A few years ago, the peculiar term “Internet of Things” (IoT) started creeping up into conversations, and today it’s making a big splash in the world of businesses and consumers.
Who do we believe will benefit the most from the IoT? Digital marketers. By the year 2020, it is estimated that there will be 26 billion more connected devices in our world, doubling the number of tablets, smartphones, and PCs combined that currently exist. This means companies will be able to gather even bigger data and create personalized campaigns to serve individuals exactly what they need, when they need it.
What exactly is the Internet of Things, you ask? It refers to the fast-growing network of connected things — electronic devices, vehicles, buildings, appliances, etc. — that are able to collect and exchange data. These objects or “things” are embedded with software, sensors and network connectivity that enables them to communicate with each other.
For marketers, the benefit and the opportunity lies in the accuracy, real-time communication, efficiency and convenience that comes from the ability to connect all of these consumer devices. The IoT opens up even more digital channels for marketers to track and analyze, and the amount of data that can be collected is limitless. Companies can then capitalize on these opportunities, creating personalized marketing strategies and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, “work harder, not smarter.”
As digital marketers, our world revolves around customer data. We relentlessly test our crazy ideas, analyze every ounce of data searching for meaning in those crazy ideas, then adapt our strategies according to the data.
The Internet of Things brings bigger data to the table, deepening the relationships we have with our customers. Marketo explains the flow of this big data by saying, “More connectivity leads to more data, leads to smarter data, leads to more relevant campaigns, leads to more customer engagement.” Still trying to wrap your head around all of that? Check out this beautifully produced infographic, also by Marketo.
We’re still digesting this one, given the amount of time we’ve spent creating keyword lists, but the IoT favors a world of natural language. Two of the biggest IoT devices— Amazon Echo and Google Home — operate off of voice-recognition software, meaning that you can turn on your device and get responses to your questions just by speaking to the device in a normal voice. The process of information retrieval is changing (with much less emphasis on keywords and Google Search), so it’s important to think about how your information can be retrieved through multiple formats.
With the demise of the keyword, comes the demise of the hyperlink. As people begin to use the IoT to actually purchase products, marketers will need to shift the way they think about their utility to consumers. Meaning, we need to make a shift away from providing answers in the form of content, and instead providing actions to help consumers go from need to fulfillment as quickly as possible.
Since the beginning of time, marketers have defined their “target audiences” or “target markets” and have geared campaigns towards households instead of individuals. More sophisticated data has allowed us to target more specifically, reaching only 20-something males on Facebook, for instance.
But now, with bigger data coming from AI and the IoT, we have the capability to target individuals and solve their specific “thing-related problems.” This shift in targeting is able to predict solutions for individual users of products. If your car is connected to the Internet and your brakes start wearing out, wouldn’t it be fun if you car directed you straight to the highest-rated brake shop on Yelp? These smart devices enable marketers to deliver real solutions (not just messages) to those “thing-related problems” we all encounter on a daily basis.
When analyzing your customer’s pain points (more on that below), seek out partners that can create innovative solutions to help you fill in those gaps. Take advantage of a world where everything is connected, and know that there are absolutely no limits to your marketing campaigns with the IoT.
Like it or not, area of life, product, service or solution is unmarketable under the IoT umbrella. Marketers are now able to dig deeper into bigger data and offer consumers exactly what they want and when they want it. Some concerns remain about the security, privacy and lack of standards in place when it come to the IoT, but when used effectively, the opportunities for creative marketing campaigns are endless.
We understand it may seem like an enormous undertaking to adopt the IoT into your marketing strategy, so here are some quick tips for getting started:
Welcome to the wild, wild west of the Internet of Things. There are no rules for how to use it, no limits in the amount of data it can collect, and no shortage of campaigns to be created. Marketers have the opportunity to either be pioneers of this new hyper-connected world we live in, or run the risk of being left behind.
Will you accept the challenge?