Your ideal beacon will be contingent on your specific budget and intended use. Here is what to consider as you buy beacons:
- Transmission range
How far do you want to send out data? This will boil down to your intended use. For instance, store managers who want to advertise offers to their in-store customers will only need beacons whose reach is 30m maximum. A real estate agent who wishes to get people to their open house might need beacons that transmit data as far as 300m.
- Battery life
No one wants to be anxious about their beacons dying on them in the middle of a campaign. That’s why you ought to pay attention to the specifications of the beacons you purchase. Keep in mind that some factors will reduce the battery life of your beacons, such as increasing their transmission intervals.
You might want to get something with a better battery life than usual if you are advertising in a noisy environment. Consider getting a USB beacon if battery life is a huge concern for your usage scenario. These are plug-and-play beacons that will have you at ease when it comes to battery life.
- Indoor vs. outdoor
Indoor beacons typically don’t require a lot of care. They aren’t exposed to as many harsh elements as the outdoor beacons are. However, when it comes to buying outdoor beacons, you ought to consider the kind of environment you will be using them in. For instance, they need to be at least waterproof to protect them from water damage.
- Beacon platform
The right platform will help you both configure and run your beacons. However, it all depends on your intended use of the beacons. If you are looking to use them for sending location data, ordinary beacon platforms will be enough. Anyone looking to run a marketing campaign might need a more comprehensive beacon platform.
The ideal one should provide an end-to-end solution. This will make sure that you can share data, assess the analytics, and organize your related beacons with ease.
Among the most appealing characteristics of beacons is that they are quite affordable as marketing tools. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that you need to focus solely on price when looking for the perfect beacon for your business. Instead, you should also focus on the value they drive to your intended use.
Besides, there are multiple ways to get price breaks. For instance, most manufacturers usually offer discounts for large order quantities. Other factors that will sway the price include the order delivery timeline, whether they will come white-labeled, and whether they will be configured out-of-the-box.
- Supported protocol
What protocol does your beacon run on? It can either be Eddystone or iBeacon. While the latter runs well with iOS Bluetooth low energy beacons, the former is ideal for Android Bluetooth beacons. It all trickles down to the target use. However, it would be wiser to pick beacons that support both Eddystone and iBeacon for maximum deployment flexibility.
- Advertising interval
The ideal advertising frequency will depend on your intended use and the environment. If you are using them in normal environments, the typical frequency will be enough – 950ms. For noisy environments, you might need to lower this frequency to increase the chances of the beacon packets reaching the intended receiver. Keep in mind that increasing frequency decreases the battery life.
- Availability of a compatible app
The recipient of the beacon’s data needs to have an app on their phone that can receive and translate the data. This can either be a hardware-agnostic app or integration into your own app. If you are willing, you could always build your own app from the ground up, thanks to the availability of platforms that help you easily do the same.
- Tx power
Tx power represents the level at which your beacon submits signals. It typically ranges between -30dBm and +4dBm. The Tx power drives signal range. A high Tx power means a higher data transmission range. Keep in mind that transmitting signals over a longer range will drain battery life. If you need to send signals over a wider range, purchase a beacon with a superior battery life.
While most beacons are stationary, they do not always need to be. In some cases, they might need to be moved around from place to place. The good thing is that there are beacons that can be held in the palm of your hand.