32 Charts, stats & quotes that prove you need to invest in proximity marketing in 2016

Google customer journey

Given that blueSense sells iBeacon hardware and management software, it won’t be too much of a surprise to hear us tell you that you need to get on board the proximity marketing train right away.

Luckily, you don’t need to just take our word for it.

Here are 32 charts, stats and quotes from businesses that show just how important location-based services are going to be in the near future, and why you should consider investing now.

The world is going mobile. Fast

There are now more mobile devices in the world than there are people.

We actually hit this level way back in 2014, when GSMA reported that there were 7.22 billion devices in the world, compared to ‘just’ 7.2 billion humans.

number of smartphones worldwide

Don’t expect that trend to stop though. Back then, around 60% of the population owned a mobile phone, but just a quarter of those were smartphones. Statista expects this to rise to more than 50% by 2018:

number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/

In fact, we can reasonably expect 4.77 billion phones to be on the market by 2019

And phones aren’t the only devices out there. In Q4 of 2015, the wearables market grew by more than 126%, including more than 8 million new FitBits hitting the market.

In fact, the global wearables market reached 45.7 million units in 2015 and is set to reach 126.1 Million Units in 2019. 

And of course, beacons can communicate with all of those… 

iBEacons_BLE

It’s also worth comparing this usage to desktop. Here are two graphs from Google which handily sum up the trends:

Google_Mobile_Vs_Desktop_Use

We’re buying more things, through more devices, than ever before.

And we’re also using those devices for product research (We’ll look at why this is so important in a moment).

According to Monetate, retail clients saw mobile conversion rates rise from 1.2% to 1.53% between 2014 and 2015:

2016-Ecommerce-retail-conversion-rates-by-device

  • In 2014, UK users bought £8. 41Bn ($11.10Bn) of goods through mobile devices. By 2015, that number had risen an astonishing 77.8% to £14.95Bn customers spent £14.95Bn ($19.73Bn).
  • According to data compiled by RetailMeNot, During the same period, PC spending increased by just 2%.  
  • The global mobile commerce market is set to reach $3.2 TRILLION by 2017.

Savvy businesses need to be engaging customers through their mobile devices.

Search behaviour is changing to be more local and contextual.

All these devices are changing something else as well: the way people look for information.

Customers are doing more research on products before buying, often engaging in ‘showrooming’ – looking at a product in store, but also looking for a cheaper price online.

According to Comscore, 43.3% of UK smartphone users have used their device in a retail store:

showrooming_trends

While data from Google shows how complicated the customer path to purchase has now become:

Google customer journey

Users are increasingly looking for information on the spot, and delivering content to them directly can heavily affect their purchasing decisions.

Data from xAD shows that 60% of consumers who research goods and services in-store will buy on location.

Keeping track of online & offline data is a huge challenge.

With so much data coming in, you’d think that businesses would be able to track their customers pretty well.

And they can to a degree. If you’ve handed over your email info, then a business should be able to send you emails that you are personally interested in. What they aren’t so good at is working out what goes on once you actually enter a store.

Data tends to sit in silos, and that means it’s tough to tell if an online campaign helped sell something in a store (or vice versa).

Data from Econsultancy shows that, while beacons are a far more accurate way of tracking customers in-store, just 5% of businesses are currently doing it. Instead, they are relying on tracking codes, phone calls and surveys – all methods that require extra steps from the customer:

tracking_Customers_Mobile

Customer experience is the best way to win customers

The really interesting thing here is that customer experience doesn’t begin and end when a purchase is being made. It actually covers every part of the journey –

Whether a customer wants a useful website when they begin their research, a great in-store experience, or useful information afterwards.

According to CustomerThink:

  • 92% of retailers think customer experience is vital to their business
  • 56% believe they need to seamlessly integrate online and offline data to provide a good experience.
  • Meanwhile, more than half (53%) of customers would stop using a business if they received poor in-store service, and almost a third (31%) have abandoned a purchase because of bad service.

customer-experience

Beacons allow businesses to integrate their data, and optimise in-store layouts to provide better service, as well as removing customer friction points such as the need to carry loyalty cards, or check that they are receiving the best price (Both major pain points, according to Retail Customer Experience)

Low barrier to entry

We’ve covered this before, but just to be sure: iBeacons have an average range of around 100 metres, and cost around £20. With an average battery life of more than two years, beacons cost around £0.0114 ($0.02c) per hour to run. With such a a low entry point, it’s no wonder the market is expanding so rapidly.

Meanwhile, 9to5mac has data from InMarket which shows that since they began sending iBeacon notifications to Epicurious users in stores:

  • Interactions with advertised products increased by 19x.
  • App usage was 16.5x greater for users who received a beacon message vs those who did not.
  • Users who received an iBeacon notification are 6.4x more likely to keep an app on their phone.

It has already begun

The fact that there is a key product called ‘iBeacon’ should tip you off here. Big players like Apple, Google and Facebook like to experiment, but they don’t plough serious money into technology unless they are convinced they will see a return.

Don’t take my word for it though – here’s what these firms have to say about beacons and proximity marketing:

Google: 

“Beacons are an important way to deliver better experiences for users of your apps, whether you choose to use Eddystone with your own products and services or as part of a broader Google solution like the Places API or Nearby API.

The ecosystem of app developers and beacon manufacturers is important in pushing these technologies forward and the best ideas won’t come from just one company, so we encourage you to get some Eddystone-supported beacons today from our partners and begin building!

Chandu Thota, Engineering Director and Matthew Kulick, Product Manager 

Facebook:

As people continue to use their phones everywhere and all the time—including while they shop and dine—there’s an opportunity for businesses to connect with customers online while they are in store. So earlier this year we started testing Place Tips, an optional Facebook feature that helps people learn about and connect with the places they visit, including businesses. Since we started our test, local businesses that have tried Place Tips have seen a steady uptick in Page traffic from in-store visitors.

Apple:

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology

– Steve Jobs 

TechCrunch estimates beacons will reach 60 million customers by 2019, while ABI research estimates that more than 400 million beacons will be deployed by 2020 

And the effect they have on purchasing is well documented.

According to the 2015 Retail Touchpoints report:

  • Beacons will drive $44 billion in retail sales in 2016, up from just $4 billion in 2015.
  • In 2014, 15% of retailers were launching beacon programs in the US. In 2015, that figure rose to 46%
  • 71% of retailers using beacons believe they can now track and understand how and where their customers purchase items by using beacons

The evidence is compelling, the tech is ready to go, and customers are actively looking for better, more contextual experiences. Get in touch to discover how we can help you grow your business with beacon technology and data.

Beacon deployment: Three key focus areas for success

How_To_Deploy_Beacons

Although beacons are becoming more commonplace, large-scale deployment hasn’t been quite as quick to take hold as those of us in the industry may have hoped. So, what are the main blockers for people wanting to deploy beacons?

While things are different for each individual business, many issues can be filed under three primary headings: People, Processes and Technology.

I thought it would be useful to look at each in turn and see why these issues occur, and how the beacon industry (Including here at blueSense) can help users move past these.

Technology

Let’s start with the tech itself. There are still a few misconceptions around what beacons actually do. Beacons themselves are actually fairly passive. In most cases, an app installed on a device will be doing all of the actual ‘work’ involved in receiving a signal. A beacon initially just sends a pulse of data at regular intervals, which tells the app to begin listening. This is useful because without the permissions granted by the app, beacons are unable to broadcast anything unwanted to a device. This has been a key factor with audiences, and as yet it has been difficult to communicate just how secure beacons actually are.

Once an app begins listening, it will respond to the beacon and grant it permission to deliver a new message. At this point your management software steps in and decides what kind of message is most appropriate. In the case of a retailer it might be a coupon for example, but there are endless varieties of content you could serve. Incidentally, this situation is beginning to change. There is a definite concern that users are using fewer apps than they used to, so there’s now a focus within the industry on integrating into widely-used apps like Facebook or WhatsApp, and also on circumventing the need to use an app entirely.

We’ve been building a network of enabled apps here at blueSense, and as this progresses, it should become easier for businesses to connect with customers. It’s also an area where larger commercial enterprises can help. Many telecoms providers are viewing beacons as a piece of infrastructure, rather than as adtech, and they are well placed to drive the further integration between beacons and apps as they have physical locations and app integration already existing at scale.

Processes

Technically speaking, this should be an easier area to address than the tech itself, but processes often trip up the unwary business owner. Many businesses are rolling out beacon networks, but haven’t taken the time to consider what that means from a strategic point of view.

Beacons themselves can deliver extraordinarily relevant messaging to users, but as with any platform, there is often a tendency to send too many messages. In retail in particular, you may often be dealing with a wide variety of demographics. In an attempt to reach these customers, many stores initially opted to send special-offer coupons to customers. While this is a good way of gauging how willing customers are to engage with location marketing, it is far less effective than personalised messaging.

In many ways this is similar to the issues experienced by marketers using email. In the early days of email marketing , scale was the most important thing.

Marketers were desperate for data and this gave rise to a large and often unscrupulous market for data. Over time, leading marketers have realised that sending less messaging, but concentrating on segmenting audiences and providing messaging at the correct time saw a huge rise in conversion rates.

Beacons are exactly the same. In the case of retail, simple segmentation can be a carried out around use-cases. For example, you could easily segment users who regularly use click-and-collect services and remarket online shopping options to that group. Just because data is gathered from a beacon network, it does not necessarily have to be re-used there.

Marketers are making efforts to join up various channels of communication and the data received from each, and it’s here that beacons may provide the most value – by identifying online and offline customers as specific individuals, and providing them with tailored options. This could be purely commercial; For example, if a customer researches a product online but decides to purchase in-store, then it is easier to attribute value to each channel. Or it could be a far simpler interaction – letting a customer know about an item on their shopping list they may have forgotten. The key here is to provide value and enhance experience.

beacon_deployments
Luckily, value leads to success.

When considering a deployment, it is crucial that you have clear goals in mind, and a way of measuring your results (It would be remiss of me not to mention that our own proximitySense platform is capable of this).

People

Finally, let’s talk about the people involved in the process. Any new technology comes with a learning curve, and it’s important to help both customers and staff understand exactly how and why your beacons are being used. In many cases, it can be a simple transition. If beacons are being used to track industrial assets for example, then the majority of users may see this as an improvement in workflow as there is no need to continuously scan and rescan assets being moved or delivered. In customer-facing situations, the challenges are somewhat different.

As mentioned earlier, there is still some consternation around the security of beacons, and while the majority of the public are becoming more comfortable with the idea of trading some personal data for improved services, these underlying concerns persist. We’ve made a point of addressing this by making our own code open-source, so it’s easy to interrogate where and how your data is being handled, and implement your own security systems and protocols.

On a more practical level, it pays to introduce users to the benefits of beacons slowly. Earlier I mentioned click-and-collect services, which are a useful example as there is a clear value proposition for the customer, and a reason to actively opt-in. This is also true for the leisure, retail and travel sectors. Using beacons to provide wayfinding in larger venues is again, useful without being intrusive.

Having a focus on usefulness is key if the market for beacons is to expand, but they are also key for any user wanting to engage with customers and not distract them. The temptation to push messaging may be the most obvious use of the technology, but it is not always the most useful, or valuable.

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.