The Internet of Things (IoT) will also pick up speed in marketing next year. Not just in theory, but in the form of practical examples. After all, what used to be an empty buzzword has now become a natural part of everyday life for many people. And by 2020, more than 20 billion devices worldwide are expected to be part of the Internet of Things including nearly 13 billion in the consumer sector. But what does this development mean for marketing?
For a long time, smart refrigerators were the preferred example in presentations on the subject of IoT at marketing conferences. The fridge tells us what is still in it, what we have to buy and where we can do this best. In the ideal scenario, it simply takes care of the order itself. But such high-tech refrigerators are not yet widespread. Other IoT devices are becoming even more popular, although less obvious, in everyday life: the intelligent voice assistants. Connected to platforms like Amazon or Google, which almost everyone uses anyway, the loudspeakers based on artificial intelligence (AI) have found their way into the homes of consumers. In their own homes, many people already control heating, cookers and thermostats quite simply via the Internet. Smart devices from food processors and fully automatic coffee machines to music systems communicate with people, their social networks and of course with each other. The smart devices can therefore propose actions independently without the intervention of their owners. Entirely new forms of advertising – and above all touchpoints – are therefore becoming available for marketers.
Give the customer the context they are looking for
Theoretically, it’s true. In practice, however, it is not a matter of designing creative IoT campaigns at the moment, but of keeping your own data up to date. After all, IoT-based devices work with this data. That’s why advertisers should now pay more attention than ever to designing their content to meet the needs of search engines, i.e. to match the voice search. Texts, which should also work for voice search, must be able to provide concrete answers to very concrete questions (who, how, what, when and where). Above all, however, the information should be explicit and up-to-date. This is because location-based searches are also becoming increasingly popular with users. It is also extremely important to have content that matches the context. Today, customers no longer sit statically in front of their computer at their desk or with their smartphone on the couch. They travel, cook and clean while surfing the Internet. And because they use networked devices, advertisers have the opportunity to know these contexts and create the right advertising for them.
Get a slice of the data cake
The true added value of networked devices for companies lies in the wealth of data that customers make available to them. This is because the devices capture information about the interaction between users and their environment. And this is even possible in potential customers’ own homes. Just think about Amazon Echo. IoT devices know their owners pretty well and answers to questions like: When does who leave the house? What room temperature do they prefer? How many people live together in one house and how are they connected to each other? The users provide very precise information about how they live and what they love. The data collected by IoT devices will enable data-driven marketing by providing real-time consumer data to digital marketers. Is this a dream for marketers who can use the knowledge to distribute highly individualized campaigns to a very specific target group and more? We’re not quite there yet. However, IoT already provides interesting applications in marketing today. Some examples from the B2B sector show how the new insights into the individual behaviour of customers can be used for clever marketing campaigns:
- Predictive service: IoT enables manufacturers to monitor and better understand the condition and performance of the machines and parts used by customers. If this data is evaluated in a meaningful way, a customer e-mail reminder of maintenance times or ordering of spare parts, for example, is possible.
- Targeted offers: IoT data can also be used for sales purposes and help to tailor advertising offers to individual companies and users. Insights into customer usage behaviour can be incorporated into content such as blog posts or more specific offerings.
- Better sales arguments: Real-time performance data provides concrete sales arguments for a specific product.
- Personalized communication: With the evaluation of IoT data, the right information is available at the right time to make customers an individual offer. The data can also be used to adapt the communication to the specific needs of the customer – with regard to time, the content of the message or the channel.
Keeping an eye on the platforms
Although IoT is only slowly establishing itself in marketing, it is essential that advertising companies follow developments. Knowing when people are using products or accessing content and what else they are doing at the same time enables better campaign control. More data means smarter interactions, and smarter interactions mean a higher conversion rate. The same applies to customer service. Providing customers with time- and location-relevant offers and services will not only make them happy, but will also remind them of the brand in the long term and, at best, help maintain their loyalty. But for now, marketers should remain attentive, keep their eyes on the goal, but not just take off without thinking.