" message straight to their phone! Pretty wild, right?
Why Do I Need a Beacon?
Whether your business is large or small, beacons are of great use to you. Not only is it helpful to send customers information, but you can easily make them feel special. For example, you could send out a promotion through a beacon, therefore only those with their Bluetooth on could see the promo code and feel exclusive. If exclusive isn't what you're going for at the time, you can have a generic message (which is highly suggested) when an individual comes within a certain distance of your business or storefront, putting your business in their mind.
Think about it! You run out of milk. On your way to the store, you pass a different store (you may not have even known was there) that sends you a message announcing a special sale on bread or just to say hello. Suddenly, you decide to stop at the store, since it's closer and why not try something new! This could happen with any type of business, whether it be a storefront or not. Beacons are just another way to get your message out there.
Getting Started With Beacons
You can request beacons for your company through Google or Facebook. If you have development resources at your disposal, however, you can buy the beacons off of Amazon and create your own content to push to clients and customers. This content can be personalized with a software development kit (SDK).
Where Should I Place My Beacon?
Beacons should be placed wherever there is a high-traffic area. As I said, ours is by the front door, so everyone who walks in or by can receive our message. Another cool idea, especially for storefronts, is taking the whole "interactive store" idea to the next level. You can have multiple beacons located throughout your store with different messages. For example, if you are a clothing store, you can have beacons located under some of the tables or racks that pop up with information about the nearby product. This way, customers can see the details about the product without having to search through the tags, and maybe even get a deal (if you put a special coupon on there)!
Do Beacons Work on Apple and Android Devices?
This is the only current flaw with beacons. As of now, beacons are predominately utilized with Android devices. However, more capabilities for iOS devices will be available soon, so keep checking!
Are Beacons An Invasion of Privacy?
As previously discussed, I was not a fan of the idea of beacons at first. If you are feeling the same way, let me try and help you out. Instead of just sending out random messages to everyone who passes by, you could do a more generic message quickly stating what a beacon is and that your store or business is interactive. Technology is advancing every day, so it was only a matter of time before interactive stores became a reality.
Therefore, beacons really aren't an invasion of privacy, as you aren't stealing any of their personal information or stalking their every move. The device has absolutely no access to your information, as it is really a one-way communication. If someone is uncomfortable with a beacon, all they have to do is turn their Bluetooth off!
Beacons are an amazing way to bring your business a step up into the future. While the idea may seem scary at first, it most likely will be the next big craze in easy digital marketing techniques. Get ahead of the curve and get one now!