Commercial advertisers usually have a leg up on campaigns when it comes to the latest tech trends but one bleeding edge could hold a unique opportunity for candidates seeking a competitive advantage.
Beacons, which use Bluetooth technology to broadcast data to a designated smartphone app in close proximity, have been used in retail for about two years and are now beginning to gain traction beyond the storefront.
One burgeoning opportunity is in live events. For instance, South by Southwest (SXSW) deployed 1,000 beacons in Austin this year to add a digital layer of experience for attendees. For those who downloaded the media and music convention’s SXSW Go app, updates, contests, directional information and content was sent directly to their smartphones. In return, SXSW got data to mine and potentially re-market.
One of the most impressive things about beacons is their open rate. One study found the content beacons send out to smartphones garners an open rate between 60-80 percent. What digital team wouldn’t love to have that metic?
In fact, beacons represent a big-ticket opportunity for campaigns to reach a younger, tech savvy audience with a fundraising pitch during a live event. The beacon can send out a link or SMS text code that directs supporters how to donate. Fundraising at conventions and rallies is nothing new, but this is potentially a way to make it quicker, easier and more mobile. The data that comes with a supporter’s opt in is an added bonus.
Another benefit is that you can, on the fly, change the content that the beacons put out. If you’re a candidate campaigning in a low-income area, you can push information about what your policies are on the issue of poverty. Later, if you go speak to a well-heeled fundraiser crowd, you give them something different. But your digital team needs to be clever with the campaign’s messaging.
Frequency, timing and content all need to be fine-tuned. You’re asking supporters to opt in so you don’t want to overdo it with messages inside of the venue just because you have a captive audience.
Don’t just tell them to vote for the candidate, give them exclusive, insider information. Make the messages as sexy as you can because the person can opt out at any time.
While this technology sounds sophisticated, it’s already become quite cheap. You can get a standard beacon for $24.99 on Amazon. Many require only AAA batteries. That said, developing the app and the content represents an added expense.
But on your tech team there’s probably someone who’s at least familiar with how to program for a beacon. If not, there are some digital agencies to turn to.
If employed properly, beacons are a smart way to leverage supporter engagement and drive the conversation the way you want to drive it.
Lauren deLisa Coleman is a digi-cultural trend analyst, consultant, and founder of the Influence agency, Lnk.