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    3 iBeacon Best Practices for In-Store Product Marketing


    An Estimote beacon; Attender.com

    Apple’s latest technological marvel, iBeacon, has the potential to change in-store product marketing forever. It enables push mobile marketing by using stationary sensors to pinpoint the location of a smartphone and proactively send information to it. The technology behind the beacons works with a store’s mobile apps, integrating location and other data to enhance the shopping experience. It’s already been deployed in Apple stores, and adopted by Estimote and the app Shopkick.

    How iBeacon Stacks Up to Current Tech

    1. Better indoor location awareness. Unlike GPS, which pings satellites and is notoriously unreliable indoors, iBeacon uses stationary indoor transmitters to detect mobile devices moving in and out of range. Even areas that were previously considered phantom zones with poor cell reception can be “geofenced” to detect mobile users anywhere from inches to yards away.
    2. Longer-range detection. While NFC (near-field communication) only has a range of up to 20 centimeters (approximately 7.87 inches) with an optimal range of less than 4 cm, iBeacons have a range of up to fifty meters, enabling you to push marketing to shoppers as they approach stores.
    3. Smarter “micro-location.” Put three (or more) beacons in a room, and you can pinpoint much more specific positions than GPS. The beacons work together to triangulate the near-exact location of any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, so you’ll not only know when the mobile user is in your store, you’ll know which aisle they’re on, and which products they’re hovering over.
    4. Few devices required. Retailers can pinpoint micro-locations without requiring a device by each product. The triangulation process means you only need a few beacons in each area, at a low cost per beacon.
    5. No QR code scanning required. Content alerts can be pushed directly to enabled mobile devices without the user having to initiate a request. The shopper must simply keep Bluetooth on, have agreed to location awareness services, and have installed the store’s app.
    6. Greater reach. Not all mobile devices have NFC capabilities, but many are Bluetooth-enabled and therefore iBeacon-friendly, potentially giving you access to a much larger group of consumers. And, thanks to Bluetooth LE (low-energy) technology, iBeacons are more energy-efficient than traditional GPS locators that drain battery life. Presumably, mobile users will be more inclined to leave Bluetooth on than GPS for this reason.
    7. Next level buying experience. Micro-location makes it possible for iBeacon technology to guide customers through stores, point them to your products and push them valuable product information. Integration with other data and apps opens up additional possibilities like shopping suggestions based on social media “likes” and hands-free payment for PayPal users.

    How Product Marketers Can Use iBeacons:


    Estimote beacons can provide micro-location information to shoppers. Click here to watch.

    • To trigger enter events like flash sales and special offers as users approach stores, enticing them to come in
    • To direct shoppers to specific locations and products with tools like interactive store maps, potentially integrated with the items on their shopping list
    • To send relevant, product-specific offers and info to mobile users while they’re in the store
    • To trigger exit events, including hands-free payments customers can execute without ever opening their wallets

    How Product Marketers Should Use iBeacons

    As exciting as these opportunities might be, the only way for this type of push to mobile marketing to work long-term is if in-store mobile users keep Bluetooth enabled and remain willing to receive content. The last thing you want to do is inundate customers with irrelevant offers and information that make them turn off their phones and get turned off of your brand.

    “Businesses will have to be careful not to inundate us with crap.”

    Wired.com blogger Kyle VanHemert, 4 Reasons Why Apple’s iBeacon is About to Disrupt Interaction Design

    3 Best Practices

    1. Provide content that adds value and is genuinely useful, not just annoying, distracting and self-serving. We already know that the #1 reason mobile users use their phones in-store is to search for product information—part of the “self-help” trend as buyers seek out more information before deciding which products to buy. Last year, we shared stats from Google’s in-store mobile marketing report confirming that 82% of in-store mobile users use mobile search to research products—beating out price comparisons (72%) and searches for promotional offers (63%).With micro-location, you know what section of the store the shopper’s in. Push ultra-relevant content that educates them about your product and eases anxieties about features, assembly and use.

    “Smart marketers will use the new technology to do more than bombard consumers with coupon offers. The cleverest content executions will undoubtedly invite passers-by into virtual experiences that are genuinely helpful in the buying process.”– MediaLab 3D Solutions

    1. Make it engaging and interactive. Just because in-store shoppers want more product information doesn’t mean it’s okay to just drop them onto a static page with tons of copy to read. Mobile users want to consume lots of info, but in digestible bits, with increasing affinity for content like video.

    “A limited screen with smaller fonts means less tolerance for text-heavy reading. Focus on photo and video friendly content, punch up your font size, and shorten the length of your content.”

    -Geoff Livingston, Razoo, Users Prefer Video in Mobile Ads

    1. Repurpose your best mobile-friendly content.  The 3D animations and interactive presentations you created to sell your channel partners, train your sales staff, guide installers and wow customers on the web are ideally suited for educating and engaging shoppers in-store. And, if they were created it HTML 5 or integrated into video, they’re already compatible with mobile devices. Recycle product demo animations that show your product in action and animated cutaways that reveal important inner workings and mechanisms. Serve up instructional animations before the sale to let ease of assembly, installation, cleaning or use be selling points that set you apart from the other brand.

    A Few of Our Favorite Shopping Scenarios:

    • Shoppers browsing closet systems at Home Depot receive a mobile invitation to view a 3D product demo previewing the ease of assembly. As they leave the store with their new purchase, they receive a link to the full instructional animation for step-by-step guidance at home.
    • Customers looking at juicers are invited to view an animation that shows them how much easier it is to clean your model compared to other brands. A link to an interactive recipe booklet gives them ideas for getting started. Videos on the benefits of juicing and five star product reviews affirm their decision to buy.
    • Appliance shoppers lingering around ranges are alerted to a series of animations allowing them to access info on only the features they’re most interested in. They can watch a demo on the stay-cool induction cooking surface or the oven’s new easy self-cleaning feature.
    • Shoppers searching for computer accessories or home networking equipment are invited to access an interactive product selection tool that helps them determine which models are compatible with their existing tech.
    • As shoppers pass a car display in the mall, they’re invited into an augmented reality tour that lets them point their phone at features in the car to learn more.
    • Department store shoppers retrieve an interactive map that directs them to the items they’re looking for by product name or category.
    • Superstore shoppers access an interactive map that syncs with their mobile shopping list—items saved to the list from the store’s website or weekly ad—for down-to-the-aisle guidance to specific products and deals.
    • Mall shoppers are alerted as they near items they’ve “liked” in their social media communities.

    The possibilities for push marketing with iBeacon technology seem nearly limitless. And, with advances in mobile, augmented reality, and payments technologies—even concepts that seemed futuristic last year are emerging on the virtual horizon today.

    Chime In
    How could you use iBeacons to promote your products? Which types of interactive tools do you think customers would respond to the best?

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    1. […] We’re so excited about this new technology, we can hardly stand it. Check out our favorite beacon-based shopping scenarios and beacon best practices for marketers for more info and […]

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