Have you heard about Near Field Communication (NFC) technology being used in marketing circles, but are unsure on how exactly it is applied? An increasing number of marketers are recognising NFC as a potent marketing tool which can help them engage with, well... just about anybody with a smartphone!
Here at NFC Direct, we know it's time to get practical. As the number of marketing uses for NFC multiplies, we are going to describe some of the most effective and innovative ways in which NFC is being used around the world by organisations which want to connect with their target audience.
A new era for Marketing giveaways?
Remember that free pen you picked up at the last exhibition you attended? It might have kept you in ink for a few weeks, but did it have any kind of effect on your perception of the brand inscribed on it? The next pen you pick up could do because the effect of marketing collateral, such as pens, keyfobs and fridge magnets, has now entered a new era thanks to NFC. That's because these objects can now be given a unique double purpose.
While they are still useful for their primary purpose, now they can come with an NFC Tag which offers so much more. It might be media such as an instantly downloadable film or podcast, it could be a digital brochure or direction to a special offer or discount; all it takes is the swipe of a smartphone, and the recipient can activate the NFC chip and engage further with the brand. Not only does this add more value to marketing giveaways, but it can also engender the perception of a forward-thinking brand.
One marketer who is sold on NFC's effectiveness for marketing collateral is Jacob Beckley, the Vice President of Innovation at award-winning US marketing agency Fusion92. Writing for the VentureBeat platform, he described the multiple advantages of the technology for marketing strategists, including the opportunity to tie in analytics.
Jacob explained: "By giving marketers a new way to bridge the physical and digital gap, NFC technology offers unprecedented opportunities to brands that want to convey a tech-savvy image while delivering valuable offers and collecting vital consumer insights."
That's the difference which NFC is making. In marketing terms, there is no comparison between the potential of a standard promotional beer mat, coaster or window sticker, and an NFC Beer Mat, NFC Coaster or NFC Window Sticker. The standard version is constricted in terms of what it can achieve. The NFC version has virtually no boundaries.
Bringing Business Cards into the 21st Century
NFC could be given credit for allowing business cards a new lease of life. These marketing tools were once an essential for meetings, conferences and exhibitions, but until NFC came along, they threatened to be overtaken by the digital era in which offering to add a contact on social media can be seen as more convenient.
But now business cards have a two in one function which displays all the right information, but also allows for social media accounts to be accessed directly from the card itself. That means no more typing out names or email addresses - a recipient simply swipes their phone to be connected with a contact's social profile. NFC Business Cards could also have put paid to the trend of handing out USB sticks containing digital marketing content. The costs for, say, 200 sticks, can really add up - so why bother when you can produce more NFC Business Cards for a cheaper price, and offer exactly the same content in a more convenient manner?
Time to get Smart
NFC is an ecommerce firm's dream because their advertising campaigns can now compete side by side with physical stores on the high street while making purchasing even easier than the over-the-counter option. It's all down to Smart Posters, which can advertise a product, and invite a passerby to swipe for an instant order. No need to type out a web address on your handset, or even try to memorise the website URL or product name until you get home. Thanks to NFC, Smart Posters allow ecommerce firms to have a valuable physical presence which can translate into instant conversions.
But it isn't just for ecommerce that NFC Smart Posters are a winner. Movies, concerts and festivals which use display advertising in their marketing campaigns are also reaping the rewards of instant ordering - and crucially, consumers value the chance to save time and secure their ticket for an in-demand event on the spot. The wider potential of NFC Smart Posters means that all sorts of consumer-facing brands are able to enable a new level of interaction with potential customers through display advertising. They can be used to instantly enter competitions, join a conversation on social media, or navigate to a website for more details.
Dr Francesco Prato was the Business Development Manager for NFC at Philips Semiconductors when the company conducted some pioneering trials into NFC technology and Smart Posters. He told the Secure ID News that Smart Posters had quite an impact on trial participants engaging with them for the first time, impressing them with the high level of automation.
Dr Prato said: “It was very interesting to see their first reactions … people were very surprised to see how they could interact with a poster. They were very surprised to see that by touching something without any interaction, they could use NFC. They liked the fact there was less interaction, that you don’t need to select the application.”
While NFC display advertising is hard to ignore, there are also more subtle ways in which marketers are incorporating NFC into their campaigns, as we will see...
Always read the Label
The advent of NFC Custom Labels are giving marketers more opportunities than ever to incorporate NFC technology into their campaigns - pretty much, wherever they can be stuck, they can be swiped! There is a wide range of NFC Custom Labels on the market; from Permanent Adhesive NFC Labels to Repositionable NFC Labels, and they can be fully branded according to requirements. What each NFC Label has in common is its ability to transfer the capabilities of NFC onto any surface - whether that is in order to encourage a social media follow, a competition entry, or a website visit; it is another level of brand interaction which is simply unachievable with standard labels.
Permanent Adhesive NFC Labels are designed to stand up to scratches thanks to the extra protection provided by the TT Varnish Gloss and Polypropylene which is used in the production. The Repositionable NFC Labels can be stuck, moved and then restuck as required. There are two types available - one for normal surfaces and the other for metal surfaces. In short, NFC Custom Labels don't just offer innovative NFC technology, they are also designed to be endlessly practical!
Then there are NFC Clothing Labels, which bring a whole new dimension to an important part of the retail sector. Clothing labels enabled with NFC can engage customers for as long as they own a garment. Marketers can add another outlet for brand exposure with the greatest of ease, delivering any marketing messages they may have, or redirecting to new product ranges through a simple tap or swipe of an NFC reading device such as a smartphone. NFC Clothing Labels don't offer technology at any expense to comfort - they are produced from the same polyester satin you would expect to see attached to a range of high street and designer garments; the only difference is, they are armed with NFC!
There aren't many more versatile technologies around than NFC, and this is certainly highlighted by NFC Clothing Labels, which don't actually have to be restricted to clothing. They are also suitable for use with textiles, accessories and furniture, and can be customised with whichever logo or design a marketer chooses.
Stick and Swipe
Drilling down even further to the lowest dimensions of NFC tools on the market, there is a range of NFC Tags which can be easily used by marketers to add NFC functionality to a wide variety of marketing materials. These come as rolls of small stickers which are simple to affix to posters, flyers, brochures, books - the list goes on! They come branded or unbranded, according to the customer's wish, and represent the essence of the beautiful, straightforward functionality offered by NFC.
So marketing managers and campaign strategists now have a world of possibilities at their fingertips thanks to NFC technology. The challenge for them is knowing how best to use the technology to support their brand and engage with their target audience. If it can be linked to with a 3G, 4G, 5G or wifi connection, in general, it is suitable to be used with NFC, and so marketers are left with a range of exciting options for how to entertain, inform, educate or amuse. The key principle is to make every swipe count!