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Business Beckons for Beacons

Business Beckons for Beacons

GOOGLE BEACONS LAND AT LOCAL BUSINESSES

Despite having been developed over 3 years ago, Google’s Eddystone advertising profile is now generating a significant amount of buzz in relation it’s potential for new marketing and advertising possibilities with the help of widely available and inexpensive Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons. This is, in large part, due to Google’s recently launched Project Beacon, which has seen the tech giant sending out free beacons to small businesses all over the country who may benefit from the technology. If your business received a beacon and you aren’t quite sure what to make of it, we’re here to help you get a clearer idea of how Eddystone and BLE beacons can be put to use in your marketing strategy. First, however, we should clarify the terms ‘Eddystone’ and ‘beacon’ before delving deeper.

On the most basic level, Eddystone is the software protocol that allows for communication between a physical BLE beacon and a smartphone. The communication protocol Eddystone is, in fact, named after a lighthouse, which actually provides a perfect metaphor to understand the technology. Think of Eddystone as the signal light being beamed out of a lighthouse to all ships in the area and the beacon as the physical lighthouse itself. Just as a lighthouse sends out a signal in the form of light to all ships within its radius, beacons enabled with Eddystone technology are able to transmit to smartphones in the background. They can broadcast or simply house data that can then be pushed to or requested by the user of the smart device. As long as your phone is in range of a beacon, it can get updated information about the environment you’re in.

With this understanding, we can now think about the potential uses for the software/hardware package in your small business. One of the most exciting dimensions of Eddystone and BLE beacons is the notion of the ‘Physical Web’. Google’s own Github page says that the Physical Web “[…] enables you to see a list of URLs being broadcast by objects in the environment around you.” For example, let’s say you’re on vacation in a foreign city and you need to determine whether or not the public transportation stop you’re currently at will take you to your desired destination or if you should take a car instead. The signage at the transit pick-up could possibly house an unassuming beacon that would transmit the schedule and map to your phone as you come within range. So, rather than trying to seek out the information online from your phone, your device would display that there is an active informational beacon in your immediate surrounding that is already sending you this information/data, and, if you wanted to access it, all you would need to do is swipe your thumb and it would appear on your screen.

What this means for marketing and advertising is that site-specific information about your business can now be sent directly and automatically to customers’ phones (if they opt in to receive it) as well as collected (only anonymous, non-specific information). Let say that you have an in-store offer running, you could configure your shop’s beacon to push out a URL with information about the offer to customers who are inside or nearby your entrance. Or, on the other hand, you can setup your beacon to register when people are physically in your shop’s location to build up a data set that shows you when people are most likely to be shopping with you. More advanced usages include linking your beacon and to a Google AdWords account in order to monitor when people enter your shop who had previously seen an AdWords ad you’re running for that particular location on their phone. This way you can add an entirely new dimension to your data analytics that include a physical conversion on AdWords campaigns.

We are very excited to be implementing BLE beacons and Eddystone technology in a few of our client locations, how do you see this benefiting your business or your clients’ businesses? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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