I continue to be amazed at the number of vendors touting magical iBeacon solutions for tracking consumers in retail settings and pushing marketing messages at them. I had a blind email from a firm this morning touting their ability to target consumers for messages using their beacons.
There is a simple message that everyone considering implementing iBeacons needs to hear — iBeacons or other bluetooth beacons are nothing more than proximity triggers and they only work if the consumer has an app installed that is listening for them. Every other mobile device just ignores them. Again — iBeacons don’t do anything without the user having already installed an app. If you’d like more info on how iBeacons work, check out this infographic.
Before considering an iBeacon strategy, you have to have an app strategy. If you aren’t already providing value to the end user through your apps, there’s no way you’ll be able to use iBeacons. Users don’t want crap pushed at them and that’s exactly the message companies selling beacon-tech today are using to sell their wares. It’s not about pushing a marketing message, it’s about a deeper level of engagement and value for those users. Provide useful information to the consumer as they visit the store. Tell a sales person on your team when a customer walking in the door has an order waiting for pickup. Take your customer service to the next level.
iBeacons will transform how we interact with our users and boost the value we can provide them through mobile devices. Anyone focusing on iBeacons as gimmicks for advertising will find their money wasted and frustrated consumers in their wake.