This column is the second in an 11-part series. Check back for the remainder of the series and a deep dive into each of these trends.
With 2016 just around the corner, it's the right time to consider emerging marketing trends that could benefit your company's growth strategy.
Right at the top of the list of emerging trends is the explosion of proximity marketing, which is a form of geo-targeted marketing that leverages beacon technology.
So what is a beacon? It's a device -- smaller than an egg -- that uses Bluetooth to communicate with an app on your cell phone when your phone enters a particular radius of that beacon. Here's a practical example. Let's say you walk into your favorite sports venue, and as you do, a message pops up on your phone encouraging you to check in on social media or visit the venue's Facebook page for a chance to win tickets. When your phone entered the beacon's radius, it directed an app on your phone to send you that message.
Due in large part to the increased affordability of the technology, beacons programs are being used by nearly half of retailers this year, according to Retail Touchpoints, up from just 15 percent last year. Another sizeable bump is expected in 2016. Retail sales driven from beacon technology are projected to hit $44 billion in 2016, according to Business Insider Report, up from just 4 billion this year.
Retailers are flocking to beacon programs in part because Ninth Decimal reports 61 percent of shoppers prefer to receive in-store offers versus having to research and bring coupons with them. What's more, 82 percent of customers make purchase decisions in-aisle. But it's not just retailers that stand to gain; any business or attraction with significant foot traffic can benefit, as companies large and small are realizing. Industries where the technology is prevalent include hospitality, tourism, entertainment and even healthcare.
Beacons have the ability to target messaging to highly refined geographic spaces. For example, retailers can place multiple beacons on each aisle, prompting shoppers with various offers once they enter those zones. So if you're walking down the gaming aisle at your favorite electronics retailer this holiday season, you could receive an offer for the latest gaming system.
The only real consequential barrier to entry, with this technology, is that you must have a mobile app with real value that your customers are motivated to download. Once they download the app, the lines of communication are then open. Given how aggressively the app market is growing, this will no doubt further drive popularity in beacon programs.
If you have significant foot traffic in your business, consider beacon technology to allow for highly customized, relevant messages to those consumers.
Lori Turner-Wilson can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.