How to Implement a Beacon Strategy:  4 Critical Steps for Success

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | January 20, 2016 | Read Time: 4 mins

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When it comes to adding context and interactive experiences for your customers, employees, students or guests, one of the most popular answers is to implement a beacon technology strategy.

Beacons are rapidly growing in their use in almost every industry, from K-12 classrooms to stadiums and airports, location-based services like beacons are offering a new level of experience for everyone connected to your wireless network.

However, simply installing beacons in hallways, within product displays, or in the stands at the big game isn’t going to just magically turn a profit.

To maximize your investment you will need to create the right beacon strategy. Here are 5 simple steps you need to follow to successfully add an interactive experience for your network’s users.

Understanding who your users are

Just as you would if you were introducing any new service or product it’s critical to understand who your end-users are.

  • Who is your target audience,
  • What type of experience are you trying to offer them,
  • Are you solving a problem or simply adding a new feature or service?
  • What types of devices and operating systems do they use (i.e. Android, iOS),
  • What type of environment will you be deploying your beacons in?

These are all critical questions that must be answered before you install a single beacon. How can you expect to offer a valuable, contextual experience if you don’t understand your end-users?

Your new beacon strategy should be based on giving your customers, guests or employees the personalized experience they want and in some cases need. It shouldn’t be a way to annoy people with push notifications and spammy advertising.

Figure out how your end-users are currently using technology and the kinds of activities they are doing when they’re inside your business. Technology can only drive smarter business decisions if you understand how to leverage the right data points to add value to your end-users.

Mastering the technology

Technology can drive amazing results; however, if you aren’t careful and strategic with its use, it can also have devastating consequences.

Usually businesses fail when they don’t understand the technology they are implementing. This is true when it comes to beacons as well.

There are many different kinds of beacons available (AltBeacon, iBeacon, URIBeacon) and you need to consider numerous variables before selecting which is right for your strategy. You need to consider factors such as:

  • Battery life (typically BLE devices are 2 years)
  • Range of transmission (typically with BLE it’s around 230 feet but this depends on location and interference as well)
  • Customization
  • Appearance or the size, shape and color of the beacon

Selecting the right beacon provider comes down to the needs of your strategy so it’s important to understand your options.

You should perform tests with different beacon options and watch or conduct demos to see what they’re capable of and where they’re limited.

Know the challenges you might face

There are many different obstacles and challenges that you’ll face when deploying a beacon strategy. Some of the questions you’ll want to ask are:

  • What actions do your customers or users need to take to take advantage of the new experience i.e. do they need to download your app? Do they have Bluetooth enabled on their device? Do they need to turn on location-services on their device?
  • Do you need LTE or Wi-Fi to support your beacon strategy and its content?
  • What does your app do that will offer value to your end-users?
  • Is your app easy to use?
  • Does the experience make sense to your end-users?

Never stop planning

So you’ve finally installed your beacons and your end-users are starting to engage with them, this is awesome but where do you go from here?

There are two main types of planning that you will need to continually focus on; preventative maintenance and the user experience or content.

Beacons are fairly low maintenance when it comes to your IT team, you’ll want to constantly be aware of new software updates, as well as battery levels. Servicing your hardware will be on an as needed basis but you’ll also want to constantly monitor the physical health of each one of your beacons.

The more interesting task is keeping your end-users engaged. You can’t expect to deliver the same experience forever. As part of any beacon technology strategy knowing where you’re going is critical for your success.

Ask yourself:

  • What new experiences can you deliver to your users,
  • What problems can you help solve,
  • What feedback can you learn from them to improve the experience,
  • Should you try different placements or increase the sensitivity of certain beacons
  • Are you leveraging the right data points to drive a better experience?

Beacons and other location-based services are ready to improve the user experience and drive a greater ROI for every industry.

They can transform your business with smarter insights and offer your customers, employees or students a truly personal experience. However, nothing in technology is ever free and it rarely comes without its own challenges.

It takes the right amount of planning, education and infrastructure to be successful, but the results will be worth it if you do it right. If you have any questions about beacons or other location-based services please contact us here, we’d love to see how we can help.

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