Do you remember Robert De Niro’s “circle of trust” message in the comedy “Meet the Parents”? When in-app customers opt in to your communications, they are inviting you into their “circle of trust.” Take care not to disappoint them. With the advent of iBeacons, marketers have the opportunity to enter the customer’s inner circle of trust, and this is a precarious and powerful place to be.
Forrester, in “The Impact of Beacons in Retail,” writes that location context powered by beacons will succeed where Wi-Fi, near field communication (NFC), and others have failed because, one, the technology already exists on mobile phones; two, the pilot programs or trials are inexpensive; and, three, customers must opt in, which is a good thing.
Last week, in part one of this iBeacons series, we looked at some of the data from the iBeacon’s early adopters. The results seem to be backing up the hype: Beacons work. Beacons have the ability to successfully engage customers in their mobile “moment of need.” We also explored the premise that customer centricity and proximity go hand-in-hand. In other words, when you’re using location technology to get up close and personal to the customer, you must remember that the customer is always in control.
Today I’d like to explore more early innovators that are using both push and pull marketing to woo and win their app customers while inside their circle of trust.
Be Prepared For iBeacon Growing Pains
When feeling overwhelmed with mobile marketing’s new horizons, it helps me to reflect on the basics and to think of mobile marketing strategies in terms of push vs. pull. Remember, the push marketing strategy focuses on sending your organization’s message to the customer, whereas pull marketing allows the customer to come to you and seek out your value proposition.
These strategies are important to keep in mind as we consider how geolocation technologies, such as iBeacons, are changing mobile marketing. I appreciated what Colin Gibbs wrote in the Gigaom report “Mobile Marketing: Four Emerging Trends”: “Retailers are scrambling to deploy beacons to communicate with customers as they stroll through stores, but the market will endure some growing pains over the next two years as consumers decide what kind of messages they’ll accept as they shop.”
I think this gives marketers a healthy and realistic perspective as we move forward with early deployments and test cases. We will all experience growing pains and must be willing to continually adapt to what the data and, ultimately, our customers are telling us.
One proven way to not disappoint is to provide relevant offers. Forrester noted that Generations X, Y, and Z (18- to 48-year-olds) are “more open to sharing their location information in exchange for value in the form of offers,” whereas Generation Y (Millennials) are “most likely to expect value” based on location.
American Eagle Outfitters Offers ‘Kicks’: Push Marketing
It makes sense that many of the iBeacon’s early adopters are organizations whose primary demographic is Millennials. Millennials, as we just saw, are likely to be the most receptive to this new technology.
According to Mobile Marketer, American Eagle Outfitters recently piloted iBeacons in 100 stores among 10,000 customers. The results? “Half of the customers who walked into a store received the normal shopkick reward points, which are known as ‘kicks.’ The other half of customers received a second message offering them an opportunity to earn an additional 25 kicks—which translates to approximately 10 cents—if they visited a fitting room. The results suggest that beacons paired with an incentive can be used to encourage in-store behavior.”
Remember, as I said in my previous blog, if your beacon-triggered communications are uninteresting, annoying, or irrelevant, customers will uninstall your app. American Eagle Outfitters did just the opposite by providing interesting, relevant offers. As a result, customers accepted the retailer’s “push” and responded to the incentive. In its simplest form, this is an example of successful push marketing that can lead to increased sales and conversions.
GameStop Puts Customers In The Driver’s Seat: Pull Marketing
GameStop, another Millennial-friendly retailer, is putting the customer in the driver’s seat with its current iBeacon strategy. Instead of bombarding its customers with messages upon entering a store, “GameStop shoppers will need to take proactive steps, moving smartphones close to beacons installed on store shelving to instantly receive real-time, customized offers via the retailer's app.” According to Businesswire, this will allow the customer to “receive digital content that is specifically tailored to their areas of interest when they need it most.”
The key word and concept behind this approach is proactive. GameStop’s approach invites customers to be active instead of passive recipients. GameStop shoppers become “actors” in their own customer journey instead of “the acted upon,” or those moved around like pawns at the whims of marketers and decision-makers. It’s still too soon to tell whether this approach will work, but the theory behind it has the backing of research. As I mentioned in in the previous blog, Forrester noted that the more control you can give to the customer, the better. As marketers know, in the era of customer centricity and mobility, the customer demands control and choice more than ever before.
To date, GameStop is piloting this pull marketing strategy in approximately 36 locations in Texas. Next, hopefully, GameStop will pause and ask some relevant questions based on data and analytics: What works? What doesn’t work? How can we improve on this customer experience? Or, as I said in my previous blog, “Is this iBeacon strategy driving customers toward the shopping cart or toward the uninstall app button?”
Macy’s: Another Example Of Push Marketing
During the 2014 holiday season, Macy’s deployed 4,000 iBeacons in 800 stores across the country. I think Macy’s provides a solid example of push marketing that uses iBeacon technology. To interact with iBeacons, Macy’s customers must have the Shopkick app installed on their smartphones. So, in a sense, they’ve already taken that first, proactive step, inviting you, the organization, into their pockets and purses. The consumer has invited Macy’s into their circle of trust.
What will Macy’s do with this relationship? They will employ push marketing techniques to hopefully deliver relevant information about their products to the customer’s smartphone. As customers enter a department, a message is pushed onto the home screens of their devices. These communications will include “things like personalized department-level deals, discounts, recommendations, and rewards”—again, meeting customers in their mobile “moment of need.”
What Will You Do Once Inside The Circle?
Once inside the circle of trust, take care to use both push and pull marketing strategies to reach customers via location proximity, respond to their needs, and wow them with your insights and offers. In part 3 of this series, we’ll discuss the basics on how to get started with iBeacons.