American Marketer


Regaining consumer attention for retailer apps through beacon marketing

October 15, 2014

Michael Trepeta is co-CEO of Mobiquity Networks Michael Trepeta is co-CEO of Mobiquity Networks


By Michael Trepeta

The naysayers will tell you that consumers download mobile applications, only to use many of them a few times when initially installed and never again.

The statistics show that the majority of smartphone owners have go-to apps. Forty-two percent of all app time spent on smartphones occurs on an individual’s single-most-used app, according to the comScore U.S. Mobile App Report that charts activity through June.

Further, nearly three out of every four minutes of app usage occurs on one of the individual’s top four apps.

But who is to say that all of the other apps downloaded are deemed disposable? Perhaps it is more out-of-sight, out-of-mind for some.

This issue is especially important to retailers as we get closer to the holiday season. Why? The coming months account for up to 40 percent of a retailer's annual revenue, according to ExactTarget.

Shining light
You likely have read about beacons, which are small, inexpensive pieces of hardware that transmit a unique identifying signal to a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device in the area. More marketers are going in this direction, with more than 50 percent of mobile marketers expecting to run beacon programs by 2015.

What is less known, and perhaps the most important, is that retailers and brands have the ability through beacons to draw attention back to previously dormant retailer apps at precisely the time when a consumer is shopping.

It works this way. The mobile user does not have to have the app open for communications via beacons to reach him or her.

In fact, if a consumer agreed to receive messages from a brand or retailer or publisher, he or she will get a local notification when in proximity of a beacon that has been associated with that particular app.

Then a brand or retailer can entice the shopper with an offer or other incentive to open the app, visit the store, and spend money there.

There is nothing else like it for getting in front of a consumer who may have been too busy or distracted to open a previously downloaded app.

Beacons have caught on because they enable retailers, brands and publishers to provide real value to consumers in a permission-based program.

When done with the best interests of opted-in consumers in mind:

• Marketers can enhance customer interaction by providing localized, relevant content

• Mobile campaigns can be managed and measured through access to real-time, detailed customer data

• Businesses can experience an increase in customer app use, leading to customer loyalty

• Beacons can play an important role in completing the omnichannel customer profile – delivering an understanding of in-mall and in-store activity

Walk the talk
Many beacon programs are retailer-specific. Fewer give brands access to consumers in common areas.

Here is an example of a potential customer journey in Simon Malls, which has partnered with a beacon network provider to deploy beacons in common areas:

Entry: Customers walk into a mall common area. Entering a beacon “region” initiates the engagement process.

Messaging: Contact with a mall entry beacon could trigger customizable messaging, simply welcoming customers to the mall, providing useful information or present an enticing offer. Importantly, this messaging can happen whether or not the app is running.

Campaign: Once engaged with the app, customers view a brand or retailer’s campaign content that is displayed. Content can be customized based on customer location, demographics or geo-behavioral attributes.

Entering a store: When customers enter a store after receiving real-time, localized campaign, in-store beacons enable direct campaign traffic attribution.

Exit: As customers exit a store/mall area, beacon signals provide another opportunity for engagement that, when used appropriately, can increase shopper loyalty.

Deployed creatively and in concert, apps plus beacons provide a powerful opportunity for retailers and brands to connect with their fans in a highly personalized way.

The best applications of this emerging technology will overlay an app’s awareness of its user’s preferences with the insights that a beacon network can provide about the user’s immediate environment to deliver truly customized experiences in real-time.

Compelling results are here today. Hence, more retailers and brands are moving from testing to full deployments rolled out to get highly desired business results–increased sales and loyalty being the outcome.

Another key to realizing the potential of beacon technology will be the ability of advertisers to deploy campaigns at scale, which is critical to make it practical to compete for the advertising budgets of traditional media spends such as television, radio and print.

The first experiments with beacons in retail have entailed individual store implementations.

Wide adoption by the advertising industry will require a national network of beacons that has the potential to engage with hundreds of millions of users in relevant locations.

And if, through beacons, a brand or retailer can reconnect an interested mobile user with an out-of-sight mobile app, sales and loyalty will follow.

Michael Trepeta is co-CEO of Mobiquity Networks, Garden City, NY. Reach him at