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How beacons can support your loyalty programme

27th Jun 2016
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Spend on digital retail marketing is set to increase from £120 billion in 2015, to £248 billion by 2020, according to a new study by Juniper Research. Juniper Research’s ‘Digital Retail Marketing: Coupons, Advertising & Consumer Engagement 2016-2020’ report claims significant opportunities exist for retailers when using beacon technology.

Retailers embraced beacons in 2015, delivering 11 million incentives to consumers via the proximity based technology. This number is set to increase to 1.6 billion between now and 2020 as retailers seek to develop proximity marketing campaigns in and around their stores.

Since its introduction from Apple in 2013, beacons have emerged ever more transformative in the way we do business, especially for retailers. And it’s not a surprise, as this technology has enormous potential to influence consumers path to purchase as smartphones have become a central part of our retail experiences. 

But 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 not only entice new customers through their door but also, crucially, keep loyal customers happy. 

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.

Encourage active 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.

Deploy 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.

Employ 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.

For instance, 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 is chief technology officer at The Grass Roots Group.

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