How to maximize live experiences with beacons: 10 Tips

Blending the physical and digital brand experience is on the cutting edge of what’s happening in experiential marketing these days. From virtual reality and motion activated games to augmented reality and the internet of things, marketers are discovering new and exciting ways to amplify a consumer’s physical experience with the assistance of fun technologies.

Among many of the options out there, amplifying the experience using a consumer's smartphone makes a lot of sense. Today’s apps are able to deliver content and information directly to an event attendee’s phone when they physically enter different spaces.

Over the last 3 years my company has been using a location based event app developed for an automotive client. The custom branded app uses geofencing and beacons to identify where a consumer is located and sends messages, content, games and other fun stuff as they move about the event site.

For example, when a person using the app gets into a display vehicle, their phone will receive a notification with a welcome message and options to view a spec sheet or explore a digital car configuration tool. Users can also get access to exclusive VIP activities like secret autograph sessions, get event information and play along in a virtual scavenger hunt games to win prizes.

Location based apps are pretty cool, but like any new technology, how you deploy and use it can make or break the success of the effort. Over the years we experimented with a variety of tactics and ideas to maximize impact of our location based app. We’ve learned a few things along the way, and I’m happy to share our top 10 tips for those exploring a similar technology:

1) Create the event with tech in mind

Location based apps can help or hinder an experience. So plan out how they will be used early on. You’ll want to make sure triggers (locations) and the resulting content delivered (what the phone does) gives the users a beneficial experience.

2) Think beyond the display space

With geofencing, you can send additional messages or content to nearly any predetermined area across the globe. So think about welcome messages as event goers enter the venue or coupons when they are near a store.

3) Make it fun and easy to use

Like that old adage K.I.S.S.; the app must be easy for users to download and understand how to use. Content and messages are cool and all, but remember that games make using the app fun and will lengthen engagement.

4) Incentivize downloads

One of the largest challenges with this, or any branded app, is simply getting people to download it. Offer a carrot to help increase downloads.

5) Take advantage of pre-event engagement

Encourage consumers to download the app before the event happens. Use this as an opportunity to offer special incentives to download, exclusive content to early downloaders or even discounted parking information.

6) Deliver personalized + relevant content

Send consumers information to compliment their immediate environment. For example, event goers could receive a code to redeem free product when they are near a branded vending machine.

7) Deploy real people to assist consumers

Unfortunately technology doesn’t replace human interaction. When real people help educate event goers about the app, that is why they should download it and how to use it, their likelihood to use and enjoy the app drastically increases.

8) Communicate in real time

Keeping with the relevant and personalized content theme, plan to send messages that resonate in the moment. For example, send updates about activities happening at the event in real time or offer prizes to incentivize them to return to your event site.

9) Don’t forget post-event engagement

Always thank them for visiting and design future triggers for the app should they enter a predetermined location like a store or restaurant.

10) Use beacons and fences to uncover data

The real benefit of location based apps isn’t just for consumers. Reviewing the data from one or numerous events can be very enlightening. Gain better insights on what products or locations people spent the most time with, which games and incentives work better than others and analyze participant demographic information.