NFC is a technology that is starting to make a significant impact on marketing, enabling consumers with smartphones to gain instant access to a company’s website when they see a product or advertisement they are interested in. Cheap and easy to use, it helps businesses develop omnichannel user experiences and prevents instore customers seeking cheaper deals online. In this post, we’ll look at how the technology works and how you’ll need to develop your website to make the most of it.
What is NFC
NFC stands for near field communication, it’s a technology that uses radio waves to transmit information from an NFC tag to an NFC reader. Essentially, it’s the same technology that is used in smart cards and contactless payment cards.
An NFC tag is a small, inexpensive chip that can be programmed with a small amount of data. It is so small and flexible that it can be embedded into sticky labels that can be attached to products, packaging, POS materials and advertising posters. An equally important feature is that these tags don’t need an energy source – they are activated by the radio waves sent from a reader. This means once they are programmed, they can work indefinitely without running out of power.
An NFC reader is a piece of equipment that can read the data on a tag and process it. They can also be used to program a tag. Readers come in a variety of forms, such as handheld wi-fi enabled readers or those which connect to a computer via USB. Today, nearly all smartphones (all Android and Apple from iPhone 6 upwards) have NFC readers built in. The benefit for businesses is that all a customer has to do to retrieve the data on an NFC tag is to tap it with their phone.
What can an NFC tag do?
From a marketing perspective, it is possible to program a tag so that when a customer taps it with their phone, one of your website pages opens on the phone’s browser. This opens up a wide range of potential marketing options. Here are just some of them.
One way you can improve the customer experience is to attach sticky tags to ‘find out more’ labels on products or shelving on your premises. A customer who is looking at the item but is unsure about whether it is right for them can use the tag to find out more about it. Tapping the tag can open up a page on your website with product specifications and customer reviews, giving them instant access to information that can generate a sale.
A problem that many stores face is consumers coming in to look at a product and then using their phones to see if they can find it cheaper online. This can be tackled by using tags that open up a discount code page on your website or somewhere where they can get a price matching deal. To access this, you should ask for their email address in return so that you can send them other marketing deals in the future. Until now, online stores have always had the upper hand in growing email marketing lists; NFC enables bricks and mortar stores to address this issue, giving them access to a lucrative new marketing channel.
Another use of NFC is that it can be used to promote deals. For example, you could display a poster in the entrance which says ‘Tap Here to See Today’s Special Offers’. You can then send them to a specially designed ‘special offers’ page on your website which lists all the offers. This can be 2 for 1 offers, money off deals, or discounts if the customer spends a certain amount. If the offers change, you only need to update the web page, there’s no need to reprogram the tag.
Out of store benefits
As the NFC tags can be attached to almost anything, you are not restricted to using them in store. Today, many businesses attach them to posters in bus shelters, train stations, shop windows and various other places. Venues use tags to send customers to ticket sales pages, car showroom posters are used to book test drives, restaurants offer meal deals, cinemas open up trailer videos and so on.
The possibilities for NFC use are even wider. You can now buy NFC business cards which sales personnel or staff at events can use to send customers directly to your website. Each member of your team can send a potential customer to their own web page on which their contact details can be shown together with information about your products or services.
One additional benefit that businesses get from using NFC tags is that it is possible to analyse the data they produce. If you have specific landing pages which are only accessible when customers tap on a tag, you’ll be able to monitor how successfully they are being used and see which promotions work best.
Tags can also be used to get feedback from your customers, for example, you can display a ‘rate your visit’ poster at the exit which connects with a ratings page on your site. They can also be used to increase customer engagement and to help customers gain loyalty rewards: ‘Tap here to check-in on Facebook and get a 5% discount on your next visit.’
Getting your website ready
Using NFC is simple. Tags are very inexpensive, they can be programmed easily using a free app on a mobile phone and, once programmed, they just need sticking to products and display materials. The only thing you need to do then is to create the landing pages you want to send your customers to. Rather than sending your customers to an already existing page on your site, the user experience will be enhanced if you send them to page that is designed specifically for the thing the tag is promoting.
NFC tags are already in use in many bricks and mortar premises and on publicly displayed advertisements. They are a fantastic way to communicate with customers over the internet even when they are in store. They enable omnichannel shopping experiences, increase customer engagement, improve brand loyalty and increase sales. Is it time your business took advantage of them?
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