Bluetooth Beacons for Marketing

As I released my Android app Mobile Photo Guide I was considering multiple marketing approaches. I read several articles on Bluetooth Low Energy beacon technology and URL broadcasting to target customers. It sounded convincing as my target segment are tourists who just arrived to Scotland. I saw the article Google Beacons: Proximity Marketing is Ready to Take Off in 2019 that was very promising too.

I decided to do a real world test in order to prove the technology. Eddystone URL was the technology I wanted to try. I came across the BeaconSimulator Android app that allows you to create create Eddystone URL beacon. You need to have a supported device, but I was fortunately lucky.

As a receiver I used Physical Web iPhone app. This app was mainly used as a proof the beacon works as expected. The last thing was to track if anyone clicked / used the beacon URL. I leveraged famous Bit.ly URL shortener service that allows you to track clicks on the link.

My hypothesis was that during busy streets of Edinburgh due to the festival I would inevitable come across at least one user who has device / technology that supports the protocol and they will eventually receive a URL notification. Physical Web app did automatic URL expansion that was visible as click in Bit.ly.

I left my beacon broadcasting for over 3 hours, but had no success whatsoever. I believe an entry point for customer to receive a token is not easy at all and is not provided out of the box by devices which prevents the usability of the beacon technology. I think the use of beacons make sense for existing customers or as an expansion of geolocation capabilities of your application. As a marketing tool for new customers I would rather recommend QR codes as they are widely supported by devices out-of-the-box.