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The introduction of iBeacon technology creates another promising, yet perplexing, superpower to the mobile line up.

Location-based marketing is necessary in the age of personalized communication. Customers expect it, but are highly sensitive to the quality of messages delivered. Meanwhile, marketers continue to grapple with the capabilities that allow them direct, immediate access to shoppers. How can marketers leverage the power of in-store beacons to create mobile campaigns that deliver effective location-aware messages?

Follow these three tips to unlock the potential of iBeacons and be sure to come back next week to check out our brand new infographic:  ’Winning the Loyalty Game with Mobile’.

IBEACON BASICS TIP 1: UNDERSTAND HOW BEACONS COMMUNICATE

The first step to unlocking the power of iBeacons is understanding how in-store beacons communicate with mobile devices. If you are concerned about overstepping the privacy lines, remember that the phones are the devices that are doing the listening. It is not the beacon that is aware that the phone exists. iBeacons send a low-energy Bluetooth, or Bluetooth LE, signal that the phone picks up. Customers must opt-in by having Bluetooth enabled on their phones.

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You might ask yourself, how can iBeacon be a promising location-based marketing tool if it requires that consumers walk around with Bluetooth enabled on their phones 24/7? Think about the number of Bluetooth enabled devices you encounter in a day. Bluetooth exists everywhere, from entertainment systems, to cars, to deadbolts on doors.

Bluetooth LE uses a fraction of the battery power that it’s early Bluetooth predecessors claimed. With minimal impact on battery life and the ever increasing prevalence of Bluetooth LE powered consumer products, the “on” position and iBeacons’ power has become permanent. Bluetooth LE is not a hindrance to mobile device usage; rather it enhances a mobile device’s connected capabilities for consumers. Similarly, iBeacon allows marketers to enhance a customer’s in-store experience.

IBEACON BASICS TIP 2: ENHANCE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

The essence of iBeacons’ superpower is rooted in the ability for marketers to deliver mobile, location-based messaging. With iBeacon, mobile devices transform into mobile concierges that facilitate a shopper’s current behavior.

Marketers no longer have to guess if a customer is in the store. It is a fact and with that knowledge, there is power to deliver extremely relevant customer experiences. iBeacons can improve the customer experience in traditional retail outlets by delivering content the shopper will use while they are in the store. For example, an iBeacon enabled app can pull up the localized weekly ad content for the specific store location as well as a reminder that the customer should use her loyalty card to get the member-only pricing.

Enhanced experiences don’t have to be driven entirely by the retailer either. For example,McCormicks Zatarain’s brand was the first CPG brand to leverage iBeacon enabled apps to deliver special recipe content and product finder information when shoppers walked into grocery stores. Zatarain’s simultaneously took the guess work out of how to prepare a quick and easy dinner and directed the shopper to the exact location in the store where she could pick up a package of rice. iBeacon triggered marketing messages not only improve the customer’s in-store experience, but can also expose what a shopper is doing while she is in the store.

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IBEACON BASICS TIP 3: MAKE THE MOST OF THE DATA

Mobile marketing, like all digital, must be driven by clear measurement and data objectives. Marketers’ iBeacon strategy should be developed with a partner that can package and deliver data collected by in-store beacons. Remember our advice from tip #2- iBeacons open up opportunities for marketing to deliver better customer experiences. When the experiences are powered by data collected over time, their power is enhanced.

iBeacons can tell you exactly when a customer walks through the door and can then help track the customer’s journey through the store.  Imagine a shopper’s basic weekly grocery store trip. When she walks in the door, iBeacons trigger a reminder  to use her grocery list and her loyalty card saved in her favorite shopping app. As she walks up and down the aisles, additional in-store beacons track the time she spends lingering by the cereals in the organic foods section.

The proper iBeacon strategy can deliver enormous data from this seemingly mundane grocery trip. When behavioral attributes are combined with purchase data tracked by the customer’s loyalty card, marketers can uncover that the shopper spent several minutes looking at organic cereal but ultimately did not purchase any. Remarketing opportunities now arise to encourage future purchases of organic cereal.

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iBeacons will continue to be one of many mobile capabilities tested by marketers. What sets it apart is the specificity it can provide to fuel location-based, relevant content delivery. As marketers consider iBeacon and the role it can play in their strategy, they should start with an understanding of the technology and the potential partners that could help them execute implementation of in-store beacons. Then, marketers must consider iBeacon’s true superpower– its ability to drive enriched customer experiences. Also, marketers should prepare for the insights returned from data that iBeacons capture. Starting with these iBeacon basics will inform and direct a mobile strategy that fully capitalizes on the technology.

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