iBeacons truly connect.

They allow a connection between the missing links in GPS technology. They allow for companies to target their customers based on location alone. They allow for a new era of marketing to sweep the nation. They allow for a truly special customer experience. They allow for change. Welcome to our exploration into GPS, the iBeacon, and creating a truly wonderful customer experience.

Whilst reading this article you will learn two things. The first of these is the true use of the iBeacon and why it is such a malleable and creative piece of technology. The second is even more interesting. How can iBeacons synergise with other technologies in order to craft the ideal customer experience? This is a question we will be returning to time and time again throughout this article. First, let us ask the question: How do iBeacons work?

How does an iBeacon work?

iBeacons are a form of indoor positioning. How they work is incredibly simple. iBeacons use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The short explanation is that beacons (whether made by Apple or not) receive a ping from BLE enabled devices such as mobile phones. That beacon can then provide a location for the device it pinged through a fixed access address. What this means is that people can have their location tracked inside a building, doing away with technology such as GPS for something far more accurate.

The difference between the iBeacon and GPS is that, where a global positioning satellite can tell a device that someone is at Gatwick Airport, a beacon can tell that they are on the third floor, having just gone through security, and have stopped off at the Starbucks in Terminal Two. This is right before said person sat down to await their 4.15pm flight.

iBeacons are GPS on steroids. They are infinitely useful in their applications whilst being usefully infinite in their liberations for marketing.

Of course they do have their differences in terms of application and vessel. GPS (a Global Positioning Satellite) has a range all over the globe. Beacons, on the other hand, are far more localised. Their range is subjective depending on the building and style of beacon used. Traditionally speaking it is between 70m and 450m.

How can iBeacons be used in Marketing?

From the above description it may not be obvious to see why iBeacons are a revolutionary step in marketing technology, but in order to get a full idea of their use we need look no further than Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin were incredibly intelligent when it came down to the use of iBeacons, installing them in the First Class wing of Heathrow airport. With the permission of their customers they were able to tell customers when flights had been delayed, when customers were stranded and standing stationary at the terminal. Most importantly, Virgin could tell when a bit of TLC was needed to make someone's day.

Virgin used beacons to ping their customers, let them know that support was available for them and to forward important information to them when they were at certain points in their journey. They were able to ensure the safety of their customers, encouraging an enjoyable and comfortable experience. They pinged their customers before their flights, ensuring they were aware that gates were open. They kept their customers up to date about delays and cancellations. 

The crux of the matter is that before Virgin, the experience customers were having at airports would be a typical one: Panicked, unhappy, and sweating the small stuff. After Virgin intervened the customers felt like someone was watching their back. There was someone there to catch them should they fall. There was someone there to offer them a shoulder to cry on. There was someone there full stop. 

What is displayed by the Virgin Atlantic example is extreme customer service. It is service taken above and beyond the call of duty; service to rival, and then become, the best in the business. The truly amazing thing though is that it can be used in any sector. Beacons can be used in all kinds of ways to improve organisation, human resources, and the customer experience.

Other examples include restaurants using iBeacons to tell customers nearby about special offers. Travel companies informing passengers about alternative routes or services. Hotels providing an incredible level of service both in house and about, pinpointing customers in order to create a truly world class experience. They are also using them instead of keys in certain hotel chains.

Stadiums keep track of staff to know how to distribute them to best solve problems. Theme Parks are able to enhance the experience with messages and nudges. Hospitals are using them to track doctors through the bustling corridors of the modern medical building. The list goes on and on and on. Every single sector can use iBeacons in some way or other.

What do iBeacons add?

iBeacons add an extra level of customer experience. They allow customers to be cared for in a luxurious and prestigious way to make them feel like one in a million. They add an extra level of organisation for establishments focused on providing the best possible service.

One of the cleverest things about iBeacons is not how they work, nor the improvement they allow, but rather how they allow so much with such little information. This makes them a secure piece of technology, reducing the intrusion that tracking may have had on people in the past. They do not need to transmit anything else other than a single, solitary location.

Usually, when a customer enters a store, shop, exhibition centre, or hotel the "wow" moments are in the hands of the establishment. If you have a meal at a restaurant the experience is in the hands of the maître d' and the head chef. If you are at a hotel it is in the hands of the hotel manager and his or her staff.

Through using iBeacons it is possible to give customers those "wow" moments wherever they are. It is possible to take customer experience to the next level. It is possible to make someone's day from a distance. Rather than always having the customer approach the company, the company can reach out to the customer. This gives the establishment a new front, a new face, when marketing.

What is the direct return on investment from iBeacons?

Like with numerous other aspects to marketing, it is hard to attribute a direct ROI for iBeacons. This is not unusual as, much like content marketing, utilising iBeacons is not about having a direct ROI as it is about substantiating the other marketing methods in play.

Substantiation is an easy thing to do. If someone has a positive image of a company, if someone likes interacting with them, they will not usually mind the company sending them information or updates to their mobile or email. This is one of the basic principles of outreach marketing — to find people and interact with them. Outreach marketing is made so much easier when the target of the reach already likes the company or has a good opinion of them. In other words, iBeacons should never be optimised for bogus PPI claims.

When seen as a tool for substantiation iBeacons suddenly become very powerful. They are the floodgates, allowing forth a stream of marketing potential and opening customers up to a new form of communication. 

"What if we don't want to use iBeacons?"

There is no crime in not using iBeacons. This is not the place, the article, nor the company to tell you they are an absolute necessity. Your business will not fail without them at this current moment. They are not and they will not be essential for a very long time.

This being said, what they are is a method of creating an absolutely superb and unique customer experience. iBeacons are already creating amazing customer experiences for people all over the world and, at the moment, those experiences are unique due to the fact that iBeacons are currently still in their infancy. Customers love it and companies, in return, are benefiting from that love. They are creating "wow" moments for customers, turning a "maybe we'll return" into a "we're booking our next visit now".

When used correctly the iBeacon is one of the most powerful tools of outbound marketing. It is one of the most powerful tools for human resources and management, stock management and maintenance. It is one of the most powerful tools for customer locating and targeting. It is one of the most powerful tools.

Full stop.

To sum up -

To sum up, iBeacons can be used no matter what company. Whether for marketing purposes or for human resources, they add a new level of organisational potential to establishments and aid in the high quality management of staff and customers alike.

To sum up, iBeacons create "wow" moments designed to blow the minds of customers and create truly fluid experiences. They can offer customers support when it is most needed, as well as adding the potential of physical support through customer locations.

To sum up, iBeacons are an incredibly powerful tool holding in their grasp the future of technological and marketing development. When utilised correctly they can add a whole new level to customer service, the likes of which the customer has never seen before.

To find out more about iBeacons and the potential they hold for your company, let us tell you more by clicking on the button below.

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