BSPOKE Software | Digital Transformation Partners

What is beacon technology and how does it work?

For business owners or those involved in marketing decisions, you may have heard of beacon technology and asked how it could help your business. Since its launch in 2013 by Apple, beacon technology has developed rapidly. More recently, many companies received free beacons with Google’s Project Beacon which has only boosted in this technology. We take a deeper look into what beacon technology is and how it works.

What beacon technology is

A beacon is a transmitter that uses Bluetooth technology to communicate with other smart devices close by. They are small and wireless transmitters using low-energy Bluetooth and are popular for proximity marketing. They make it easier to search using location and are a simple way for devices to interact.

The beacon will advertise within a small radius and these signals are found by devices connected to the internet. If your phone or connected device receives a signal, the company’s app can be downloaded, and content related to your location will be shared.

How beacon technology works

Since its launch in 2013 with Apple’s iBeacon, beacon technology has only continued to increase in popularity. It’s a simple piece of technology and within the device, you’ll find a radio, a CPU, and batteries.

The system works by broadcasting an identifier continuously which is then picked up by a device. The identifier has its own ID number, which your phone or device will recognise, and from there, the beacon can offer the information it has been programmed with. There are many different functions within beacon technology and why business owners and marketers are interested in its potential for attracting new customers.

One consideration with beacon technology is that you’ll always need the user’s permission to receive your notification. If users switch Bluetooth off on their phone, they opt out from receiving marketing notifications. As some individuals never use Bluetooth, this can limit your audience in certain areas.

Some notifications encourage users to switch Bluetooth on by stating they’ll enjoy an offer or full experience by doing this. Many companies are opting for beacon technology as they believe it’s a less intrusive option than RFID, as the user has the option to ignore the notification.

What beacon technology is used for

The main reason for using it is to offer location-specific content directly to devices within an area. It only covers a small space, so you’ll want to create content that’s targeted for that location. This technology is ideal for use at events or festivals, where schedules and programming can be offered.

It’s best used for short-term and specified purposes but can be placed almost anywhere. Shop-owners and marketers see value in offering location-based deals using it. If you are struggling to get customers into your store on a particular day, advertising a discount for those passing the front of your store.

While marketing and sales have many obvious uses for beacon technology, it has potential uses within workplaces and education. For companies or schools struggling with attendance, you can offer unique content that’s only available within a particular area.

This could also be used to attract visitors to a certain site or event your company is holding by offering an incentive for entering the venue. Beacon technology provides another way for companies to collect consumer data which can offer a more personalised experience in the future. When used in an engaged way, beacon technology can offer enhancements for both consumers and businesses.

Beacon technology is popular

Beacon technology and beacon devices are generally very easy to set up. However, it is still underused in most industries. The activation of the device is the easiest part of the process, but developing content can be more time-consuming and challenging for marketers.

Beacon technology is easier for large companies to use as more users already have their app downloaded. If you are a smaller brand, asking users to download your app can be challenging. In some situations, such as corporate events, you’ll find this less of an issue, as attendees will likely want to use an app at the venue.

The challenge with beacon technology and engaging customers in this manner is getting customers to switch Bluetooth on. Most phones automatically have this switched off to conserve battery power. While people may be happy to put it on for a special occasion or a few hours, if you are looking to use this for a full-day or multi-day event, you’ll find it more challenging to get users to agree to.

Many consumers are also extremely wary about using technology that is location-based and they feel uncomfortable sharing personal data. As this is still a relatively new technology, there are obstacles that you’ll need to overcome to encourage your consumers or employees to engage with beacon technology.

Types of beacons available

If beacon technology is something you wish add to your marketing repetoire, you’ll find beacons are available in many types depending on your needs. The standard beacon is small and is used for location-based marketing. Even smaller beacons are available, which are only the size of a small sticker, are discreet and easy to add to stores or venues.

Other options available include USB beacons, video beacons and AI beacons. As this technology develops further, we can expect to see new advancements to beacon technology in future.

For business owners and marketers, beacon technology is a fascinating development that can be a great solution for location-based marketing. It’s a great marketing tool that works within a small area and offers a new way of targeting customers. When used correctly, you’ll see immediate results.  Beacons will only be adopted more readily in the upcoming years.

Contact the folks at BSPOKE Software today!

Apple laptop Apple watch Apple iPhone coffee mug on white desk
Apple laptop Apple watch Apple iPhone coffee mug on white desk

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