When we think of the Internet of Things (IoT), we think mostly of manufacturing and production, along with the gathering of data. It is that data that is of the most interest to marketers, but gathering, analyzing, and using it can be pretty challenging. How do we, as marketers, leverage the Internet of Things creatively?
Web Design and Apps
Technically the Internet of Things is any device connected to the internet that can provide data that trigger an action. These actions could be a smart trash can communicating with a central hub about the level of trash in it and prompt the emptying of it. Another example would be an ambulance or fire truck indicating to traffic lights to change to allow them to pass through intersections safely.
Cities are not the only ones who make use of the Internet of Things. They are used in the home as well. Many systems monitor various things around the house. Some monitor the amount of energy being used in your home and can divert power or shut off appliances not being used. They can detect people in a room and turn off lights if it does not sense someone in that room.
Almost any device can control actions triggered by the Internet of Things. They can monitor IoT systems and change the settings in real time to take immediate effect. This includes smartphones, wearables, laptops, and tablets among many other things.
This is why a responsive or AMP ready site is so vital. An open-source project backed by Google, AMP is an open-source platform for multiple devices that allows for faster page-loading on mobile devices. Because it is open-sourced, any publisher can develop their websites using the AMP coding. It is also important that if practicable, your brand creates apps that not only benefit your customer but share data with you that you can utilize to personalize their web journey.
While web personalization is much more complex when you go deeper, the relation to the internet of things is that everything from your domain name to the fonts, colors, photos, and text on your site must provide the optimal user experience, and location and other factors can personalize even a customer’s initial visit.
Products as Media
“This product sells itself, “salesman often say, and it may never be a truer statement than it is today. Your product actually can sell itself, and other products.
For instance, think of the Strava app. It will post your run, cycle, or workout to social media for you, allowing you to share your activity with friends. At the same time, you will be advertising the app and its benefits to those same friends.
On the more extreme end of things, printers and other devices can now be embedded with Amazon Dash Button technology. Not only does the product sell itself, it orders itself when quantities are low. “Never run out of ink again,” is the pitch, and it is true. The user will never run out, because the product reorders itself.
A couple of years ago, Diageo Whisky set themselves up as the best gift for Father’s Day. They set aside 100,000 bottles of whiskey and allowed buyers to connect to the internet so users could send a personalized digital message to the recipient.
In this case, the giver (and purchaser) actually created the advertising message to the recipient, strengthening the reach of the brand in a crowd-sourced and innovative way.
Products as a Service
From fans to toasters, from smart yoga mats to smart coffee makers, the Internet of Things allows consumers to connect the devices they use every day with their smartphones, computers, or tablets and control them.
While some of these things, like the fitness collars for dogs, may seem a bit ridiculous at first, and who knows how long they will last, they do serve as a proof of concept for what can be done.
More practical things, like Tesla cars, which update through the internet and can sometimes even be repaired remotely, are already utilizing the Internet of Things to make their customers feel taken care of. Smart lighting systems and other such products, and once a customer has one system in one room, they are much more likely to install them more widely.
In this case, the device itself is marketing itself, and the word of mouth of those customers sharing with their friends is invaluable.
Connecting Service Ecosystems
What if you could connect two systems, things people were doing anyway? Spotify has taken advantage of this in a big way.
In a Starbucks coffee shop, a student studying can put in headphones and listen to “what is playing at Starbucks” without being disturbed by the patrons around them. It’s a brilliant way to make the customer comfortable and at the same time market Spotify. How does the customer access this feature? Through their Starbucks app, encouraging the customer to have that as well.
The same is true of Uber. Once you get in your Uber ride you can use the app, if the driver has enabled the feature, to play your Spotify music through the car speakers. The marketing works the same as the Starbucks principle: Spotify gets the advertising either way, but also promotes both Starbucks and Uber.
This is just one example, but it could easily be used as a concept to do the same with many other partnerships, potentially benefiting both brands.
These brands then share data. Each has customer information that the other does not, and the mixing of the two gives each company a much stronger profile, something they can use to increasingly personalize the user experience for both brands.
The Internet of Things will in some way impact nearly any business over the next few years, and it is estimated that 1 in 3 businesses started in 2020 will utilize the IoT in one way or another. For marketers, it changes the way we gather data, interact with our customers, convert them, and make them our customers for life.