Beacon Technology – a Smart Software and Marketing Concoction

What is the beacon technology

Beacon technology appeared in 2013 and referred to a wireless communication technology that enables small devices called beacons to transmit signals to nearby Bluetooth-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets. These beacons use low-energy Bluetooth signals to broadcast their location. When a user’s device comes within range, it can detect the signal and trigger an action, such as sending a notification or opening an app.

The BLE signal range is up to 50m and thus closes the gap between NFC. (Near field communication), which transmits data very accurately, but accurate to a few centimeters, and Wi-Fi, which can cover a much more extensive range, and thus again, too inaccurate for positioning.

Beacons are based on the principle of a receiver-transmitter. For this, transmitters (beacons) are placed indoors, performing the functions of signaling devices. These beacons send out signals at intervals that receivers (e.g., smartphones) can understand and process. This makes it easy to locate the recipient, which also provides internal navigation.

Beacons can be used in various industries, such as retail, hospitality, and healthcare, to provide location-based services and personalized customer experiences. For example, a retail store can use beacons to send notifications to customers about sales or promotions when they enter the store, or a hospital can use beacons to track equipment and monitor patient movements.

Beacon technology offers a simple and effective way to provide contextual information and enhance user experiences. It is a popular tool for businesses and organizations looking to improve customer engagement strategies.

Beacons are miniature devices of various shapes, often similar to flash memory, based on Bluetooth Low Energy technology. Due to their size and autonomy of operation, the devices can easily be placed everywhere in enclosed spaces, providing new opportunities for communication and positioning with an accuracy of several meters.

The beacon’s operating principle is based on transmitting radio signals that a special BLE gateway can receive. After installation, the beacon begins to send signals with a specified interval. As soon as a mobile device with a pre-installed mobile application or enabled Bluetooth/Wi-Fi enters the target’s field of action, it recognizes these signals and starts performing specific tasks (sends the user push-notifications or contextual advertising).

Advantages of the beacon technology

  1. High accuracy: The technology explained and its associated options make beacons especially interesting for location-based service.: BLE can be used anywhere you cannot reach a reasonably accurate position because GPS or Wi-Fi is not available with the accuracy you need. The technology can also be used where the distance from NFC would be insufficient. Wi-Fi range is about 46 meters indoors, and beacons have an accuracy of up to 150 meters.
  2. The signal is sent automatically: Also, beacons send signals to the user’s device without any action, as in the case of QR or AR codes, for example, which the user must capture on the camera. Indoors, floors are no longer obstacles.
  3. Different ranges for different actions: This feature uses the iBeacon protocol and gives “ranking.” Measuring relative distance with “Immediate” means you are only a few centimeters away, “Near” means a few meters, and “Far” means more than 10m away. The applications of this technology seem almost endless: you can use relative and absolute positions for beacons and thus revolutionize entire industries.
  4. Affordable cost: Compared to other technologies, Beacons are much more affordable due to ease of deployment, making it a low-risk and potentially high return on investment.
  5. Responsive and flexible: Bluetooth Beacon technology is easy to use and can be applied to many industries, such as offices, factories, airports, hotels, retail, education, and other public places.
  6. Personalized Marketing: Get a deeper understanding of customers and do personalized marketing and customer segmentation based on proximity marketing technology.
  7. Improve customer service: According to the study, people turn on about 14 percent of standard push notifications, but more than 50 percent of messages sent by beacons turn on because they seem more relevant.
  8. Stimulate local sales: People will be enticed by Beacon-based proximity notifications to install a corporate mobile app and eventually be directed to a specific location in the store.
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Disadvantages of beacon technology

  1. Information bombardment: As long as the message being sent is valuable to the user, it is successful marketing. However, sending the beacon to the right audience is a good experience for the user. They will feel bombarded with information and get mad at too many push notifications and even stop using the app.
  2. Short battery life: Most beacons are powered by a coin-sized battery, and the battery life is primarily dependent on the app, so some users may find it inconvenient. However, you can also use USB beacons instead or check with the supplier when placing an order.
  3. Limited audience: Beacon technology is limited to BLE(Bluetooth) signals, so Beacon technology cannot detect a user’s device without Bluetooth enabled. This has limited the company’s access to data, and only users with Bluetooth can be targeted at the target audience, mainly young people. In addition, some brands rely on apps to interact with customers. If customers enter the store without installing their application, they cannot receive offers and other notifications.
  4. Cost Consideration: While beacon technology can bring much more value to a business, deploying multiple beacons is still costly for small businesses because there are costs associated with deployment, testing, and maintenance.

What are beacons used for

Indoor navigation

The use of lighthouses helps enterprises to improve the quality of customer service. Visitors are allowed to navigate inside the premises with the construction of an interactive map in real-time. Using a mobile application, a person can build routes to places of interest and quickly find the necessary points inside the building. So, with the help of beacons in stores, you can easily find the required cargo, and when visiting exhibitions and museums, you can quickly get to exciting exhibits. Such an approach significantly improves customers’ user experience and provides companies with direct communication channels with visitors.

Definition of locations (positioning)

Accurate positioning is a natural solution in the working conditions of a large enterprise. Beacons successfully cope with this function and help quickly establish a person’s location or asset’s location. When using them, you can:

  1. track the movement of people, equipment, and transport;
  2. determine the fact of non-targeted use of working time;
  3. instantly react to emergencies;
  4. control and redirect flows of people.
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Asset and personnel tracking

Beacons play an essential role in enterprise security. They can be installed on equipment embedded in employees’ wearable devices, which allows tracking of movement. Thanks to the implementation of beacons, the positioning system becomes an effective solution for emergency warnings and prevents the theft of company property. Also, devices help to monitor the work of employees. With their help, it is possible to fix the time of arrival and departure from work, lateness, and absence from work. Technology helps to build digital interactive maps with access zones and to track unauthorized entry into such places.

Analytics of visits

Beacon technology allows for analyzing visits to shops, hospitals, administrative and other institutions. They help build heat maps, develop visitor flow maps, and determine the fact and frequency of business visits. Thanks to the information received, marketers can better understand visitor behavior and personalize offers for specific customers.

Social or marketing interaction

When using beacons, you can provide users with engaging and relevant content. Devices quickly determine users’ location, allow to evaluate their behavior, and then send information to the smartphone according to the conducted analysis. Customers will receive targeted push notifications that may contain the following information:

  1. greetings;
  2. notifications about current promotions, special offers, and sales;
  3. useful information about goods or services;
  4. advertising offers.

A similar approach increases user loyalty, makes the establishment more attractive in the eyes of the client, and encourages him to return.

Tracking the flow of people for safety during Covid-19

In the conditions of the spread of the pandemic, beacons help the management of enterprises to take adequate measures to prevent the infection of staff and visitors. With their help, you can solve several important tasks:

  1. Observance of social distancing – they send signals about large gatherings of people on the premises or reduced distances between users, which helps respond promptly.
  2. Tracking contacts – to determine locations, you can fix the number of connections of that or another person and select the duration of interactions.
  3. Monitoring vital signs – when installed in bracelets or individual tags on clothes, they can accurately calculate body temperature, pulse rate, and other parameters.

Areas of applications of the beacon

The area of ​​use of beacons covers many areas of life. With the development of digital technology, the Bluetooth low energy beacon has become widely used in the following areas:

  1. Retail and shopping centers – used to navigate in stores and receive additional marketing channels.
  2. Airports and train stations – help passengers to navigate the premises of transport hubs better.
  3. Healthcare – allows you to find suitable rooms quickly and control the location of medical equipment.
  4. Logistics and warehousing – provide precise control and optimization of warehouse stocks.
  5. Offices and real estate – improve positioning in large business centers and allow you to control the movement of office employees.
  6. Museums and exhibitions – help create mobile guides and quickly find the right exhibits.
  7. Industry – opens up opportunities for continuous monitoring of personnel and production assets.
  8. Sports – improve navigation in stadiums and sports complexes, allowing you to monitor athletes during the game.
  9. Events – event organizers can use beacons to provide attendees with location-based information about speakers, sessions, and other event-related activities.
  10. Hospitality – hotels and resorts can use beacons to provide guests with information about the property, nearby attractions, and other helpful information.
  11. Transportation – transportation providers can use beacons to provide real-time information to travelers, such as flight updates and gate changes.
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How beacon technology involves marketing

Beacon technology involves marketing by enabling businesses to communicate with customers through their mobile devices while they are near the beacon. Beacons use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to send signals to nearby mobile devices. When a customer with a mobile device comes within range of a beacon, the device receives the signal and can trigger an action, such as displaying a notification or launching an app.

By using beacon technology, businesses can deliver personalized and targeted messages to customers based on their location and behavior. For example, a retail store can use beacons to send special offers or promotions to customers who are in the store. A restaurant can use beacons to send menus or promotions to those waiting for outside customers. Beacons can also track customer behavior and provide insights into how customers interact with a business.

Beacon technology can help businesses to enhance the customer experience, increase engagement, and improve marketing effectiveness by delivering highly targeted and personalized messages to customers in real time.

How beacon technology is expected to grow

Beacon technology is expected to grow in the coming years as more businesses realize the benefits of using this technology to improve customer engagement, increase sales, and gain valuable insights into customer behavior. Here are some factors driving the growth of beacon technology:

  1. Increased adoption: As more businesses adopt beacon technology, consumers will become more familiar with it and be more likely to use it. This will create a network effect that will drive further adoption.
  2. Improved technology: Beacon technology is becoming more advanced, with longer battery life, more excellent range, and more accurate location tracking. These improvements will make it easier for businesses to use beacons in various applications and locations.
  3. Growing mobile usage: With more people using mobile devices for shopping and other activities, beacons offer a convenient and effective way to communicate with customers in real time.
  4. Growing interest in location-based marketing: Location-based marketing is becoming more popular as businesses seek to deliver personalized customer messages based on location and behavior. Beacons offer a powerful tool for providing these messages.
  5. Integration with other technologies: Beacons are integrating with other technologies, such as augmented reality and mobile payments, to create more engaging and convenient customer experiences.

Conclusion

The growth of beacon technology is expected to continue in the coming years as more businesses realize its potential and consumers become more familiar with its use. As technology advances, with improved battery life, range, and accuracy, companies can use beacons in a broader range of applications and locations and offer their customers more engaging and convenient experiences.

Beacon technology is a powerful tool that can help businesses to improve customer engagement, increase sales, and gain valuable insights into customer behavior. It is an area that is likely to see significant growth and development in the future.