Is Bluetooth Marketing Effective?

By John Arnold

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I have been reseaching Bluetooth marketing technology and wondering why I am just now finding out about it when it hit the market around 2008. Did it prove to be ineffective? I would like to see some success stories outside of company testimonials.
Bluetooth marketing is part of a larger sphere of marketing known as location-based marketing or proximity marketing. The idea behind proximity marketing is that the proximity of a prospect or customer allows a business to deliver a marketing message with location relevance.

Bluetooth is only one of the many technologies that can enable proximity-based marketing messages. Other technologies include

  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

  • Triangulation

  • Wireless Fidelity (WiFi)

  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

  • Near Field Communications (NFC)

  • Radio Frequency Simulation (RF SIM)

  • Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)

Bluetooth can be a very effective form of marketing, but the challenge to using any kind of proximity marketing technology, including Bluetooth, is consumer adoption. Three things have to happen for Bluetooth marketing or any other technology to be effective for marketing to the masses.

  1. The technology has to be widely available. Smartphones are becoming more popular, but there are still a lot of feature-phones in the hands of consumers with no Bluetooth or proximity detection capabilities. Proximity marketing has more potential as more people trade up to smartphones and tablets.

  2. The technology has to be used by consumers. Just because there are millions of Bluetooth enabled devices doesn't mean that consumers know how to use the technology or what to do with it. Bluetooth isn't as familiar to consumers as texting, emailing, downloading an app, browsing the Web or using a camera.

  3. Consumers have to want the specific feature the technology offers. Even if a technology is widely available and used, consumers can still reject the technology for specific uses if they aren't valuable or cause them discomfort. Many consumers still don't like the idea of someone detecting their location without their permission.

These challenges aren't reasons to abandon Bluetooth and other forms of proximity marketing. They just mean that the success stories are few and far between because the technologies are best for serving early adopters and niche audiences.
Wavy Line
John Arnold

Marketing consultant and author

John Arnold is a marketing strategist and author offering practical marketing tips and advice to B2B companies. Connect with him at 

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