Technology is only as good as the marketer’s strategy

What is Apple’s most famous product? The iPhone, which took smartphones out of the boardroom and put them in every pocket? What about iTunes, the digital media system that racked up sales of more than £10bn in 2013?

Ruth Mortimer

Or could it be iBeacon? The brand’s location-based marketing tool has seen a flurry of retailers take it up in the past few weeks. William Hill, Game and Nandos have all started using the technology in the UK, while big advertisers such as Coca-Cola and Mondelez are investigating how they can use it.

If you’ve somehow managed to avoid the lure of the Beacon so far, it’s essentially a technology that interacts with a smartphone’s Bluetooth technology and pinpoints where the user is. This ‘wakes up’ a relevant app and sends notifications to the phone.

Beacon finally seems to offer brands the efficient location-based marketing long promised by technologies such as near-field communication and standard Bluetooth. In-store Beacon ads garner much higher cost-per-thousand rates than mobile banner ads, suggests Forrester research into Beacon, released this week.

The Forrester report also states that open rates and redemption rates for mobile coupons triggered by Beacons have skyrocketed. Swirl, a beacon solution provider, says its pilots with major retailers have yielded a 75 per cent open rate for mobile offers, with a 35 per cent redemption rate.

But before you roll out the Beacons, remember some fundamental marketing lessons.

  1. This is a conversation tool, not just a technology. While Beacon may be implemented through Bluetooth, the ability it gives to talk to the customer may affect the marketing team, customer services, the ecommerce team, the retail staff and even the finance team. Make sure you have mapped out your customer journey and have all teams in place to play their part.
  2. Create a priority list. Beacons can be used to offer discounts within retailers, change buying behaviour, confirm shopper identity, pick up online orders and so on. Pick which fits your wider goals and start with one aim, rather than trying to achieve all of them in one fell swoop.
  3. Understand how far you can push your consumers. A phone is a personal item and with so many retailers and advertisers turning to Beacon it will be easy to overwhelm even the most excited shopper with communications.

So will the iBeacon be Apple’s greatest innovation? Well, it’s all in the implementation by others – however exciting the new technology, it all comes down to the old-fashioned skill of understanding customer psychology and needs.

And with psychology in mind, we have a columnist making her first appearance this week. Nathalie Nahaï is a psychologist specialising in digital behaviour; she will be providing insights into consumer thinking and debunking common misconceptions to arm marketers with the rigour they need to plan their strategies.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here