What are beacons and how do they work?

Beacons deliver campaigns, help navigate and collect customer data.

Beacons are one of the best ways to establish connection with your customers in a physical world. They trigger and deliver proximity campaigns to a person's phone based on his/hers location. Beacons also enable to collect important data on customer behaviour and increase their engagement.

What is a beacon?

Beacon is a small bluetooth device that repeatedly transmits signals that other devices like your smartphone can see. Beacon broadcasts radio signal that is a combination of letters and numbers approximately every 1/10th of a second. All smartphones “see” beacons when they receive a signal, much like sailors see light from a lighthouse.

Beacon

What are beacons used for?

Location

Beacons help indicate where you are in a physical space with precision down to a few inches or centimeters - geofence is much less precise and does not work indoors.

Engagement

Beacons can trigger various events. When you enter a room, lights turn on. ....In a mobile app, for example display information about shoes you have in your hand based on your exact location. The kind of event that beacons trigger in an app depends on you and your business case - most businesses offer loyalty programs for customers and beacons are helpful too and enable to grant points or coupons for your purchases or even time spent in a venue. It sends notifications or acts as a loyalty card. If you make a purchase at your local cafe, beacons help the app register that you were there. On your tenth entry, you get a free latte—awesome!

Navigation

Beacons are also great when it comes to locating people indoors and helping them find a way (locating a person indoors is not possible with traditional geofence technology). Creating accurate “GPS for indoor navigation” is a popular beacon use case. What Google Maps does for the outdoors, beacons can do for the indoors. They can tell you where you are and where you’re going in a museum, festival, or train station.

Analysis & Data Collection

Last but not least, beacons enable to collect valuable data about customer behaviour indoors. Please note that beacons do not collect any data, but with a use of beacons and proximity platforms like Bleesk, you can collect dozens of important metrics about your customers and then constantly improve your offer, track progress and increase their engagement. Data is one of the biggest tools at a company’s disposal. Beacons help generate data on where customers are going or where common problems occur on an assembly line. The online platform can store information on which beacons are being triggered and how users are interacting with them.

Tracking

One of the beacons’ more practical use cases is something many of us would never have guessed. In manufacturing and transport, managers need to know exactly where goods are at any given time. By attaching beacons, they can always have that information. In fact, they can even see the information from previous days or weeks.

Interaction

Whether it’s making sure patients don’t go in the wrong wing or alerting factory workers to dangerous changes, beacons can automatically send notifications (either to app users or property owners) about a safety issue. Beacons can also be paired with geofencing to add an extra layer to data security.

What are beacons

Why companies use beacons?

There are multiple reasons why beacons have become one of the most popular solutions in proximity marketing:

  • Beacons have great price / value factor compared with other technologies.
  • Beacons are easy to use and implement.
  • Beacons have multiple applications (engagement, navigation, analysis, etc.)
  • Beacons work in multiple verticals (retail, events, enterprise etc.)

Types of beacons

There are multiple types of beacons that work best for specific use case.

  • Standard beacons (devices the size of a common Wi-Fi router or smaller).
  • Small beacons (portable but similarly effective beacons the size of a credit card or a big sticker).
  • USB beacons (small, portable, quick to deploy).
  • Parent beacons (track other beacons, gather data and store it in cloud, and more).
  • Special beacons, including devices resistant to exogenous factors (dust, water, shattering, antistatic and UV) and video beacons — USB beacons that are plugged into back of a screen to deliver visual information (for example, a user approaches a screen in a restaurant, and it displays personalised offers).
  • How much does a beacon cost?

    Beacon price depends on quantity of your order, as well as the manufacturer and beacon type. You can buy a single beacon for even 2.50 USD from China. The average price on the market for beacon that supports both iBeacon and Eddystone is 25.00 USD though. If you want to order 200+ beacons you can expect to get a discount and pay around 15.00 USD per beacon.

    Beacons cost around $20. However, the price varies based on the following factors

    The range of the beacons [Most important]

    Beacon form factor Battery life Environmental capabilities (Outdoor/Indoor) Here’s a list of prices for different kind of beacons - Indoor beacons (100m range), Outdoor beacons (100m), Long-range Outdoor beacons (300m), Pocket beacons (most versatile beacons), Keychain Beacons (smallest beacons) Price varies depending on quantity typically. For a single beacon the average price is US$25. For quantities over 1000, you can expect to pay around US$15-17 per beacon.
    Beacons Please do make sure you buy beacons that are compatible with the multiple beacon protocols (iBeacon, AltBeacon and Eddystone). And if you choose battery powered beacons you will need to consider the cost of battery replacement. So I'd recommend looking at powered beacons so you eliminate maintenance costs.