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How to Use Big Data and Beacon Technology for Personalized Marketing

Bradley Robbins is a tech, trade, and travel writer with a lifetime of experience with North America, Europe, and Japan.


Trying to personalize marketing to individual customers is tricky. Customers are often slow to adopt new technology that doesn't have a real benefit over methods they already know. With multiple channels and beacon technology, guided by big data, your company can not only gain insight to your customers’ minds but also serve them personalized marketing. Let’s look at an example of how big data could help a store better market to its customers.


Big Data

One of the easiest ways to understand how customers shop is to use big data. Understanding customer intentions through big data is done by about half of businesses, but only about 20 percent design their customer experience around the data. A Rutgers University study found that 69 percent of businesses used data analytics to give them a better ability to make strategic decisions, and 52 percent said it gave them better insight into customers.


Tracking Customers

Let’s use an example of tracking customers through a store. By tracking their phone, you can understand how a certain customer moves through your store. How long do they stay in a specific area? What items are they looking at? Are they comparing products, or do they have favorite products they purchase regularly?

By analyzing this data, you can use predictive analytics. Where are they likely to go in the store in a given trip? What are they likely to buy? How do you collect the data, and what can you do with the collected information? One way to answer these questions is using a beacon to collect data.

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Small, location-based electronic transmitters, beacons can connect via Bluetooth to mobile devices, like smartphones or tablets. They can identify phones within their range, usually between 1 foot and 55 yards, and can then send personalized messages.

The beacons themselves can also collect tracking data, which can help answer our earlier questions. They can capture in-store behavior such as favorite products and locations; dwell times in certain areas of the store, giving a heat map; walking patterns that can help retailers redesign store layouts; and even birthday information.

These messages, based on the tracking data collected earlier, can be a coupon for a specific product they might regularly purchase, a new product, or something the AI analyzing the data predicts they might enjoy. If the customer is looking for a certain product, the beacon can help them locate it as well.

A beacon near the front of the store can send a personalized greeting as the customer enters. It can push personalized messages and coupons to an app. If it’s a chain store, and they are not at their regular store, it can provide the locations of the customer’s regular items, allowing information to travel with them.

Channels and the Future

Looking to the future, big data and beacons can push to even more channels, giving a business an omnichannel presence. Imagine using predictive analysis to push a VR-enabled preview of a new item to a customer so that they could interact with the new product in virtual reality, see if they like it, and then drop by the store to pick up the real thing. A coupon could be pushed with the preview.

Brands using a multichannel approach see a 19 percent growth in their ROI, and continuous personalization through multiple channels sees a staggering 500 percent increase in consumer spending. Even with just a single channel, customers are 75 percent more likely to take advantage of an offer if it is personalized.

Another option might be automatic preemptive ordering of a product when the customer runs out. An internet of things-enabled refrigerator can communicate with a local grocery store that has logged a customer’s repeat visits, and automatically order items either for pickup or delivery, sending a message when it’s ready.

Even now, beacons and cameras are used in conjunction in Amazon’s brick-and-mortar store to track purchases and automatically bill a customer’s account. There are no checkout stands.

If you can make use of relevant data to feed to an AI, your marketing campaign can be personalized, and pushed to individual devices, welcoming returning customers with coupons and directions to their favorite products. Customers have shown they respond positively to such efforts, increasing their spending and your ROI.

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