What is a beacon and how does it work?
Beacons are (often) tiny Bluetooth devices that can be discreetly placed indoors or outdoors. They scan for Bluetooth enabled mobile devices in their proximity range, as they broadcast an ID number. The beacon can then either log that device or send a message to that device.
What kinds of beacons should you get?
There are a wide range of beacons available to buy depending on your needs. There are long battery life beacons, beacons that are more suitable for wider ranges, waterproof beacons, wearable beacons and a whole lot more.
Make sure you get beacons that are both iBeacon (Apple) and Eddystone (Android) compatible.
How much do Beacons cost?
If you’re buying just one or two beacons from a reputable store then you’re probably looking at a starting price around the £10 mark. For long range, outdoor beacons we’re talking nearer £40 to £50 a pop.
Beacons for tracking car dealer visits
So here’s where it gets interesting for car dealers! If you’re running Google Ads campaigns to sell used cars for example, you can track how many people click an ad, visit your site and then complete an enquiry form. With clever call tracking technology from companies such as MediaHawk, you can also track how many people call you after seeing an ad. What you can’t currently do, is track how many people turned up at your dealership after clicking your ads or know which campaigns drive footfall and which don’t.
Here’s where beacons come in – plant these little devices in and around your lot and you’ll be able to get a view on how many people see your ads, click them and then visit, plant one in the showroom itself and you’ll be able to track further intent.
How car dealers can use Beacons
We’ve looked at how proximity beacons can help you track ad campaigns and we know that has a huge value, but those same beacons can also be used to push out notifications to your customers smartphones as they enter the proximity area of each device. Anything from a simple “Welcome to Blanco Cars” to “Welcome to Blanco Cars, why not download our app to get the most from your visit today”.
Short range beacons can be used to provide the user with a whole host of vehicle information as they approach each particular vehicle.
Here’s a thought… if you’ve got a competitor in your area, you could always plant a beacon near their dealership entrance and blast a “come to us instead message”. But that would be unethical right?
:: UPDATE ::
This article was originally posted on October 13th and was intended as the first of a series on Beacon technology and proximity marketing for Car Dealers. Come October 25th, Google makes a shock announcement that Android will no longer support “Nearby Notifications” from December 6th onwards! The Android blog statement noted… “However, earlier this year, we noticed a significant increase in locally irrelevant and spammy notifications that were leading to a poor user experience.” and “As a result, we have decided to discontinue support for Nearby Notifications.”
In the US, a significant business community has been built around this functionality and the short, somewhat “matter of fact” statement must have come as quite a shock to those heavily invested in this technology.
The announcement does not necessarily herald the death of proximity marketing. Beacons can still talk to permission-based apps that users install but this is a significant barrier. Companies will need to either invest heavily in custom apps or adopt a commercial platform to reach users but more significantly, users themselves will have to download that app to take advantage of the technology.