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:


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… 


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


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:


  • 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:


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:


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.


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:


“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 


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.


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.

How can beacons improve your next live event?


The sporting industry has been one of the quickest to adopt iBeacons. In the US, the NFL and MLB have deployed beacons in stadiums that allow visitors to check in at live games, and in return receive useful information on everything from where to park to which seat upgrades are on offer.

All useful, but things get really interesting when you start to add context that isn’t limited to the venue itself.

Many users see beacons as devices that are limited to use within a location. While it’s true that this is their primary function, the real value starts to become apparent when you start collecting location data – working out how people behave once they are actually inside a building.

The most obvious use of this data is to optimise the internal layout of the location. At a stadium, putting your concession stand in the right place can generate thousands in extra sales, or moving your gates to remove bottlenecks can have a huge impact on safety and visitor satisfaction.

Better data = more value

Above and beyond this however, beacons add a digital layer. That data can be added to the wider marketing which occurs before, during and after an event.

As mentioned, several stadiums are already experimenting with ways to increase on-site engagement from fans, for example by sending them polls where they can vote on probable next plays. There’s an obvious use case for this kind of data for the betting and gaming industry, where on-site sentiment could be used as a calculation metric.


In addition to keeping visitors entertained, these polls are extremely easy to extend to a digital or broadcast audience, adding an extra dimension to an otherwise passive activity. The TV industry already does this to an extent through platforms like Twitter, but by adding in real-time reactions, the process becomes even more personal. The ability to make audiences more active is invaluable from a commercial point of view, but this is about far more than just ‘selling’.

Many sports fans are close followers of statistics and historical data, which beacons could easily relay to devices in the crowd as each layer takes the field. Fans on site could also be connected directly to friends at home through their social networks, meaning they can interact with hyper-targeted groups to discuss play as it happens.

And of course there are plenty of opportunities for gamification. Who wouldn’t want to become a superfan or ‘mayor’ of their home team’s stadium in exchange for special gifts, loyalty points or recognition? Beacons now offer the ability to take everything offered by social media accounts and make it even more personal.

These actions aren’t just limited to sporting events, or stadiums. Gigs, theatre, movies and business networking can all benefit from this extra layer of data. In the past we’ve mentioned that beacons could be used to check attendees in to an event quickly, but once they are inside, it becomes possible to market in real-time based on their existing preferences, and connect them easily with colleagues. Networking is itself a huge part of the value-proposition for many conferences.

Once the event is over, it’s easy to match up data for greater value – which vendors did your guests visit, and for how long? Which speaker sessions were the most popular?

There are hundreds of points of micro-optimisation available, and afterwards you can segment data for follow-up communications in far more detail. As an example, I have often found that after an event I am bombarded with emails from the sponsors. While selling attendee data is a key commercial point in many cases, event hosts would be able to make sure I only received communications from sponsors I had actively interacted with, meaning that while email list volume is reduced, conversion rates can be increased. Essentially, this is on-site predictive lead generation.

Beacons are becoming more common in many venues, but there is a long way to go. Sports teams, bands and event promoters are perfectly positioned to gain massive value from beacons and location marketing. Many of them already have apps, and they have audiences that actively want more data and information delivered in real time. It may be a cliché, but giving customers more of what they already want is never a bad strategy.

Ready to get started with location marketing? Check out our range of beacons, or drop us a line to see how we can help your business improve its data and communications.

How can beacons improve train travel?


This weekend I’m heading off to Brighton for a nice day out with my wife. Why am I telling you this? Because I booked my tickets using The Trainline’s app, and while it all went very smoothly, it did make me think about how our travel arrangements could be made a little easier.

Firstly, a word on Trainline. It’s a great app that provides value in a number of ways. The marketing is all about how it can save you money, but frankly I think the real value is in the removal of friction.


In the past I’d have needed to scan through various different train company websites to find the best ticket. I’d need to register my details with them all, and I’d never quite be sure that I wouldn’t have saved money by travelling by a different route or an hour later.

Trainline gets rid of all of those problems for me. I book my tickets, I‘m sent a reservation email, and I can collect my tickets at the station.


And here’s where we start to hit some snags. Victoria is an incredibly busy station. Where are the ticket machines? Once I get to them I have to stand, phone in one hand and credit card in the other, holding up the line as I attempt to locate my reservation number.

When I do find it I have to take out my credit card to verify my identity, wait for the tickets to print… and that’s before we’ve even begun to think about which platform I’m supposed to be on, and whether or not my train is on time.

But there is another way. A better route if you like.

I stroll into the station, and am directed by my phone towards the ticket machines. As I reach the machine it recognises me (or at least, my BLE device) and finds the correct tickets for me. I click one button on the Trainline app to verify that I do indeed want to collect my tickets, and we’re done.

No need to wave my wallet about in the open, no need for cash or card. Security is increased and the entire process takes half the time thanks to a beacon installed in the ticket machine.

Of course, this is just one way of doing things. Train stations tend to be large, open spaces, meaning it’s actually very easy to install beacons. Even a space as large as Victoria only requires a few long-range beacons to cover the main concourse and platforms.


With an app like Trainline in use, the station could ‘know’ when I enter, send me information on my train’s current status and platform number, send me an alarm before departure to make sure I don’t miss it, guide me straight to the correct platform and even allow me to board without needing a paper ticket, as the ticket barrier scans my BLE device.

For stations without barriers, it would also allow staff on board each train to check my ticket quickly and efficiently – in fact the train itself could do this. No need for all that wandering from carriage to carriage clipping pieces of paper – leaving me free to sit back and enjoy my journey.

Of course, this isn’t limited to train travel. Dublin Airport currently has a network of beacons guiding travellers around the concourse (more on that in a future post) which can take at least some of the stress out of long-haul travel, , while any location that uses tickets – theatres, stadiums, clubs and music venues – can make use of a simple beacon deployment to improve the experience for their customers.