The Internet of Things (IoT) may sound like a business buzzword, but in reality, it’s a real technological revolution that will impact everything we do. It's a gigantic wave of new possibility that is destined to change the face of technology as we know it.
IoT is the interconnectivity between things using wireless communication technology (each with their own unique identifiers) to connect objects, locations, animals, or people to the internet, thus allowing for the direct transmission of and seamless sharing of data.
In essence, it refers to everyday devices that are able to automatically exchange information over a network. IoT will also have a great impact on our everyday lives in that it will change the way traffic, weather, pollution, and the environment are monitored and how data is collected.
Common tasks will be outsourced such as having a sprinkler system automatically check local weather conditions before turning on. Smart devices will give us deeper control over our lives, such as enhancing a door lock so that it contacts you when someone opens it when you're on vacation.
IoT is already among us with the Nike Fuelband, Google Glass, Fitbit, and the rumors of an iWatch from Apple -- all being popular examples of our increasingly connected lives.
As great as these are, these technologies are just scraping the surface. IoT will soon mean more than just smart refrigerators, environmental alerts, and wearable technology; IoT will have the enormous impact on the way we do business, specifically where marketing is concerned. Here’s 5 ways that IoT will improve marketing ROI:
One of the most valuable commodities to any business is it's sales data. By having access to information regarding how, where, and why your products are being purchased and used, you’ll be able to better tailor your marketing efforts towards your specific clients.
Smart devices that can gather this data and supply it back to you in real time, without the need for IT professionals to direct or monitor the interaction, will allow businesses to to create informed marketing strategies and improve ROI on future sales.
Perhaps even more important, you’re customers will be able to provide useful feedback instantaneously. So, if a specific product isn’t living up to expectations, you won’t have to wait very long at all to find out about it, which means that you’ll be able to cut your losses much sooner than later.
When used in conjunction with a dependable customer relationship management (CRM) tool, the IoT will be able to do more than simply gather and organize client data; it will be able to efficiently and accurately analyze that data as well, providing you with actionable results regarding your consumer base.
For marketers, this can be invaluable, given that the buyer’s chain of command is often long, and decisions take more time to be made. IoT devices can streamline this process by helping you understand where your prospect is in their buying journey, so that you’ll be able to make every second of every day count towards resolving issues and serving them the right information that will nurture them to ultimately close a deal.
One of the more promising aspects of smart-enabled products is their potential ability to perform their own regular maintenance and diagnostics.
Automobiles have been self-disgnosing themselves for sometime - but it was a clunky method that relied on inexact signals. With the power of IoT, every component is "smarter" so the ability to identify the problem, as well as the solution, will be lightning quick in comparison.
When it comes to conventional items and devices, often the first sign that anything is wrong comes when the device abruptly stops functioning altogether. When this happens, there’s not much that can be done, aside from getting it repaired or ordering a whole new device and waiting for it to arrive.
IoT devices could eliminate that down-time, by constantly monitoring their own functions and contacting technical support when necessary. And should a major, irreparable problem be detected, the IoT device could easily order a replacement for itself, so that when it finally does shut down, the new model will already have arrived and be ready to be put into service.
The same goes for upgrades. Many users will put off upgrading their devices out of fear that the new upgrade will be buggy, time-consuming to implement, or that something will go wrong. Unfortunately, not upgrading software often leaves the devices open to security compromises or known problematic issues. IoT devices would take feet-dragging users out of the equation, and search for, download, and install new upgrades completely on their own.
When Facebook and Twitter first hit the scene several years ago, most marketers were less-than convinced that these new “social media” sites would be worth targeting. We all know how well that turned out. Today, 74% of brand marketers report that they see a noticeable increase in web traffic after investing a mere 6 hours a week in social media marketing efforts.
The IoT is already optimized for use with social media, allowing automated posts and shares to be regularly generated by the devices themselves, and preparing the way for new online communities to develop centered around users of particular devices.
Marketers who are able to predict the development of these social communities, and target their efforts towards these communities, will be able to reach potential customers that may not have previously been available. Likewise, IoT devices, when coupled with social media, will allow marketers to identify and take advantage of new emerging trends.
Brought together, these factors all point towards one final goal: smarter, more relevant advertising.
As increasing numbers of our once-unconnected devices and objects are being fitted with sensors and given constant network accessibility, the face of advertising is going to change for both the marketer and the consumer.
No longer will marketers rely on banner ads or popups based off a website you visited on Tuesday; most IoT devices will be completely unable to process or even display such crude ploys.
As a result, the age of the interruptive commercial will finally come to an end on the consumer side. In it’s place will be a new world in which advertising must be beneficial and completely relevant where no prospect is served an advertisement that doesn't 100% align with their interests, behaviors, and past purchases.
How is this possible? An example would be a light bulb going dark in your "smart" home. The connected home could not only make note of the need for a replacement, but could also provide the homeowner a digital coupon for a new bulb sent directly to their smartphone. Even better, the exact number of hours that the light bulb has been in use can be recorded and transmitted, letting you know that the light bulb is coming to the end of it's life.
Not only will the consumer save time by only being served relevant ads, but marketing will no longer waste thousands of dollars on irrelevant advertising.
Marketers would need to have a detailed understanding of their consumers in order to take advantage of the new opportunities being made available, but those who are able to make the transition will find that the IoT allows them the opportunity to stop being marketers, and finally start being valued business resources.
The Internet of Things isn’t going anywhere; in fact, it's coming right at you fast; with an expected approximately 75 billion connections by 2020. So, with billions of new things becoming “smarter,” don’t let your marketing strategy remain dumb.
Think about how you currently interact with your products and apps. Think deeper into how your marketing can leverage smart devices now because the Internet of Things will give a whole new meaning to the adage "Work smarter, not harder."