A few years ago, marketers might have dismissed it as a buzzword or a passing fad, but there’s no denying that in 2018, the Internet of Things (IoT) is here to stay. So what is IoT? At its essence, it’s simply the world we live in, where all things are connected to and by the Internet.
Here’s just a small sample of the IoT devices with which you might already be familiar:
- the watch on your wrist that sends your step count to your phone and receives a notification when someone likes your latest workout post on social media;
- the fridge that alerts you when you’re low on apples or yogurt and updates the shopping list on your phone;
- the lock that gives you entry to your vacation rental with just a passcode from an app;
- the thermostat that can be adjusted from your phone, no matter where you are; and
- the smart assistant (think the Amazon Echo or the Google Home) that can retrieve search results, add items to your shopping list, and complete your purchase — all by voice command.
And it’s more than just home products. There’s also the machine that notifies the factory manager when it needs maintenance, upgrades its own software automatically and recommends complementary products and services based on usage data.
These “things” can listen, see, serve, interact, record and disposition our behavior in real-time. Some might say we’re living in a science fiction novel, and if you ask me, it’s a pretty exciting concept — especially when you consider how marketers can leverage this more connected world.
According to Intel, there are projected to be 200 billion IoT devices globally by 2020. Those of us on the cutting edge of this technology are still figuring out how best to use it to communicate in meaningful ways, but it’s clear that there are endless opportunities for marketers in the IoT universe. Here are the basics you need to know to get started.
IoT Means People Can Access You From Anywhere, Anytime
You’ve probably already devoted time to optimizing your site for mobile search, but SEO in the Internet of Things is a whole new ballgame. Make sure you’re optimized for new search tactics by considering how voice searchers are likely to ask for your services. Make sure public data about your location is up-to-date, as geo-based search is increasingly common in the IoT. Most importantly, think about the context in which your audience might now find your content. They are less and less likely to be seated in front of a desktop computer and more and more likely to be doing household chores, driving or traveling in a new city. Adapt and customize your content to these possible contexts to give your IoT audience a seamless experience.
IoT Is All About Data
Let’s think about all those connected devices again. Those things are all generating data — lots of it. More data is great for marketers. Knowing when people are using products or accessing content and what else they might be doing at the same time (going for a jog, taking the kids to school, grocery shopping) means we can better tailor our campaigns. More data means smarter interactions, and smarter interactions mean more conversions.
IoT Makes for Frictionless Purchasing
In the IoT universe, payment methods are integrated with virtual assistants and it’s simpler than ever to search for a solution and order it in the same breath — great news for B2C marketers. What you’ll want to focus on is convenience. What content can you serve up that will make it even more effortless for your potential customer to convert?
IoT Is Great for Brand Loyalty
Because it is based so much around making things easier and more efficient, the IoT provides plenty of opportunity for you to create repeat customers. From washing machines that let you know when to order more detergent to light bulbs that tell you when to restock, IoT products themselves make ordering more a seamless process. And with virtual assistants that know each customer’s purchase history and can easily repurchase, even unconnected products become part of the network of connected things.
IoT Can Mean Better Customer Service
Of course, all of this data means we as marketers have the ability to provide more personalized service than ever. A location-based message that is helpful, makes your customer’s life more convenient, and includes a perfectly timed promotion? Now that’s communication customers love.
One of the reasons I see so much potential in the Internet of Things is that there’s no central device that serves as the one main hub of the IoT. If anything, you are at he center of the IoT. I am at the center of the IoT. Your customer is at the center of the IoT. This connected web of devices, sending and receiving data, allows each of us to create our own worlds where the easy decisions (like ordering more dog food) are automated, freeing up time for more exploration and discovery. And like the mini technological revolutions we’ve experienced before, the marketers who thrive in this new world will be the creative ones.
Related story: How Will the Internet of Things Impact Publishers?
Sarah Mannone is the Executive Vice President of Trekk, a tech-driven creative services agency. She works with Trekk clients to develop strategic marketing plans and craft measurable programs that that span print, web, social, and mobile. As part of the Trekk management team, Sarah is involved in the decisions and strategy around adopting new technologies and applications to meet the current and future needs of Trekk clients. Sarah is a member of the Forbes Agency Council and a frequent speaker at marketing industry events.