What exactly is proximity marketing?

Proximity marketing involves targeting potential consumers with personalized advertisement. Ads are delivered based on how near a consumer (or device) is to a specific location and enticing them to make a purchasing decision in the immediate future. Proximity-based marketing with beacons using Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE, is gathering incredible momentum in the market. Research indicates that consumers are highly motivated to participate.


What are the 3 must-haves for proximity marketing?

Proximity marketing with beacons involves setting up a bluetooth enabled mobile device at a particular spot. Devices that pass within the range of the beacon can receive information in the form of text, images or video via the respective mobile app. There are a number of must-haves required to employ this marketing technique. They are:

  • Bluetooth enabled mobile device – the consumer should be using a Bluetooth enabled mobile device at the location where the proximity marketing technique is being applied

  • Beacon – a low-cost, low-powered transmitter equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE (also called Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth Smart). The beacon that can be used to deliver proximity-based, context-aware messages

  • Targeted Consumer – should have downloaded the relevant mobile application and installed it on his or her phone that is capable of receiving push notifications.

Using beacons wisely, retailers will be able to play the part of a gracious, individually attentive host, combining the user’s interests, intent and physical location.


How proximity marketing works.

Once the business owner deploys a beacon in the spot chosen for promotion, the communication occurs in 3 quick steps. They are:

  1. Device detection: A Beacon scans for bluetooth enabled mobile devices in its proximity range while it broadcasts its ID number (which is unique to a particular beacon in that location) at regular intervals. The proximity-aware mobile app will  also carry a list of ID numbers of all the beacons that have been activated and will associate them with their location. Once the device matches a beacon’s ID with the ID held in the proximity-aware mobile app, it lets the app know that the beacon is nearby.
  2. Permission request: For each bluetooth enabled mobile device detected within the proximity range of the beacon, it will send requests to consumers seeking permission to communicate with their mobile device.
  3. Content upload: Once the consumer grants permission, depending on how the app has been configured, it will then notify the consumer with an alert on the lock-screen, displaying the corresponding message. Tapping on the message opens the app, at a screen displaying personalized marketing messages including text, images, audio and video about products found at that spot chosen for promotion or a complementary product found one aisle away.

The possibilities with proximity marketing are endless. It can be used in real state sales and home builder’s show homes, museums and zoos, car dealerships, coffee shops and restaurants. Any business or institution that needs to reach out to the public when they are on premise, can use proximity marketing to boost its presence.

As proximity marketing gains momentum and moves beyond trial stages, we will see brands go on to use beacons to gather a rich collection of consumer data which in turn will enable brands to communicate better with their customers resulting in a positive impact on the bottom line.