Beacons: What’s stopping you?

deploying_Beacons

As a marketer, I spend a fair amount of my time on Twitter, and of course I’m always on the lookout for information about the beacon market, so when a recent Twitter chat popped up discussing proximity marketing I was quick to join in. 

One point that stood out in particular was the various obstacles that marketers felt they faced when deploying beacons. We’ve spoken before about some of the myths associated with the tech, but it seems that many users still believe that beacons are ‘techie’. That they will be enormously complex to set up, and that it will cost a huge amount to do so.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. I thought it would be a good idea to address these concerns here – and hopefully help you to begin using beacons for your own business.

Beacons are expensive aren’t they?

First of all, let’s talk money.  Beacon technology is actually very cheap. The devices themselves are lightweight, and in most cases you will not need a huge number to begin experimenting. Our V3 beacon has a range of up to 100 metres (330 feet).

To give you an idea of how far that actually is, meet the Hybrid Air Vehicle:

Hybrid_Air_Vehicle

That’s the world’s largest passenger aircraft. It’s a little larger than a football field. Oh, and it’s 330 feet long. Pretty big eh? And just in case, we also have a long range beacon, for those times when you absolutely have to send a message to someone standing at the opposite end of four Olympic swimming pools.

It is worth mentioning that signals from beacons do ‘bounce’ off various surfaces like mirrors or light fittings, so most users will need more than one (I’ll talk more about this in a moment), but even so, the cost is very small. Here’s why:

First of all, our beacons are built to stand up to all sorts of abuse. They can take plenty of knocks and keep on transmitting. Even if you particularly enjoy knocking them about or keep running over them in a forklift, we have an especially tough weatherproof version that will – quite literally – take anything you can throw at it.

Because they are so strong, it means they will also last a very, very long time. A regular beacon has a battery life of around two years, while an extended battery version will keep going for five years, non-stop (Or if you prefer, the same amount of time as the Starship Enterprise).

Star_Trek_Quote

And it’s worth mentioning that beacons can last even longer than that, but five years is actually about the working life of a regular AA battery. The battery will give out before the beacon does.

This brings us back to cost. Over two years, you’d be paying about 2.7 pence (3.9 US cents) per day. If you sent messages to five people during that time, each one would cost you half a penny. 

OK, so beacons are cheap to use, but aren’t they complicated to set up?

You probably know where I’m going with this already, but just in case: Nope.

Terms like ‘real-time data and ‘proximity marketing’ can make things sound complicated. With any new technology there is a certain amount of learning that has to be done, but in this case it’s more akin to figuring out your new mobile phone than ‘learning to code’.

This where Proximity Sense comes in.

Proximity Sense is our beacon management platform, and we’ve designed it to be very, very user-friendly. As a user, all you have to do is turn on your beacons, and add a message for a group of beacons, or for each individual one.

manage_iBeacons_easily

This could be a simple ping letting you know where the beacon is, or you could upload a nice picture, and add a message (‘Buy one, get one free’ for example) or, well, there’s a lot of possibilities.

The whole thing takes a few minutes. After that, you can pop in to look at the results whenever you need to, but if left alone, the beacons will continue doing their thing for the next two years.  Oh, and if you want particularly detailed analytics information, or have a lot of beacons that you are setting up with different messages, or need to manage them in many different locations, we’ll even do it for you.  Which brings me neatly to my next point…

Earlier I mentioned that beacon signals can bounce off certain surfaces. This isn’t a major problem, but it does mean that some thought needs to go into where you place your beacons. We’ve also spent a long time working with beacons here at BlueSense, which is why we send qualified engineers out to take care of this part for you – easy! We can make sure that you’re beacons are in the right place to reach the right customers.

Anything else I should know?

Finally, some users have found that managing beacons can be a bit of a pain. If for example, the battery does go in one of them, then in the past you would have had to wander past each beacon checking them in turn, rather like checking the bulbs on a string of Christmas tree lights.

We thought about this, and that’s why we’ve also produced our Management Hub.

Beacon-monitoring-Hub

The Hub plugs straight into your wifi, and keeps an eye on groups of your beacons to make sure they are all running smoothly. Having this happen automatically also means you can easily check which beacons are getting the most engagement. If one isn’t reaching people, you can simply move it to a busier area. This means you can quickly optimise your campaigns to reach the most people.

So, beacons are inexpensive, long lasting, and easy to set up. What’s stopping you?

We’re always looking for ways to improve how beacon technology is used, so if you have any other issues, or you want to get started with beacons, drop us a line and let us know how we can help.

Matt Owen