New technologies such as beacons, NFC tagging and wearables are rapidly becoming powerful tools for the B2C sector. It’s not just consumers that can benefit from these technologies. When used in a strategic, innovative way, these technologies herald many opportunities for B2B marketers too, especially when used at events.
Events have always been one of the best ways for a company to market itself to other companies. At the moment, one challenge with events is that, as people walk around, the second they stop near a stand, they can be bombarded by sales people. This can be seriously off putting in any environment, especially if they are wanting to carry out research before speaking to the company.
Beacons are an opportunity to improve this. As an attendee, not only do they make the arduous process of registration more fluid, but also mean that if you are near a stand, and want more information, you can get it – without having to search for it or ask for it. When implemented via an event app, beacons activate the right content, at the right time. One advantage here is that companies can provide people with information they may want, or allow them to book meetings at a later, more convenient time.
If used properly at events, beacons could be used to help prove ROI and identify interested targets, based on the number of times someone has looked at the stand, the time they’ve spent near or on the stand and other useful metrics.
A small scale example of this was put into action at Samsung’s Futurescape Retail event. MiBeacons created an app that utilised beacons to trigger different content as B2B customers walked around its innovation showcase environment. The content was linked to the different products being displayed to provide additional context. Though this was an intimate event, it meant that visitors could get additional context, especially if representatives from the various technology providers were busy.
As visitors were handed a device as they arrived and encouraged to enter their details, the app was able to understand which products or companies people were most interested in. This meant that in the follow up from the event, Samsung had the ability to be more targeted in its approach.
In a further example, Misys, the financial technology company, wanted to educate employees about its new branding. Placing beacons in 10 of its global offices, the company created an interactive experience where beacons trigger different content, about the new brand, as employees moved around.
Outside of this, a company that is using beacons, NFC and wearables can use the technology to improve operations and efficiencies, which B2B marketers can then use as marketing collateral and a USP.
However there are certain areas companies and marketers need to be aware of, before mass beacon deployment. The biggest danger is that people won’t have the devices to interact with the new technologies. With beacons, users need to have a device that features Bluetooth 4.0 and supports Bluetooth Low Energy. If you were to try to use it at a show where the audience preliminary had BlackBerry devices, for example, it wouldn’t really work.
Fortunately, with BlackBerry’s UK market share at 0.8%, the likelihood is that visitors would have the right device, especially if they are a business audience.
Other considerations worth taking into account are that the target user needs to have the right app installed on their device and Bluetooth to be turned on. Marketers will need to consider how to encourage users to have the app downloaded – which will ultimately come down to how much value it brings to the user. They will also have to take into account the cost of developing the app for iOS and Android, which use different source codes.
Marketers should also be aware that simply triggering notifications whenever a user walks past a beacon will not benefit their cause – creating irritation. Users can easily turn their Bluetooth off, or even worse still, remove the app altogether. Generally speaking, unless a company is organising the event itself and has control over the whole experience, it is the events company that would supply the app. Here the question becomes what can be driven into the app and how to best present that to visitors.
The power of beacons is around using customer focused data to provide context to physical spaces and present notifications with intelligent and targeted information. Marketers therefore need to think about the user experience and take responsibility for adding value, rather than adding noise.