We're on the cusp of a tectonic shift in digital marketing.
The boom in IoT (Internet of Things) technology will soon allow us to analyze, predict, and respond to consumer behavior in almost every market possible.
That sounds amazing ... but what's the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things is the connection of everyday products like cars, alarm clocks, and lights to computing devices via the internet. It allows them to exchange data with each other, providing marketers with more context about their customers' product usage. This enables marketers to deliver more relevant messages and leads to greater customer engagement.
For example, if you run out of milk or it spoils, a refrigerator connected to the internet could recognize your need and display a message on its screen or your phone about the best milk deals in town. You could even order a carton through one of those devices if the refrigerator company partnered with a grocery store.
Since IoT technology connects the internet with objects that are ubiquitous in our daily lives, marketers in almost every industry will be able to engage consumers throughout every phase of the customer journey.
The term “Big Data” is an understatement for the amount of data IoT devices will produce. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, IoT devices and sensors will exceed mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices in 2018 and generate a staggering 400 zettabytes of data per year.
IoT's surge will overjoy marketers because they can leverage these massive data sets to integrate consumer behavioral signals into their marketing stack. This will allow them to capture interactions, conversion metrics, and consumer behavior predictions and link them to purchase-intent data.
Access to this data is exciting, but it could also lead to confusion. Marketers might not know how to interpret this unprecedented influx of information. Changes to the digital marketing landscape are clearly on the horizon. So check out these six predictions of how IoT will influence digital marketing's growth and evolution and how you can prepare for it.
1) New digital devices will emerge.
Since anything connected to the internet could be an avenue for consumer engagement, marketers will move beyond today’s digital devices like laptops, mobile, and tablets.
For instance, we could use things like car and refrigerator monitors as possible touch points. Amazon already leverages IoT with their Dash buttons, allowing consumers to order a product with the push of a wifi-connected button.
2) IoT data, attribution, and analytics will revolutionize contextual marketing.
IoT devices generate unprecedented amounts of data, so every customer interaction allows marketers to capture consumer intent, behavior, needs, and desires. This makes it possible to serve contextually relevant marketing messages at the most optimal place and time.
Understanding a consumer’s behavior, purchase patterns, and location also provides a level of attribution, analytics, and predictive capabilities that were previously unavailable. Based on signals from IoT devices, we'll be able to push timely notifications to consumers when they need to purchase something rather than waiting for them to show interest.
These insights and the ability to accurately attribute every interaction throughout the customer journey will be groundbreaking.
3) Marketing technology platforms will treat IoT data like their first born.
Marketing platforms and technologies will be able to ingest and use IoT data similarly to how cookies and unique IDs (UIDs) are used today. These platforms will also use IoT signals to further evolve our current cross-device technologies.
Developing platforms and technologies capable of ingesting, analyzing, and acting on these vast data sets will be a very complex undertaking. But evolution in digital marketing AI and machine learning applications will produce marketing technology platforms that can process, interpret, and evaluate these data sets in near real-time.
In other words, expect many new entrants in the marketing technology space to tackle this challenge.
4) The agency's role will evolve.
Along with the traditional responsibilities of agencies, they will start playing an increasingly technical, data-centric role as technology partners. Agencies will help build their client's platforms, develop their internal systems, and manage the implementation of tagging elements.
The agency staff's skill set must adapt to the evolution of their role, though. They'll need to develop an agile approach to managing campaigns, marketing initiatives, pricing, and product development.
Keen understanding of the data packets IoT devices can produce will become commonplace, as well as knowing what the actionable endpoints within a customer journey are.
5) Marketers will be able to deliver timely, personalized messages that align with their customer's lifecycle stage
The ability to deliver timely, personalized messages at the precise moment to the optimal device will transform digital marketing. For example, using data collected from a fitness wearable and proximity data collected from beacons, digital marketers could deliver fitness product messaging or emails when the user is near a relevant advertiser’s store, like a smoothie joint.
The possibilities for using a combination of these signals to provide highly relevant messaging at the optimal moment are unlimited.
IoT could also provide marketers with the information to improve customer experience and determine when they should send acquisition or retention marketing messages. One example is using offline purchases coupled with proximity data from IoT devices in a brick and mortar store to target recent purchasers with an upsell email or social campaigns asking for product feedback to send to their peers.
6) There will be increased scrutiny of privacy and security.
With great data, comes great responsibility. We can expect more privacy and security regulations and technologies focused on protecting both consumer and enterprise data.
Methods such as network segmentation, device-to-device authentication, and bolstered encryption techniques will likely emerge to prevent IoT devices from being compromised.
The data created by the Internet of Things will unleash considerable digital marketing potential. Predicting exactly how these changes will play out is not exact, but the evolution is already underway.
The only question is: will you be prepared for it?
Originally published Jul 11, 2018 6:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017