How Internet of Things changes marketing

Indranil Mukherjee | Updated on January 22, 2018

Near is here Brands are targeting customers with hyper-local mobile messaging to boost sales AURIELAKI/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Imagine the power of a message around an indoor service when rain is forecast

Much has already been written about the evolution of the Internet of Things. The numbers doing the rounds are impressive indeed! It is clear that brand-consumer touch points across the board will be impacted in a big way, if they aren’t already.

Smart, connected products are allowing brands to create new forms of relationships with their customers. With this, marketers are identifying newer ways to connect with their audience. With connected devices enabling the accumulation of usage and other contextual data, marketers now have unprecedented opportunities to gain new insights into how their products and services create value for their customers. They are now able to segment their markets in more sophisticated ways, tailor their products and services to deliver better value to each segment and communicate more effectively with their audience.

Beacons (wireless devices that help deliver targeted mobile content at a particular time and place through a mobile app) are ushering in a wave of Proximity Marketing, as brands target customers with hyper-local mobile messaging to boost sales.

With marketers across a large number of brands already experimenting with beacons, the prospects for proximity marketing seem real bright.

According to an Adobe report, more than 30 per cent of marketers will be actively doing something in this area by the end of 2015. The promise is significant. Already, studies have established that beacons, used in conjunction with the right mobile apps, are far more effective in driving interactions up (in some cases, by as much as 500 per cent) when compared to traditional push notifications with location relevance.

Experiments with beacons have graduated from the labs into real-world deployments with many retailers.

The second largest US retailer Target reportedly is testing the technology in 50 stores this year before going in for a full-fledged nationwide launch in 2016. Other names include Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and GameStop.

Amazing threesome

Beyond these new use cases, the Internet of Things (IoT) is actually creating a shift in the traditional marketing paradigm. Earlier, marketers told platforms which devices to target. In the IoT age, integrated marketing platforms are providing the same directive to marketers, along with the type of message to use for a specific user.

Three new media of connection that have opened up new vistas for marketers in the IoT age are connected digital signage, connected PoS terminals and wearables. Marketers have already started doing amazing things with them. Take, for example, the now famous British Airways “Look Up” campaign in London’s Picadilly Circus.

At the core of this brilliantly conceptualised and executed campaign are a set of smart connected devices, working on real-time information and creating a totally immersive experience for people in the vicinity.

Content has been the “king” in marketing for quite some time now. What the IoT has done is that it has made it possible for the marketer to customise content to the customer’s context and that is immensely powerful.

Imagine communicating a tennis or golf-related service (re-stringing rackets, supplying balls, coaching sessions) right after someone finishes a game.

It is a reality today, with connected tennis rackets and golf clubs already on the market. Add to this the diversity of information that brands can bring into play when communicating with consumers.

Sensors can now supply information about all sorts of things — be it location or the weather or the user’s health. Continuing with the earlier golf example, imagine the power of a piece of communication around an indoor service, when rain is in the forecast. Brands just didn’t have access to these avenues before the advent of the IoT.

As is true for every emerging space, the maturity curve also signifies a period of intense learning and marketers attempting to harness the power of the IoT are no exceptions. Considerations around device fragmentation, customer privacy and such are only beginning to take shape.

One thing is for sure. The ways brands interact with their customers will change dramatically as IoT opens up new opportunities. Marketers too will have to change their orientation and approach to maximise returns from their efforts in this hyper-connected world. It is also highly likely that, all other things remaining the same, brands that move quickly to adopt the IoT in their marketing will outpace their competitors in the days ahead.

Published on September 24, 2015

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