Digital wallets, such as Passbook, are key to effectively use beacon push notifications

The premise of beacon technology has created a big buzz amongst marketers, who see the potential of a more personalisation and relevant customer targeting. However, it’s important they understand and exercise with caution how to use beacons in order not to be invasive and also to have the ability to create relevant, contextualize and personalised content.

Leveraging location-based technology will undoubtedly lead to a closer, more personal relationship in the way brands communicate to their customers. It presents a win-win situation for both brands and customers, as marketers can see better results from their campaigns and customers can get more relevant offers to their own tastes and likes.

However, some consumers, worry about privacy issues when brands can directly send messages to their phones and can also feel annoyed by too many push notifications or by the ones that are not relevant to them.

Positioning beacons in-store can counteract some of these issues, by taking advantage of the customer’s location for a more beneficial situation. Customer interactions with beacons will normally only happen after downloading a Passbook Pass or having a specific App, meaning there is already an opt-in by the consumer. Nevertheless, over-targeting, being too personal or sending to many push notifications can drive the customer’s to delete the Pass or uninstall the App.

The quantity and types of push notifications comes down to good judgement (common sense) and ultimately, thinking from the customer’s point of view about whether you would respond well to those specific messages. Research by Punchtab revealed that 88% would be willing to use location-based technology if it mean they would receive special offers or coupons. So, it´s key to provide value to the customer, giving him a good reason to be contacted.

Combining Digital Wallets, such as Passbook, with beacons are perfect for in-store push notification to easily allow customers to obtain passes and influence their in-store activity, with the goal of encouraging them to make a purchase. The seamless process of adding a pass on the go into the smartphone is becoming part of the future, and of how we shop with taking advantage of smartphones and digital wallets.

Passworks Loyalty Card Use Case

Introducing a loyalty card program and campaign has always been an effective way to increase sales whilst adding value for customers.

The paper and stamp is no longer the most efficient means to offer a loyalty card. Likewise the burden of carrying that tattered bit of paper, hidden away in a wallet hardly gives off the impression of offering good customer service. Even plastic loyalty cards, take up space in the wallet and don’t offer any interaction and engagement with the customer’s smartphone.

However, switching from the paper version to a safer, more convenient and relevant digital version is a more viable option for consumers whose smartphones are already heavily incorporated in to their daily lives. Through Passbook, Google Wallet or other wallet, it’s now easy to store multiple loyalty cards in one App to be used whenever you’re in your favourite stores.

Digital loyalty cards facilitate the whole process of acquiring points or stamps, storing them and then obtaining any rewards or free products. Stamps or points are added via the smartphone’s camera which scans the QR code of a tent card or poster kept behind the counter of a store. A member of staff then types in pre-determined information such as a username and password to verify the action and clicks a button on their system to send the updated points to the customer’s phone. The loyalty card is then automatically updated to show the changes to the customer’s balance.

Once the customer has gained a reward the QR code on the card is changed, allowing them to obtain their free item. The pass is then updated to return back to the start position or the necessary points are removed from the customer’s balance.

The luxury of storing a loyalty card in Passbook or Google Wallet is that it can be used alongside other digital wallet features, to allow the customer to get the best value and use out of a store’s technology. For example, a digital wallet enables you to obtain a coupon offer and then switch to the loyalty card to add points or gain a stamp, all in the same place, in a seamless process, saving time and energy.

What iBeacon Technology Can Offer to Retailers

The unique features of iBeacon truly offer the ability to revolutionise retailers’ in-store experience, by allowing a better understand of customers’ path, real-time interaction with their customers, which represents a huge potential to engage in new products and offers to increase sales. But automatically there are two questions that arise.

The first question is what is an iBeacon and how it works? Beacons are Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices, that work as small indoor positioning systems, to send information to nearby smart devices. In the case of a smartphone that information is delivered via the brand’s App or through Passbook, and then displayed as a push-notification on a pre-subscribed user’s screen.

This enables retailers to send-up-to date, contextualized and relevant information to a customer depending on their exact location in the store and based on their behaviour.

For example, imagine you’re in a department store that sells a vast range of products, each time you walk past each section and are near that particular beacon you’ll might get a different message on your phone, be it promoting a new line of clothes or a discount on French wine etc.

The second question that needs to be asked by the retailers is ‘What can Beacons offer to my customers?’ The answer to this question is very simple; Facilitate and improve their in-store shopping experience. iBeacons offer a cost-effective way to efficiently engage with customers on a platform they are familiar with, their smartphone.

These days, the smartphone goes everywhere with the customer and it’s already integrated into their shopping habits, particularly as many major retail brands offer an App to browse and buy all their products. According to a research carried out by Swirl, 85% of those who own a mobile shopping App use it whilst shopping in a store. Furthermore, 65% of them said they consult their smartphone whilst in a store to find out about products and offers. This means, that through the smartphone, retailers already have a ready-made platform to attract their customers’ attention, and a push notification from an iBeacon is one of the best ways to do that.

The benefits of this technology for both retailer and customer are endless, and the possibility to create more interaction between the two is one that can even bring more trust and build the relationship, whilst allowing the retailer to reap the rewards of offering them better service.

Finding the right equilibrium to make the best use of iBeacons is crucial. In the case of normal push-notifications, the balance of sending the right amount to users is a difficult thing for brands to gauge. However, with real-time location-based push-notifications, retailers can send information to customers at a time when they actually want to find out more about product offers, and best of all, since they are already in-store means they are in the perfect place to act on those messages and buy products.

iBeacon can also work side-by-side with a store’s existing technology, to give retailers a way to better understand their customer’s behaviours, tastes and needs, whilst offering them a more personal shopping experience.

For example, when iBeacons’ push-notifications are used in conjunction with the store’s App and existing CRM platforms, retailers have the ability to tailor the messages they send out to specific customer group.

How it works is that when the customer’s smartphone receives the information from the iBeacon, prompting the App to send a push notifications, the store’s system can also be notified who it is that has entered the store. Automatically, the staff working at that time will, have access to important information, such as purchase history or what tastes and prefer products that customer has. Likewise the message sent out by the iBeacon, could be totally personalized and can be sent only to a particular group of shoppers and thereby maximise the exposure of certain products to the right target group.

Summarising, iBeacons represent a neat and effective way for retailers to better understand and get closer to their customers by enabling them to easier access contextualized and relevant offers, and thereby increasing sales.

 

 

How social media can boost a Mobile Marketing campaign using Passbook

Social media will continue to be one of the key drivers in the customer-brand relationship in 2015. Brands need to effectively leverage this tool as part of their overall marketing strategy but need to be aware that primary emphasis should be on creating better customer support.

Brand interaction with customers, in recent years, has seen a shift away from traditional channels, as people have gradually looked for alternatives to the way large corporations typically communicate. Instead, the modern consumer needs to be dealt with in more personable, personalize, human tones, making it essential that all companies have a social media outlet for quick, open communications with customers.

Current consumers are savvier and will quickly catch on to when a brand’s marketing ploy looks too much like spam. However, if you give that customer high quality content or good value, they will be much more reciprocal and feel more appreciated at the attempt to reach out to them.

A social media referral campaign has huge potential to turn customers into brand ambassadors, as happy customers are powerful assets for any business. The traditional word of mouth is still as effective as ever but in today’s world on top of verbally telling someone, people will share a product with their friends via social media. Research shows that consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on a social media referral. The potential there is obvious!

A Passbook campaign is ideal in creating an effective social media referral, as it offers great value to customers whilst rewarding them for sharing the Pass with a friend.

 

The mobile coupon could be shared and used by anyone. Customers are incentivised to access a Pass by sharing it with a certain amount of friends, thus increasing awareness of your brand and maximising exposure to products thereby creating new customers.

In the coming years we will see more uses of digital mobile wallets and beacons to facilitate customers’ experiences and provide brands an outlet to offer them more relevant content. Utilising social media for real-time communications will be key, but also important will be the ‘shareability’ of a brand’s products and whether they can effectively utilise social media to enhance and boost marketing campaigns.

Showtime’s innovative use of Passbook

Showtime’s recent use of mobile wallets to promote their new show, has demonstrated the innovative ways brands can utilize the mobile space and has widened the potential to use a pass as more than just a place to store coupons or tickets.

US TV network Showtime are using both Apple’s Passbook and Google Wallet to promote their new show ‘Penny Dreadful’ by creating a fan pass, a digital wallet pass that updates fans of the show when new content is available.

Shotime's use of Passbook

This new take on the uses of a digital is an ingenious way to give fans of the show effective, real time content without the need to create an app that would be impractical for both Showtime and its users. Best of all for the user, as an extra pass in a digital wallet it takes up no additional space on the user’s smartphone.

The practical nature of adding and deleting a pass to a digital wallet is what makes it ideal for storing promotional passes for a short amount of time, i.e. for promoting a movie or new product. In order to get updates about that product a user simply has to add a pass via an email or web link, use it when they want and then delete it when they no longer need it.

The dynamic features of a digital wallet pass can then be utilised by the brand or company to update it with content whenever necessary, including push notifications on the user’s lock screen. There is even scope to use geo-location technology to interact with the dynamic pass, as Showtime are considering doing, via a push notification whenever the user passes the ‘Penny Dreadful’ billboard.

There really is genuine potential for marketers to be creative and use a digital wallet pass as a multi-purpose informational source, as a communication tool, deployed in any way a brand might want in order to get quick, relevant promotions out to their customers.

The Benefits of Apple Passbook for Brands

Passbook offers brands a significant opportunity to drive engagement with customers and increase store foot traffic through one convenient app.

Passbook is an app native to Apple devices, pre-installed on all operating systems that run iOS 6 or later. The essential premise is one place to store coupons, event tickets, loyalty cards and the like, but more than just being a digital wallet, it also represents huge marketing potential for brands.

The fact that Passbook is a default app means a target audience already exist that are accustomed to using it. In the US Passbook is already the 4th most popular mobile commerce app and a fifth of all iPhone users already use it to download coupons. Furthermore, with over 300 million iPhones around the world and all future devices set to have Passbook installed, the wide range of users that brands can reach is vast.

The convenience of having all a wallet’s non-payment aspects in one app is beneficial to both brand and customer. For example, the easier access to both coupons and loyalty cards allows brands to offer their customers a seamless interchange between the two whilst increasing sales and providing better customer service.

Location-based notifications enhance the dynamic features of a Passbook pass allowing brands to send updated information to their customer’s phone via push notifications, which highlights the potential to refine marketing strategies with more personalised, relevant offers. Apple’s iBeacon technology has already paved the way for geolocation to play a key role in brand to customer interaction.

Incorporating Passbook passes into a brand’s existing mobile marketing strategy has been shown to boost sales and increase coupon conversion rates, with 64% higher conversions compared to regular mobile web coupons. It also provides a totally different platform to a brand’s app, as consumers don’t want to fill their phones with apps for every different shop or restaurant, and require a simpler, more expedient way of utilising their smartphone whilst in-store.

Crucially for smaller brands, Passbook doesn’t need an app to work alongside it, as passes can be added straight to it via email or SMS. This opens up the barriers to entry, enabling brands with smaller resources to have a cost-effective way to offer their customers mobile content and drive up sales. However, there are also Passbook-enabled apps which prompt you to add a pass straight to Passbook allowing both to work in conjunction together.

Apple’s latest updates to iOS7 have made Passbook even more brand and user-friendly with features such as a barcode scanner allowing passes to be easily added on-the-go by scanning a QR and a share icon on the pass. These features make Passbook more accessible, ultimately helping to increase brand loyalty by allowing maximum exposure of a pass.

Virtual Wallets and How to Use Them

Why Bricks-and-Mortar Stores Need to Embrace the Mobile

Bricks-and-mortar businesses have been losing ground on their online counterparts for years now as they are undercut by cheaper prices and more convenience for consumers. However, one advantage they can offer customers is the unique experience of having a physical location to display products and an opportunity to interact with staff.

The growing competition from online retailers means that the in-store experience and general customer service has never been more important for brick-and-mortar stores. Offering the consumer a seamless, interactive mobile experience is a vital way to do that.

In this digital age, where the smartphone is playing an increasingly significant role in influencing consumers’ spending habit, it’s essential that brands meet the high standards that their customers now expect of them. Digital wallets and close-proximity marketing are undoubtedly going to be part of the future of the customer-retailer in-store experience.

Making use of a dynamic mobile wallet pass has the potential to offer consumers a omni-channel retail experience that they desire. The many features of a digital wallet, including coupons and loyalty cards, allow the customer to incorporate their smartphone in to their shopping habits, whilst providing them value and creating brand loyalty.

The emergence of ibeacon technology which can be used in conjunction with mobile wallets, further underlines the potential to offer better, more relevant in-store experiences for customers and increases store traffic by enticing customers in to the store.

As a result of better access to a wider range of products and easy price comparison, the shift of power has switched to the consumer, as old-fashioned brand loyalty is disappearing, but for bricks-and-mortar stores embracing the changing nature of shopping habits is a must, with smartphone usage at the forefront.

 

First we had brick-and-mortar stores, then transactions moved online, and now Joe Pergola, vice president of sales and marketing at POS software and hardware provider AccuPOS, says location is even less important with the latest mobile payment options. “The museum gift shop eventually will have an event outside in the courtyard, and they want to bring some merchandise outside and sell it,” he offers as an example.

You can read more about Online Payments: Money Goes Mobile here.

The Growth and Rise of Mobile Wallets – Apple’s Passbook and Google Wallet

The current mobile wallet evolution is being fronted by Apple’s Passbook and Google Wallet with the ultimate goal of replacing physical wallets in favour of the smartphone. Both versions of mobile wallet offer roughly the same service, with a few variations.

Passbook and Google Wallet’s main features are storing passes, i.e. coupons, loyalty cards, boarding passes, cinema tickets, basically anything that used to be a piece of paper in your wallet, can now be kept safely in your smartphone. The principal concept is having one place on your phone to store everything you need.

Apple’s Passbook, launched in September 2012, is seen as the pioneer of using digital wallets to store loyalty cards and coupons, of which Starbuck’s was one its first brands. Although the app came out after Google’s, it’s path was clearly defined as a place to store passes rather than offer any form of payment.

Passbook is a native app, pre-installed in all iPhones, meaning that it only runs on Apple products and only those that run on iOS 6 system or later. One key feature of Passbook is that it enables iBeacon technology to offer geo-trigger push-notifications to iPhone users, which for example enables retailers to offer relevant, updated offers to customers whilst they are in their store. The iBeacon feature is something which Google are still in the process of developing.

The newest feature that Apple has added to iOS 7 system is a QR code scanner, used via the phone’s camera which allows the user to add mobile wallet content on-the-go. These passes can either be used as a digital pass or printed out to be used in-store.

Google Wallet’s journey to its current stage has been slightly different. Initially Google Wallet started as an online payment, Google’s answer to PayPal if you like, but the concept never took off and in September 2013 they moved to include the non-payment side, i.e. coupons, loyalty points, boarding passes etc. Google Wallet app that can run on any Android device with Android 2.3 or later and can even run on iPhones iOS 6.

In May 2013 Google rekindled their ambition to use Google Wallet as a payment alternative but this time by integrating it with Gmail enabling users to send money to anyone over the age of eighteen who has a Gmail account. Further in keeping with this idea Google have also introduced a quicker way to make online payments via the ‘Buy with Google’ button, allowing anyone with a Google Wallet account to make purchases on mobile apps and sites in only two clicks

As an extension of the app Google also now offer a physical debit card to go along with your Google Wallet app, which enables you to use its NFC (Near Filed Communication) technology to make one-tap payments.

Nevertheless, the whole Google Wallet service is still only available in the US, with no clear indication of when it will arrive in Europe. In contrast, Passbook has been available in Europe since its launch. Nevertheless, with the Android operating system being used on over 50% of current smartphone users’ phones, Google offer marketers access to a broader audience than Apple can. Therefore expect to see more retailers and brands incorporate Google’s mobile wallet technology in to their marketing plans in order to further create engagement and loyalty in their customer base, and ultimately increase sales.

There’s a clear distinction then that Google aim to incorporate their digital wallet as part of their wider plans of facilitating online payments for their users, whilst Apple’s Passbook is focused more on the non-payment side, solely being a place to store all the necessities of your wallet without making payments.

However with the launch of Apple Pay in October 2014, the in-store experience changed for retailers and consumers. Not only loyalty card are stored within mobile phones, the payment is made through NFC (Near Field Communication), a technology built-in iPhones. This means that the consumer only uses his smartphone to connect all services on the same mobile interaction. Adding the fact that Apple has already several major partnerships with major credit card services such as Visa, American Express, banks and retailers, this translates in a huge advantage for Apple.

iBeacon technology provides a glance in to the near future

Very soon we will see more machine-to-machine (M2M) communications between connected devices, allowing technology to create more efficiency and further improving our lives. iBeacons provide an insight in to the near future of that interconnected world of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Retail stores, airports and sporting events to name a few have already demonstrated why there is so much hype about the potential of ibeacons and the innovative ways it’s enhancing our mobile experiences, including more relevant, personalised marketing efforts and more effective ways of communicating with the public at events.

Apple’s release of their iBeacon functionality paved the way for a new way of looking a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and unleashed the premise of using beacons in conjunction with smartphones, especially for digital wallets.

iBeacons are a great example of how IoT will function with cheap, low energy devices interacting with smartphones or tablets to bring ordinary objects or locations to life, intrinsically linking the digital and physical worlds together. Furthermore, the easy accessibility of obtaining information from a beacon makes them ideal for use alongside smartphones, with a simple but effective push-notification being the preferred current method of relaying info or sending coupons.

Large companies from Major League Baseball to Virgin Airlines have led the way in adopting beacons, but it’s in retail that many are predicting it to have the most influence, especially in customer spending with Juniper Research suggesting there will be over 1bn mobile coupon users by 2019, highlighting the importance of digital wallets such as Apple’s Passbook or Google Wallet in the mobile marketing sphere.

The current use cases of ibeacons is just the tip of the iceberg in its own future potential and that of the IoT which will create a world linked by internet-connected devices, which in turn will create more productivity for all.