How beacon technology is transforming transit from captive to captivated customers

How beacon technology is transforming transit from captive to captivated customers
Amer Hasan is CEO of minicabit.


In the ‘mad men’ days of marketing and advertising, you would typically reach the traveller through billboards, press or television ads placed at very strategic locations or times – outdoor billboards featuring warm and exotic holidays to Marrakech or Turkey tactically placed near snow-covered airports in Glasgow.

The fundamental concept of marketing – to be where your customers are – still applies, but the difference today is the access to data and technology that brands and marketers can leverage to communicate with their target audience more effectively. Today, with so many customers on the move, how to convert the ‘captive’ to the captivated while in transit – be it bus, tube or cab – presents powerful opportunities for brands to engage with customers and gain competitive advantage.

The consumer on the go has traditionally been the target of outdoor and transport advertising efforts, in the hope of capturing their attention whilst out of home. But more recently, brands are trying to literally move with these customers.

Take beacon technology as an example, which is already making its way into the transit space. Fox partnered with the Shazam app to use beacons on London buses as part of a promo campaign for Kung Fu Panda 3. Passengers travelling on a ‘Shazamable bus’ who are using the app will be shown content about the movie and given the option to book cinema tickets directly via the app. Not only does this campaign illustrate the potential of beacons, it also shows how brands can reach commuters with relevant, timely and engaging content in a discrete way. Commuting is no longer dead time for the passenger or the marketer.

Though still in its infancy, predictive analytics can also prove to be more than just an exotic marketing technique and we may soon see its adoption in the cab industry. Predictive analytics looks at the customer’s digital footprint across web and mobile, what they have done, what they are currently doing and predicting their future actions based on their habits and trends.

This is where knowing booking data in advance, and your customer’s profile holds an enormous value. Knowing that your customer is travelling by minicab to London City Airport on an early morning flight to Athens, with two pieces of carry-on luggage, means they can be shown flight updates on their mobile, emailed a ready-to-download voucher to spend at duty free, and receive live queue time alerts via SMS – all en route.

The first and last impression of a holiday starts and ends with the cab that takes you there. So, predictive analytics can be a competitive weapon, turning data into actionable insights to deliver the right content to the right customer at the right time so brands can better understand their customer, retain them and hopefully acquire new ones. And powering this compelling customer experience is the ‘integrated economy’ where various sources of third party data can be mashed up to deliver a service, in this case from flight updates to retail vouchers.

The transit market is extremely diverse – from business people, students, tourists, seniors – so each of these groups has different interests and lifestyles; each travels for different purposes; each chooses transit for different reasons; each responds to different messages so each is best reached in different ways. This diversity, then, requires marketers to think and work in multiple, parallel channels. Innovative, timely, contextual and clear communication with customers in transit can be the most effective and efficient form of marketing yet. Indeed, this type of engagement has great potential to generate attention, create curiosity and if done right, become the new call to action in the digital world.

View Comments
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *