iBeacon 101

iBeacon is a new class of technology that uses low energy and low cost transmitters to send and receive signals. Smartphone apps can be configured to recognize these signals through Bluetooth, and trigger a personalized message as the smartphone approaches the beacon. With the launch of the Apple Watch, Fitbit and other “Internet of Things” devices, at least one third of smartphone users keep Bluetooth enabled – creating a real marketing opportunity for app owners.

iBeacon diagram
iOS devices both recognize beacons and act as iBeacons themselves. Image via The Nerdery, http://bit.ly/ONSWFk.

Using iBeacons to trigger messages

Carnival allows you to trigger personalized messages to app users based on user behavior, profile, location, and technology, so you can deliver content that’s relevant to a user’s specific app experience at the moment that has the most impact. iBeacons expand on Carnival’s geotargeting capabilities, offering more precise parameters for a user’s location.

With iBeacon and marketing automation software like Carnival, you can influence a user’s purchasing decision by triggering a message as they near a product counter or grocery aisle display. AMPM, for example, uses beacons to trigger welcome messages as customers enter stores.

Personalized messages with iBeacon + Custom Attributes

For app owners, the ability to pair beacon data with app and customer data is HUGE. With Carnival’s Custom Attributes feature, you can segment users by user characteristics that are specific to your app (e.g., loyalty program status, purchase history or visit count). Pairing these user segments with precise locations via iBeacon, allows you to trigger personalized messages at the perfect time for each user.

A cosmetics retailer with a loyalty program, for example, can deliver different experiences to individual customers, even when they approach the same beacon in the same store.

Customer #1 – Five points away from next loyalty reward: 

“Hi Anna! You’re only 5 points away from your next reward. Enjoy two samples from our Summer Collection with your purchase today!”


Customer #2 – Hasn’t made a purchase in 60 days: 

“Welcome back Jen! Stop by our counter for a complimentary makeup application and 10% off your purchase today!”


Retail examples and industry trends

Many brands are using beacons to measure foot traffic at the individual store level. At this stage, however, most are not taking advantage of message targeting through iBeacon – and are missing the massive marketing opportunity to provide a better customer experience and influence the buyer journey.

We have seen a few instances of trading audiences, where one brand gives an app access to their beacons in exchange for advertising in that app. This definitely has potential for some win/win partnerships. A sporting goods retailer, for example, may give beacon access to the NFL app, in exchange for running promotion or app install ads inside that app.

This article from last December provides a good summary of what 15 well known companies are doing on mobile, including Virgin Atlantic, Apple, and Starwood Hotels.

Getting started with iBeacon

While most marketers can identify powerful use cases for beacon messaging, they can struggle to execute messages that feel personalized, and not spammy. We think pairing iBeacons* with powerful marketing automation tools like Carnival is the solution. We’d love to discuss your use case – request more info here.

*Carnival pairs with any iBeacon technology, including providers such as GimbalRoximity and Estimote.

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