Long in the Blue-tooth – not just yet
Recent stats from a 2-year old project illustrate that Bluetooth interpretation still has a place, and reminds us to think carefully about how we cater for our visitors.
In 2010 we successfully applied for European Funding to develop a heritage trail around Clay Cross in Derbyshire. The outputs were an audio trail, iPhone app (the first on our ‘Welcome to’ software), a QR code trail and the installation of a Bluetooth and Wifi hub. Our aim was to offer a variety of media to appeal to a wide range of visitors.
We were keen to assess the effectiveness of Bluetooth hubs, as in theory they had the potential to offer visitors a simple way of accessing free content on their mobile phone when they arrive on site. Bear in mind this project was derived before mobile internet had really established itself. Bluetooth works by transferring data as radio waves over a short distance . The Bluetooth hub sends a text to Bluetooth-enabled phones in its proximity (e.g. 10 metres) and asks the user whether they would like to download the content.
The content itself is uploaded and stored on the hub so no mobile reception is required.
The problem is that most smartphones cannot communicate using Bluetooth. Since the dawn of 2012, more than over half the UK population own a smartphone and there could be a strong argument for suggesting a Bluetooth hub may have had its day.
The hub hasn’t been without its problems too, but we have persevered out of stubbornness and the fact that the funders require updates on each output. I’ve just returned from downloading the stats (over the wifi component of the hub, which also provides a localised web portal for smartphones) and have been pleasantly surprised by the figures.
The Clay Cross hub contains two images: one promoting the audio trail and one promoting the app. The hub also contains the first track of the audio trail.
Over the past three months (March 2012 – July 2012) the hub recorded the following stats:
- – Track 1 of the audio trail was downloaded 665 times
- – The audio trail ad was downloaded 428 times
- – The app ad was downloaded 393 times
That’s nearly 500 downloads a month/16 times a day and equates to about 40% of people actively choosing to download the content, although a significantly larger number did not respond to the message at all.
The hub had been beset with some early teething problems, resulting in its replacement. The problem was due mainly to the remote access component we had tried to build into it. This was later scrapped and replaced with a wifi router. However, our previous attempt to pull the stats from the hub proved fruitless. It turned out the hub had filled the memory and automatically reset itself to ensure it continued to operate. We therefore knew it was working, but had no idea to what extent. The solution was to download the stats files on a more regular basis!
The figures are very encouraging and far better than we had anticipated. We carefully considered the hubs location – in the Citizen’s Advice Bureau next to the bus station, where dwell times are higher – and this no doubt has helped increase the very high conversion rate. We also ensured the message received by users prompting them to download the files was relevant and appealing.
What this reminds us is that whilst we continue to try and push the boundaries by taking advantage of the latest technologies, we need to remember the millions of people who do not own the latest phone. If we are to be truly engaging with our audiences then we need to ensure we cater for all of them. And that doesn’t just apply to technology.