Beacons for Marketing

Retail marketing was one of the first uses for beacons when they first became available. Unfortunately there was, and continues to be, a lot of hype and mis-information regarding beacons and marketing. We help you cut through the hype and understand beacons so that you can determine if beacons are suitable for your organisation's marketing.

Beacons allow you to send information to your customers' smartphones. They get a notification at the top of their smartphone screen. Tapping on the notification takes them either to your installed app or a web site.

How it Works

Despite claims to the contrary, beacons don't send out marketing messages. Something, usually an app via a server database or information from a web site, needs to convert the beacon Bluetooth advertising data to a message. There are two main types of beacon that can be used for marketing. The first, iBeacon, sends out an id. The second type, Eddystone-URL, sends out a web address. We say 'usually' because there's a third type, called Google Nearby, where Eddystone can also send out an id, that needs to be registered at Google, but this is rarely used as it's very complex it set up.

iBeacons sending out ids need a custom app to convert the id into an action such as a phone notification. This is the mechanism used by retail stores or visitor spaces that have their own apps.

Eddystone-URL beacons sending out a web address are detected on Android (not iOS) without an app. A notification appears on Android phones with an icon and message based on the content (title) of the target page. There's no need for a paid subscription, no need to join a platform and no need to join a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme.

There's also a Physical Web app on iOS and Android that detects Eddystone-URL beacons.

There are some technical complications in that the Eddystone-URL beacon can only store short web addresses, can only point to secure (https:) web sites and the mechanism doesn't work well on some phones. We guide you with articles and walkthroughs but you do need some basic technical skills.

Unless you use your own custom app to detect beacons, the beacons won't be detected unless the user is using their smartphone (i.e. the screen is on). A smartphone notification won't be created if the phone is in their pocket or bag. This is to cut down on the number of unwanted messages a person might otherwise receive. For all types of beacon the end user's smartphone needs to have Bluetooth on and Location on

In most cases one or more beacons will be placed at your location pointing to information that you change manually. However, it's possible to have automatic setups where the Bluetooth advertising changes over time. For example, video displays at stadiums or in shopping malls can send out changing information based on the video being displayed.

Get Started

The easiest way to start is to buy an Eddystone beacon and try it out. If you need us to set it up, we have an Eddystone Configuration Service. We also offer a free EddystoneCMS platform for customers without their own secure (https://) web site.

If you belong to a large organisation or have an ambitious project, consider our consultancy to gain insights into success factors, setup, the best choice of beacon, analytics and management software.

We also develop iOS and Android apps. Apps allow triggering in background when the screen and phone aren't on, provide richer engagement and result in more comprehensive analytics. Try our free Beacon Demonstrator app to try out app triggering. 

More Information

What are Beacons?

Read about Eddystone and the Physical Web

How Easy is Eddystone to Set Up? (FAQ)

Which Beacons Send a Message/Notification to Phones? (FAQ) 

Read about Apps

Tags: marketing, eddystone