Marketing at the threshold of the Internet of Things (IoT)

Miha Breskvar / / Inbound Marketing

Let’s start today’s post with a mini experiment. Look around for a moment and list all the devices with an ON/OFF switch that you can see. I’m sitting at my desk at the moment and so my list of these devices is pretty ordinary: a laptop, a phone, a tablet, air conditioning, and the light switches on the wall.

It doesn’t matter where you are, but you’ve probably listed at least five different devices that according to Jacob Morgan fall within the Internet of Things (IoT): coffee machines, central heating, fridges, cars, lamps, video projectors, and so on. If a device has an on/off switch, we will most likely be able to (or we already can) connect it to the World Wide Web. If that’s possible, then it’s an IoT device. As simple as that.

Marketing the Internet of Things or marketing with the help of the Internet of Things?

According to Mediapost reports, last summer as many as 51% marketers already agreed that the IoT was going to make the most revolutionary changes to their area of operation by 2020. 2020 is pretty close and so we can rightfully ask ourselves what stage marketing related to the IoT is currently in.

In the first stage, marketers will first have to convince their potential customers that it’s actually worth replacing older devices, which may still be doing their job just fine, with new-generation devices, such as smart meters, smart suitcases, smart cars or smart dishwashers. The moment the customer decides to make a purchase, data on how the device is used starts being collected, and thinking about services that could resolve the yet unresolved problems and previously unperceived needs also begins. By connecting devices and services, comprehensive packages can be designed that will be more useful and hence easier to market.

The second stage of marketing development during the IoT period will be characterized by opening up and connecting with advertisers and providers of complementary services and products. Let’s take smart washing machines as an example. In the first stage, developers of household appliances will furnish the machine with additional sensors to collect data on your laundry-making habits and at the same time give you the option to use remote control with your washing machine.

How often do you do laundry? Do you use only one specific wash cycle? What time do you usually turn on your washing machine? Is the water in your bathroom excessively hard?

After even a short period of use, a series of user data will be available and by comparing various demographic criteria marketing can come up with extremely valuable findings, which even a decade ago we could only dream of. Truly revolutionary changes will thus only happen in the second stage of development, when, as Clinton Bonner picturesquely explained, “the connectivity of digital devices will provide infinite opportunities for advertisers to listen and respond to their clients’ needs —with the right message at the right time, using the right device.”

Respond to your clients’ needs with the right message at the right time, using the right device. Click To Tweet

What next?

Through the development of connectivity, physical things transform into social things and when communication starts between them, this creates exceptional opportunities for a better and friendlier user experience. All too often the IoT is still perceived merely as a set of fun and handy devices, such as smart coffee machines, but beyond the fun a new IT infrastructure is being formed with apps and open API-interfaces that focus on designing new solutions known under the common term of social access management.

Creating smooth and uninterrupted physical experiences by connecting people, various devices, entire buildings, and smart places into a single whole is what lies at the heart of these solutions. A whole in which everything is adapted to the individual.

The IoT can be of great help in getting to know your customers, but are your employees ready for it? Click To Tweet

Marketing had better get ready because serious work is about to start!

In the next two decades, the Internet of Things is expected to contribute around €15 trillion to the global GDP. Based on the European Commission’s estimates, in the EU alone its contribution to the GDP will have reached €1 trillion by 2020. The first stage of the Internet of Things is already in full swing. The second stage is only a couple of years away. We have to begin preparing for how to make use of the masses of data that will suddenly become available. So what lies ahead?

  • A detailed analysis of buying habits at all platforms where users hang out and shop.
  • Insight into the new ways in which users communicate with the devices around them.
  • Detailed insight into the buying decision process and accurate location of customers within this process.
  • Identifying how individual users use specific devices and how they work.
  • Real-time interaction with the user and targeted advertising.
  • Informing the producer of any errors and problems with the devices’ operation before the user even perceives them.
  • Faster, more efficient, and friendlier resolution of user support issues.

Let me go back to the beginning. I’m convinced that all the devices you listed when you started reading this blog post will become increasingly smarter. The prices of adding connectivity functions and intelligent solutions are falling and users are becoming increasingly susceptible to simple, comfortable, and personalized communication with these devices. In this, many of us are a little worried or even scared about our safety and privacy. Providers will therefore most likely be obligated to give users the option of choice and obtain permission from them to collect data through these devices.

If you’re still a little suspicious about the IoT or if the possibility of someone keeping track of everything you do and tailoring your experience with the surrounding environment to you specifically still seems far away and futuristic, it’s time you woke up. In reality all of this is already happening. Keeping track of customers’ every step and personalizing their experience online has become a reality.

[email protected]