BEACONS AND DIGITAL SIGNAGE
If you aren’t harnessing the purchasing power generated by the pairing of beacons and digital signage, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of change. How big? Some analysts estimate that beacons in the United States alone drive at least $4 billion worth of business. By using beacons in conjunction with digital signage, you can drive customers to spend their hard-earned money in your retail shop.
What is a Beacon?
Beacon technology, called iBeacon on Apple devices and Eddystone for Android devices, is an app-driven technology that uses Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) signals to send messages to your clients and customers. BLE is the same technology that connects your tablet or phone to your wireless headphones, earpieces and speakers.
If a customer has their Bluetooth technology enabled and a beacon app installed, they’ll receive a message on their phone when they pass by your shop. Since BLE has a range of 150 feet or more, the ability to lure customers in with the promise of a special offer or reward is great.
There are, by some estimates, already half a million beacons in use in the United States. By 2018, that number is expected to jump to 4.5 million. If just a fraction of those potential beacons is generating $4 billion in revenue, it’s anyone’s guess how much retail business will be driven by beacon technology as the number of beacons grows. By jumping on this growing trend, you can harness that earning power sooner rather than later.
Beacons can transmit data, but also collect it. In just a moment, you could find out a customer’s marketing demographics, searches, preferred browser and more. All of this data can help you better tailor your marketing, customer service and branding efforts to better serve those who visit your store’s physical locations.
What is Digital Signage?
Digital signage is an interactive sign. For example, in New York City’s Times Square you’ll see one of the biggest confluences of digital signage in the United States. Large and small screens are everywhere – all urging customers to visit this shop, buy that item or informing them of deals, the news, the weather, stock exchange information and more.
Digital signage is a way of engaging customers who want information and want it now. From HD television screens to touch screen monitors to giant interactive billboards, digital signage is a powerful marketing tool that gets your message out and allows customers to interact with you in a way that’s wholly different from other marketing techniques.
Digital signage is obviously a very valuable marketing tool, but it’s also a way to keep customers feeling entertained and engaged in your shop. When you create a customer-centric environment, you’ll improve customers’ perceptions of your shop and your customer service efforts. They’ll feel like you care about what happens during their visit and that you place a great deal of value in the quality of the information they receive.
How do Beacons and Digital Signage Work Together?
Imagine you could send out a message to lure a customer into your shop, where you’ve got a digital display. If customers interact with the display, you can send them exclusive information about what they’re seeing, including offering savings, rewards, coupons and more.
You don’t actually have to imagine this scenario, because it’s reality and it’s just one of the many ways that digital signage and beacons work together. While beacons and digital signage play a large part in marketing, you could also use them for customer service inquiries and as a way to give consumers information about a specific product or service. They just have to be close enough to your beacon location and be willing to grant your app access to their phone.
By using beacons in conjunction with digital signage, you can engage, entertain and inform potential and current customers. Customers who receive attention by being entertained feel more satisfied with their overall customer service experience. And informed customers tend to purchase more. Digital signage and beacons are a win for everyone, consumers and business owners alike.
How to Put Digital Signage and Beacons Together
In order to harness beacon technology, you have to purchase the actual beacons – physical transmitters that send out signals to your clients. Distributers such as Gelo and Estimote offer packages specifically geared toward business owners, but be sure to do your research before committing to a platform or beacon to ensure it serves your needs.
Hooking up the beacon requires downloading the software – again, that’s iBeacon for Apple devices and Eddystone for Android or Google devices. With the software installed, you can control the messages your beacons are transmitting.
From there, you’ll have to add digital signage options in your store and direct customers to them. It could be something as simple as a tablet display mounted next to your sweaters or a touch screen next to your housewares. Either way, you’ll have to figure out what’s best for your clients and your business’s unique needs.
Having a beacon coupled with the digital signage display can seriously increase your brand recognition and income. The odds are in your favor that you’ll recoup upfront costs – so go ahead and enjoy the benefits you’ll realize by using digital signage in combination with beacons.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve has been involved in small business marketing for more than 2 decades. He currently works for Retail Radio (http://retailradio.biz) helping small businesses find solutions to in-store marketing. Retail Radio is a multi-year Inc. 500 fast company that provides in-store music, digital signage and sensory branding products to help brick and mortar retail outlets improve their customer’s experience.