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Beacons: the future of promotion reward technology

FEBRUARY 2016 - Over the past couple of years beacon technology has emerged on the retail horizon. Beacons present a unique, cheap and simple way to identify consumer is in a location at a point in time. This allows promotions and incentives to be targeted not only on customer segment but on location, time and inventory. With connected devices becoming increasingly sophisticated, and consumers becoming more empowered, brands must consider how they are going to evolve their promotions and incentives schemes, and include the use of beacon technology. Not only to ensure they are keeping up with the latest trends in the industry but to ensure that customers continue to engage with their brand through promotions and incentives. They can then keep loyal customers happy and entice new ones through their doors.
 
To ensure success, it is vital that organisations reach out to the right consumers – at the right time – with personalised promotions. Rather than sporadically spamming them with generalised offers. Beacons can be an important part of the right solution – being placed across the store in point-of-sale materials for example.
 
Here is my advice on how best to implement beacon technology as part of a carefully planned rewards programme – rather than simply jumping on the technology bandwagon and turning loyal customers off.
 
Economically efficient engagement
Beacons are a cost effective way to encourage active engagement. This has a much higher success rate than allowing customers to play a passive role in the loyalty relationship. Not only will such engaging reward schemes have an impact in store, but you can use them to engage with online shoppers too in a ‘clicks to bricks’ approach – encouraging online customers to visit stores where they can access proximity-based promotions through beacons.
 
For example, Odeon cinemas introduced beacons as part of its loyalty scheme to welcome customers, share offers and information. As well as to collect data with the consumer’s permission for a more targeted programme. Virgin Atlantic has also utilised the technology in airports, engaging with those who downloaded the iPhone Passbook app. The airport being Virgin’s ‘bricks’. The aim of the scheme was to support the customer journey from flight desk to departure lounge, sending out tailored offers relevant at each stage of their airport experience.
 
To guarantee the continual success of such business evolutions, organisations need to consider implementing an incentive or promotion scheme that can be accessed simply through a range of channels. Incorporating mobile devices and apps – through the use of beacons – as part of a loyalty scheme means that organisations can entice online customers to continue and develop their relationship with the brand in store with a simple, cost-efficient and ethically compliant method of engagement.
 
Changeable for multi-purpose use
Beacons are very simple – they simply broadcast who they are. If you put one in a store then you know where it is. A consumer connects to the beacon via an app and you can push any message, promotion or communication to the location and time. A good system will allow you to cheaply change those promotions and messages. Thus you can run many campaigns through the same app to achieve different business objectives. You can incentivise purchase, provide discounts, play a video, elicit feedback or give spot prizes. All of this can be easily varied by store and time of day. Want more customers at midnight? Run a prize promotion through beacons that offers a higher prize or increases the chance of winning at midnight. This ability to simply vary the content and nature of promotions through beacons is a compelling advantage of the technology. Changing the action at different times of day means that your scheme becomes much more flexible, with the ability to progress and continually surprise each and every customer. As well as maximising your ROI.
 
But remember to stay ethical. Having a promotion and communication app which customers download means they are already engaged with you. Seek the correct permissions to market. I recommend customers are actually ‘actively clicking’ in the app to sense nearby beacons. This active participation in a process engages them with you. Nobody wants to be bombarded with irrelevant offers every minute. It is vital you deal with the customer’s top concern by fulfilling on the value equation: “What will you give me and how will I benefit?”
 
Incentivise customer data sharing
Beacons can be used to encourage customers to provide data and to collect customer activity data. Data is vital for personalising rewards and promotions – to build trust and a sense of value and importance with the customer. When the data is used effectively, you can ensure that any promotions being distributed are targeted and relevant. This develops a feeling of reciprocity and helps create a long-standing relationship with each individual customer.
 
Targeted promotions
To avoid turning your customer off the brand, use an active engagement setting for your programme, such as a high street, so they have already made the conscious decision to interact and build the relationship with you. Beacons are small and discreet – meaning they can be placed in branded point-of-sale materials – ensuring that rewards are only going out to those who are in store. With this highly targeted approach, successful uptake of promotions can go sky high. Personalising these rewards to the consumer’s requirements only enhances the message of trust. This continued relationship with the brand is something that can effectively occur through these augmented beacon-based loyalty programmes; supporting a more engaged outcome from a promotions and incentive programme.
 
Gamification with augmented loyalty
The possibilities for gamification with beacon technology are endless. For instance, by introducing a more experiential relationship with the promotions and incentive scheme – such as a shopping centre treasure hunt – customers can be driven to behavioural change and are more likely to become long-term loyal customers.
 
Recently, Regent Street deployed a beacon scheme, to encourage shoppers along the high-street to visit partaking retailers. Customers were sent personalised offers, information and shopping suggestions depending on their location, allowing for an engaging multi-channel approach to the physical shopping experience.
 
Such experiential schemes can also be a solution to the dreaded ‘dead times’ in store. By offering an incentive for customers to come in store on a particular day and time to win prizes, maximises the opportunity for profit whilst reinforcing the customer’s loyalty to the brand.
So, the right offers, promotions and frequency of rewards in a loyalty scheme utilising beacons, can create a compelling incentive for heightened customer interaction and loyalty to the brand that keeps giving.
 
Paul Brown, chief technology officer at The Grass Roots Group
 
This article was orginigally featured on internetretailing.net and can be found here: http://internetretailing.net/2016/01/guest-comment-beacons-the-future-of-promotion-reward-technology/
 

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