Have you ever woken up, walked into the kitchen and made the startling discovery all the coffee is gone? But imagine it’s all right, because a week ago, your coffee machine alerted Amazon, “Hey, this lady is almost out of coffee, so let’s get more ordered now before there’s a crisis over here.” Crisis avoided.
This is just one example of how the Internet of Things (IoT) will impact people’s lives in the future, but IoT will also change marketing as we know it. In fact, senior marketers across the globe expect IoT to make the largest impact on marketing over the next five years.
By the year 2020, there will be more than 26 billion connected devices, which is double the number of tablets, smartphones, and PCs combined. For marketers, this is huge, because it provides unprecedented access to customers. But what exactly is IoT, and how will it change marketing forever?
What is IoT?
The Internet is widely available everywhere, from the airport to the local coffee shop and even the gym. People have become more connected, and as they do, so have their devices.
The concept behind the Internet of Things is any device with an “on” or “off” switch can be connected to the Internet. This includes your coffee machine, headphones – and even your washing machine (more on that in a minute).
So why do customers want so many devices speaking to each other and, as a result, collecting massive amounts of data about their lives? The answer is simple. It’s all about convenience. But for marketers, this demand for convenience will transform their roles. Here are five ways IoT will make an impact for marketers in the future.
1. Hyper-speed Transactions
Customers today are busier than ever, and as a result, they want faster experiences. In fact, the customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key differentiator by 2020. So what does this mean for brands? It means they must use innovative technology to deliver precisely what customers want at the exact moment of relevance, and IoT is making this possible.
For example, Walgreens recently partnered with Aisle411 and Google Tango to create an app that would serve up faster, more relevant in-store experiences leveraging IoT. They created a mobile shopping platform that allows consumers to search and map products in the store.
Are you searching the aisles for a clerk to ask where a product is located? This app solves that problem, and it also serves up personalized offers at the moment of relevance, which is a tremendous opportunity for marketers.
Hilton Hotels uses IoT to create these elevated customer experiences. They rolled out a faster check-in process that allows customers to use their smartphones to check into the hotel and get keys. In the future, marketers at these hotels could be using “little data,” which captures the tiniest details about a customer’s stay. For example, they can learn how many pillows a customer prefers through IoT-enabled mobile apps and then provide those little details in the future.
2. Creating Dynamic User Experiences
The Internet of Things allows customers to get a better understanding of how products and services work. Today you may provide a demo, but in the future, you may leverage IoT to drive greater engagement with customers.
For example, Home Depot uses IoT to connect customers’ online shopping carts and wish lists with in-store mobile applications. Customers who are part of the company’s rewards program can view the most efficient route in a store based on their online shopping history. It ties together the various channels a single customer uses for a more seamless experience.
In the future, IoT could become even more advanced than the example listed above. Not only could it route the best path through a store based on historical buying patterns, but the store could also track data related to those paths. For example, a company could discover 40 percent of customers take a specific route through the store, and as a result, they could design product displays more effectively.
Amazon is also meeting customers where they’re at through their IoT development called “Dash Buttons.”
These buttons are available to customers with a Prime membership and allow for quick reorder when their favorite household products get low. The button is connected through home Wi-Fi and the Amazon app.
When a customer receives the button, they set the quantity they want to order when the button is pushed. Then when a product such as laundry detergent or their favorite snack mix gets low, a simple press of the button reorders it. This process saves time and is great for companies, because they earn repeat business and generate higher customer loyalty.
3. Capturing Relevant Data, Creating Relevant Experiences
As described above, IoT allows marketers to capture massive amounts of data about their customers. For example, for more than 22 years McDonald’s has offered a Monopoly contest in which customers peel stickers from products to win prizes. IoT is transforming this old-school game into something more advanced.
The company partnered with Piper, a Bluetooth low-energy beacon solution. It greets customers on their phones as they enter the restaurant. Once inside, customers are offered relevant coupons, surveys and other information. It’s great for the customer because they receive relevant information in real time, but it’s also great for McDonald’s because the company collects lots of data.
For example, let’s say a customer fills out a survey on their mobile device. The feedback is quickly routed to the appropriate manager, who can respond to the customer inside the restaurant before the customer finishes their meal.
4. Shaking Up Pricing: Product-as-a-Service
IoT is transforming the customer experience, but it may also transform the way marketers price and offer their products. For example, Rolls-Royce embedded engines with sensors not only transmit real-time data about the vehicle’s condition, but also meter it on a thrust-per-second basis. As a result, the car manufacturer could sell different levels of power using a subscription-based model.
This model could transform pricing for all different types of products. In the past, the user may have purchased a product outright, but in the future, marketers may be selling products that use sensors and allow companies to sell based on variable usage or features.
For example, a Tesla could be upgraded for higher performance or it could fix product defects while the owner sleeps. A subscription-based model could allow companies that have strictly sold a product in the past to drive ongoing revenue and greater customer loyalty through subscription-based features and offerings.
5. Smarter Product Integration
IoT may also provide greater customer value and more business opportunities in the future through seamless platform integration. For example, let’s say you have a premium Spotify account. As you step into an Uber, your playlist may upload, allowing you to listen to your favorite songs on the way to the airport.
This integration across devices and platforms will allow marketers to not only create more personalized experiences with customers, but also learn more about their behaviors and preferences. As a result, brands will build deeper and more authentic engagement.
4 Tips for Success
Are you thinking about adopting IoT into your marketing strategy in the future? If so, you might be wondering where to start. Here are a few quick tips.
- Start by looking at interactions. At what points are customers interacting with your brand? Perhaps they interact mostly through online channels or social media. If so, these areas should be a primary focus for your IoT marketing efforts.
- Focus on problems. In the example above, Walgreens enabled a marketing IoT strategy by looking at where customers had problems. They found customers don’t like wasting time, and when they can’t find a product (or a store clerk), they begin to have a negative experience. Focus on the largest problems your customers experience.
- Connecting the data points. Look at those interactions and problems, then figure out where IoT fits. For example, perhaps you select the top few interactions customers have with your brand as well as a common problem. From there, you may figure out how to incorporate geolocation through IoT or other features that make their experience better.
- Measure the data. Once you implement IoT, it’s important to iterate and change course as needed. Collect the data, but be sure to translate that data into valuable insights.
Tapping into the Internet of Things is changing the future for marketers. In the past, marketers had data. However, much of this data was historical, and companies weren’t able to react in real time through IoT. But in the future, that will change.
The best time to start creating an IoT-marketing strategy is today. When you accomplish this, you can monitor customer behavior closely, react faster when things go wrong and mitigate poor experiences. It’s about proactively creating positive customer interactions in real time.
What do you think about IoT and its role in the future of marketing? Please share by leaving a comment below.