Internet Of Things
Appboy writer Lauren Leonardi describes IoT as a world in which everyday objects—from your phone to your car to your coffee maker to the systems that manage energy consumption in your home to the system that screens bags at the airport, and so on—can exchange data with each other via network connections. The market of IoT is huge. McKinsey Global Institute estimates the total economic impact of IoT could be as high as $11 trillion by 2025. It’s the reason why Google acquired Nest and Samsung acquired SmartThings for large sums of money20.
But why should we in marketing be paying attention?
Elementary, dear fellow marketers. It’s all about data. As marketing technology experts point out, the Internet of Things blows the lid off of available data – not just the immense volume, but the types of data, and the innumerable new implications created by a single new stream of information. While traditional methods of marketing attribution—and even more recent innovations born out of new digital marketing channels—provide relatively good insights considering the data available to marketers through those channels, they are no match to the data bounty IoT can bestow on its faithfuls; IoT data is so rich and diverse that it makes even recent improvements to digital marketing attribution seem, by comparison, basic and punchless21.
Pinterest and Tok&Stok, a Brazilian furniture retailer, partnered on an in-store campaign that let shoppers save physical products to their digital accounts with just the push of a pin. The products, for example a teakwood table, had a big, red “Pin It” button on their top pressing which would save the table to your Pinterest board in case you wanted to push the purchase decision to the future or just desired to share the product with other friends on Pinterest.
But how to make sure that if two persons pressed the button one after another, not only that the button would recognize they were different persons, but also that it would know they were which two persons so it could save the table to their respective Pinterest accounts?
This is where IOT, and one of its major hardware enablers, something called a ‘beacon’ came into picture. Each button used a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon to communicate with nearby consumer smartphones, telling it exactly who was in the vicinity. This made it possible for the button to identify the right person who had pressed it and save the table to the person’s Pinterest account22.
Data Optimization & Smart Targeting
A major US clothing retailer spent a significant amount of their marketing budget on bus and outdoor advertising to publicize sales and other promotions. Although they had relied on this marketing strategy for years, the retailer never had the ability to determine definitively which zip codes would be the most effective locations to reach their shoppers. So they decided to take the help of IOT to target their customers better. They partnered with a beacon technology vendor and installed beacons in 20 of their locations around the San Francisco Bay Area to track which zip codes consumers were coming from; the beacons, as discussed before, did this by communicating with the smartphones of the prospective customers. At the end of four months, the clothing retailer’s IOT partner helped them analyze the data gathered from the beacons to identify the highest and lowest-density areas of the retailer’s customers within each store’s geographical reach. Armed with these insights, the retailer used the zip code data to focus its bus advertising on the highest-density neighborhoods; the data also helped the retailer identify distant zip code from where its stores were drawing large numbers of customers indicating opportunities for opening additional stores23,24.
The retail giant Target uses IOT to rewards its loyal shoppers who opt in to the beacon experience (by downloading an app) by sending them push notifications based on where they are in the store, their personal consumer profile, and product info. One can imagine a situation where a mother has walked into the kid’s section. Based upon her purchase history which suggests she has a 6 yr old son who likes to wear caps, Target can send her a coupon for a nearby cap25.
Rockbot, a virtual jukebox that lets customers request songs at restaurants, hotels, and gyms, uses IOT/beacon technology in a very innovative way to delight its customers. After analyzing historic listening patterns to figure out which songs its users liked best, the platform would automatically play those songs when the consumers walked into its partner venues. Imagine how delightful it would be if you walked in with your wife into a restaurant and the band playing there automatically dedicated to you both a song that you connected to your first date26.
Social Media Marketing
Event hosters can use IOT based technology called geofencing to capture all social media postings related to the event as long as users posting the content are at the event venue (pre-defined via a perimeter). Geofencing technology enables a programmed action to take place everytime a user with a target device enters or exits a pre-defined geofenced area. For example, if you have set up a reminder in Evernote or Apple Reminders to go off when you leave the house or enabled your phone to go on mute when you arrive at the office, you are using geofencing technology. Therefore if you are hosting an event, you can capture all user generated social media content generated within the pre-defined perimeter at the event venue and use the content for social media promotion or engagement even if say the attendees forget to include your custom event hashtag in their postings – your original plan23.
Search Engine Optimization
Users are also turning to voice-controlled home assistant devices like Amazon Echo to find content and make decisions and purchases, says Adrienne Weissman, Chief Marketing Officer of G2 Crowd, a business software review company. This presents a golden opportunity for marketers to seize the opportunity of speaking directly to consumers.
“Brands can leverage the technology by making their content or offering accessible through the channel – whether that means you create offers specifically for the channel, sponsor content that is being streamed, or simply optimize to ensure your content is findable,” Weissman says.
Early adopters of this content delivery system include General Electric (GE). One of its latest initiatives, “Labracadabra,” is a collection of DIY science experiment kits complete with how-to videos. GE chose Amazon’s Alexa (which powers the Echo device) to act as a “lab assistant,” walking users through experiments, sharing tips, and even jokes. All users have to do to launch the program is say, “Alexa, open ‘Labracadabra.’”28
There are multiple other domains for which IOT can prove useful for marketers including Product Redesign, Hyper-personalization, Customer Success, Pricing, Advertising etc. However IOT is also throwing up challenges to the marketers of the future including privacy concerns, information overload, and extreme cybersecurity threats. How the marketers in partnership with other stakeholders address these inevitable challenges will determine the success of IOT related innovations in the marketing futurescape.
As the famous marketer Seth Godin says: “Most marketers have come from an environment where everyone is selling exactly the same product. The way you won was with a clever tag line. This is the world of “Mad Men”.
Modern marketers however say, “Well, of course Apple people are waiting in line to hear Apple’s announcement because they’re actually doing something new. They’re not just spinning the old.” It’s a huge shift. Changes like this haven’t happened elsewhere in the company. Accounting hasn’t changed. Product development hasn’t changed much. Sales isn’t so different. Marketing has been completely transformed.
Which means that there are effectively two kinds of marketers: Marketers who cling to pushing products with advertising and marketers who are embedded in what the company makes and are pushing it towards what the consumer wants29. And the world is slowly shifting towards the second type, the type who can embrace the methods and technologies of the present and future to create and evolve products worth using, engaging with and talking about, who can combine the old and the new and the coming to delight their customer while achieving their marketing goals. The second type will embrace technologies like Big Data, AI, IOT, Virtual Reality etc with gusto and use them in tandem with traditional media to make genuine promises and to deliver on those promises such that the story of their product rings true.
As Steve Jobs, the original and legendary techno-marketer said, “Older people sit down and ask, ‘What is it?’, but the boy asks, ‘What can I do with it?’”.
So be a ‘boy’ marketer. Welcome yourself to the brave new world of marketing.