Handling Customers Worried About Beacons and Privacy

Unfamiliar technology like beacons almost always seem to be coupled with fears and suspicions regarding customer data and how it will be used or protected. While these concerns are quite valid with marketing methods like ad retargeting and social media data gathering, beacons are actually one of the most secure technologies on the market precisely because they are so simple.

Allaying customer fears of privacy involves developing a strategy of informing customers and dialing down on the rhetoric used to describe beacon technology. Here are some key points to hammer home either in an FAQ page regarding your program or as part of the general language of your beacon campaign:

#1 Beacons Do Not Transmit Anything Other Than a Tiny Data Packet

Part of the problem with how consumers perceive beacons comes from our own mistakes when discussing the technology. Marketers and people who produce content like us often talk about how “beacons deliver exciting offers” or how “beacons can trigger interactions” when in reality, this is misrepresenting what is truly happening.

Beacons are exciting because they are simple, cheap and use little energy. All they really do is transmit a single unique code that tells anyone in the vicinity, “Hey! I’m a unique beacon!” What happens next depends entirely on the context triggers programmed within the beacon-enabled app or device.

So, to comfort those worried about what beacons are doing, tell them that the smartphone and the network-enabled program that interacts with the beacon does 99.9% of the heavy lifting. Beacons do not even have much of a processor to speak of that would be capable of sending out actual content or complex data, otherwise they would cost more and eat up batteries — defeating their whole purpose.

#2 Customers Have the Right to Opt Out of Beacon Interactions at Any Time

One of the barriers to beacon use is that they require consumers to adopt them in a series of steps. First, they must usually download a special app on their phone. Second, the customer must usually give permission to the app to use beacon information in a way that sends targeted offers or triggers store environment events.

Therefore, it is completely up to the consumer to decide what is and is not being shared, and that customer controls all of these options from their own smartphone device. People who want to withhold their purchase history data, for instance, can do so. They can also turn off location services to prevent their location data from being used.

As a last-ditch effort, they can even turn off their Bluetooth when they enter the store, and no beacon will even be able to recognize that they are there. Options like these put the customer in control and let them decide their own level of participation.

#3 Brands Are Using Beacon Programs Because They Add Value to the Customer Experience

Beacons are not part of some insidious conspiracy to gather data or for brands to infiltrate areas of their customer’s private lives. If brands really wanted to go that route, they already have the means to do so with existing technology. The only thing a beacon could tell someone that other existing technology could not is how often that person walked by the beacon — assuming they opted in and had their Bluetooth on.

Customers need to understand that brands buy beacons only because they think it will give something back to their customers that other technology could not. Old methods like spamming banner ads and underhandedly acquiring email addresses do not generate nearly the amount of return that beacons can, and the reason for that is that customers only want to see relevant offers without feeling pressure to consider ones they are not interested in. This desire for relevance is the exact reason that beacons are being implemented the way they are instead of just triggering theme music every time someone walks by.

To discover more about how beacons and a strong beacon platform can add value to your customer experience as well as how you can manage their privacy and secure their data, visit Digital Social Retail’s product page.

Start your Social Retail campaign today!

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