Open any marketing article and you’re bound to see the word “beacon.” They are being positioned as the Holy Grail for retailers since they can be used to drive store traffic and increase in-store conversion. You’ll be hard pressed to find retailers that don’t have plans to install them in store this year.
For publishers, beacons and proximity marketing is the Holy Grail because it will become possible to track a reader’s shopping journey, from the minute they discover a brand in your magazine, to the moment they walk in the store to purchase. Since 90% of sales still happen in store, that’s a whole lot of “credit” that is not being attributed to your title right now.
In the first part of this special series, we present a brief primer on beacons – the real challenges and opportunities for deploying them in today’s marketplace.
Poised To Explode
Beacons are not new. A beacon is simply a transmitter of a signal that can be recognized by a “receiver” programmed to listen. So why haven’t they been used for marketing until now? The answer is simple – until the proliferation of the smartphone and advent of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), it was not practical to place these transmitters in high traffic areas, nor was there a device that a consumer might carry with them to “listen” for these signals.
Thanks to today’s technology, a beacon is roughly the size of a hockey puck, costs about $10 per unit, and can be easily placed in locations where marketers might want to communicate with consumers, for example on an outdoor advertising panel on a city street, or at the entrance to a store.
According to Forrester, about 30% of smartphones are enabled to connect to beacons using BLE today, and that number is expected to grow to 80% in the next 15 months. So now you understand why we’re early in the adoption cycle, yet there is a real urgency to figure this out.
Let’s Get Practical
To use this technology it takes more than simply placing a beacon and waiting for massive BLE smartphone adoption. There has to be a shopping related app (of value) installed on that phone, plus the backend messaging infrastructure to turn a signal into a meaningful consumer engagement via that app.
Retailers today are taking a simplistic approach, placing beacons in store to help their existing app users navigate to specific departments. The more sophisticated (and ultimately the desired) use of the technology by retailers, such as messaging to a broader base of consumers located outside the physical store, who have a preference for that retailer and demonstrated intent to purchase a product the retailer carries, have not been implemented until now.
Companies like Gimbal and ShopAdvisor are changing this, partnering to offer a turnkey solution for taking product/retailer preference data and using it to drive in store purchase from a broader base of mobile shoppers – just in time for this holiday season.
How Can Publishers Play?
Ask yourself this question – what is valuable enough to you as a consumer that you would keep your smartphone location turned on, and install one shopping app that listens for BLE signals?
ShopAdvisor recently did a survey of female shoppers to answer this question. The resounding answer – the value received had to be personally relevant. They wanted to know if there was a deal for something they wanted to shop for, or for shopping at a store they liked to shop in. To sum it up in the words of one respondent, “…allow me to be the first to find the items that I love, with a price point I also love.”
Where do consumers turn to find the latest looks, or see what their favorite retailers are offering this season? Magazines of course. And that’s where magazine publishers have a distinct advantage, because they can capture that interest by offering shopping directly from their pages – and now, with the help of proximity marketing solutions from ShopAdvisor and Gimbal – turn that interest into a retail store visit they can get full credit for.
In closing, rest assured you are not late to the party. We’re just getting started. But if Forrester is right in their predictions, anything you can do today to pilot a proximity marketing program using beacons will put you way ahead of your competition when these programs are ready to scale. And that looks to be in the not so distant future.
Stay tuned for part 2: Creating the Path from In-Book to In-Store
To learn more about the potential of native commerce and proximity marketing revenue for your magazine, visit http://www.shopadvisor.com/retailers.