What is a Google Beacon and should I use it for my business?
Google is introducing a new type of device that aims to help businesses that own a physical location. The idea is to make it easier for companies to mark a physical location. Still, thanks to this unique new technology, you can also take advantage of some interesting interactions.
What exactly is a Google Beacon?
A Google Beacon is essentially a tiny device powered by a battery. It sends one-way signals readable by nearby Bluetooth devices like a smartphone, a tablet or a Bluetooth dongle plugged into a laptop. The beacon’s signs can give other devices an accurate location of where it’s located.
This essentially means that it can track when certain people are close to the beacon if they have enabled their devices to detect the beacon. Apps can also tap into these signals and perform various actions based on the user sets.
An excellent example of this could be letting the beacon know that someone is within range of it. This could be connected to an attendance system that records the arrival of a person and marks them as presents, such as for an appointment or a booking. It could also display particular advertisements specific to that beacon, such as a clothes store using a beacon to show off the latest deals in their store to shoppers within walking distance.
How does a Google Beacon Help My Business?
Google Beacons are essentially made to improve the customer experience, no matter what. For example, you could create a system allowing customers to purchase something from your store through an app and a beacon. It can track where the customer is so that you know when they’ve entered your store to come and pick up the order.
Systems like this already exist, but they’re not as accurate as a Google Beacon because it uses a precise location. It’s even possible to track a customer’s site to something as small as a dinner table in a restaurant or a meeting room in a building. It’s far more precise than using existing technologies, and the possibilities are only just being uncovered.
To help you understand the advantages that Google Beacon can offer, here are some practical examples:
- A unique new way to track analytics – If you’ve been exposed to online marketing, you’ll probably understand the value of analytics. Whether tracking where your customers come from to calculate the return on investment for an advertising campaign or getting location-based data on where you get most of your customers, Google Beacon could provide your business with new analytics that will help bolster future advertising programs.
- Improve your Google Business listing – As part of the Google ecosystem, Google Beacon will be able to integrate with your Google Business listing, meaning your customers can get accurate information regarding your location, times that your shop is most popular, or even allow your customers to add to your Google Business listing with location-based photography and comments.
- More creative in-store interactions – With some creativity, you can fully automate specific systems within your store. For instance, your customers could enter your restaurant, enter some details into a machine, such as how many people are in their group, and then automatically be guided to their table. They can then use their phone to order food items and update their Google Business listing with the same system.
- Proximity-based advertising opportunities –Because Google Beacon can track customers’ location, there could be a future where your customers’ smartphones will display advertisements based on their proximity to your store. For instance, if they’re browsing the web and see an AdWords advertisement, they could get a proximity-based advertisement for a store within walking distance of their current location.
These are just a few examples of the future interactions we can expect with Google Beacons and the Google ecosystem. Thanks to the way Google Beacons can integrate with other services like Google Businesses and AdWords, we’re going to see many unique and exciting future uses for Google Beacon.
However, it’s worth mentioning that unless you program or use additional software to use Google Beacon, it won’t serve as anything more than a slight effectiveness boost for your business listing on Google. This can be achieved with other methods, and it’s not necessary to get yourself a Google Beacon unless you have plans to develop proprietary software to interact with your business workflow or until Google generates other tools for it to work with the other services they provide, such as AdWords.
How can I get a Google Beacon?
The Google Beacon is currently being tested by Google, meaning that you can’t go out and purchase one. The hardware and software are both in a beta stage, meaning it’s still being improved, and users will experience some issues. This means that the system is currently not recommended for commercial use or mission-critical purposes but can be tested thoroughly by a small group of customers or employees before deployment.
Thankfully, if you are enrolled in the program, Google will pay for all the costs, including the installation. However, you’ll likely need to program your software and tools using the API.
Some final words about Google's Beacon
Google Beacon is an emerging technology that improves on existing systems that we already use. Many people will overlook Google Beacon as a small incremental upgrade to whatever system they are currently using now, but the pinpoint accuracy of Google Beacon does give it far more versatility than other inaccurate GPS-based solutions
With a bit of experimentation and creativity, we can expect to see some interesting implementations for Google Beacon in the near future that could potentially overhaul your business’s workflow and improve your customer experience greatly.