Forbes says beacon technology is “catching fire”. Marketing Magazine reckons it’s all a bit “yesterday”.
Before you decide what it’s not, it’s important to understand what it is… or what it could be.
Essentially, beacon technology allows location-based businesses, predominantly those in retail and hospitality, to send alerts when someone approaches or leaves their location. It allows businesses to send notifications, such as special offers, to a prospective (or existing) customer’s smartphone, thereby grabbing their attention as they pass.
For centrally located business centres and coworking spaces, it’s easy to see the potential. But is this technology really catching fire, or is it just a flash in the pan?
John T. Anderson, workspace expert at Condeco Software, answers our questions and discusses some of the ways that beacon technology could help workspace operators attract new business:
In a similar way that ‘beacons’ deliver special offers to shoppers, could workspace operators use this as part of a location-based marketing incentive to attract passing businesspeople?
Absolutely. Whenever a desk or office is free, an operator could send real-time coupon codes to nearby customers who had downloaded their app, encouraging them to come in. These offers can be highly personalized as they can be tailored to the preferences of the customer. For instance, if a customer usually rents a single desk near the window, workspace operators can send this coworker a targeted offer whenever a desk with a view is available.
Beyond the marketing advantages, it’s also important to highlight how beacons can contribute to a seamless, mobile-driven workplace experience. Coworkers that come into the office will no longer have to swipe their badges at every elevator or door. Instead, their smartphone will automatically give them access to their spaces, saving both time and energy. Moreover, the app will guide visitors to a free desk, so they no longer have to cross the building searching for a place to work. By removing all sorts of frictions in the workplace, beacon technology can improve overall workplace satisfaction.
Not every operator has a Regus-sized marketing budget. So how expensive is this form of marketing? And is there a viable return on investment?
Although beacon technology may sound costly, the technology is relatively inexpensive and easy to deploy. Beacons can be bought for between $20 and $40, depending upon the type and quality. If you’re planning to use the beacons for marketing purposes, it’s also important to consider the time and resources needed to create the marketing content that will be shared via beacons.
However, when making this investment, workplace operators should consider that beacons can help cut costs in multiple ways. The app on visitors’ smartphones will log whenever a person enters or exits a room, and trigger a reaction that turns the lights and temperature on or off accordingly, reducing the likelihood of paying for unnecessary amounts of electricity.
Moreover, beacons will give a real-time overview of the utilization of the workplace, which allows workplace operators to maximize the use of their workspace. If a certain area turns out to be consistently rented out less than others, personalized offers via beacons can increase the chances of it being used. Studies have demonstrated that 60 percent of customers open and engage with beacon-triggered content and no less than 30 percent of customers redeem beacon-triggered offers at the point of purchase.
How do customers interact with beacons from a privacy and security standpoint?
Workplace beacons offer a secure environment when they are connected to an internal network. Furthermore, personal data can be encrypted to ensure privacy over the network, which should ease customers’ security concerns.
From a privacy standpoint, beacons will only track customers when they enable location services on their mobile device and grant beacons the permission to access their information. Just like users can determine which parts of their social media profiles they may want visible to certain people, users also have the power to control their beacon privacy settings by granting or rejecting permission to an app.
Don’t all those pings become quite annoying?
Beacons don’t send push notifications, but the applications that receive data from familiar beacons do. Customers will only receive push notifications for those apps that they have given permission to. They can tailor their preferences based on personal interests, so they will only receive offers that are highly relevant to them.