Envisioned in science fiction movies and literature, praised by futurologists and damned by traditionalists, the Internet of Things (IoT) is closer than we can imagine. Earlier this year, two important market players, Amazon and Google, launched devices combining entertainment with smart-home management, thus paving the way to a genuine IoT revolution.
Marketers cannot, and must not, dismiss this opportunity. With the networking and integration capacity of such systems comes a wealth of data, information, and behavioral patterns. The change will go deeper than that, forcing businesses and marketing agencies to revisit their roles and the way they interact with their customers.
Sure, it’s disruptive, but it’s also highly beneficial. Businesses can now oversee the use of data and build more proficient platforms and systems.
Change is upon us, and it’s going to have a dramatic impact on how we use online marketing tools, such as social media or Google advertising, to communicate and connect with our target audience. So, what can you do to capitalize on the situation and jump the line?
Here are some ideas:
- Start Collecting and Categorizing Data
Devices and systems will become more and more connected, and people will rely on them to get through everyday life. Whether finding a parking space, managing your energy consumption or getting groceries when you’re out, consumers will be generating more data than ever before. And, that’s a gold mine for marketers and entrepreneurs.
A word of caution, though: this wealth of information can also become a burden if it’s not sorted through and accurately categorized. Dismiss all that is not necessary and focus on what can help to grow your business.
Use data to learn about consumer patterns and identify the gaps in the buying cycle. With this information at hand, you can find new, innovative ways of attracting prospects and making smart product recommendations.
- Manage and Adjust Your Inventory
If you are an eCommerce business, for example, you can use consumer data to update and improve your stock. Warehouses and offices will be run just as smart homes, with information being transmitted in real-time between devices. As a result, you will be able to use your qualified workforce for more creative jobs and improve the quality of your interaction with your customers.
- Provide Personalized Experiences
To each his own, as it were. The ‘smarter’ the homes, cars and cities become, the easier it is for businesses to understand their audience and its needs.
Keep in mind though, that since you have access to a wealth of information, you will be expected to meet consumer needs in a more up-close manner. Use all the data you gather to understand consumer behavior and provide better goods and services. For instance, you can use data coming from a customer’s fitness tracker and pair it up with their shopping patterns to promote your new line of clothes or footwear.
- Use IoT in Products and Campaigns
From augmented reality to books which start on paper but are continued in an online game and to layers of maps for smart cities, the sky’s the limit when it comes to IoT.
Include devices in your campaigns or design products based on the audience’s appetence for technology, therefore presenting yourself as a cutting-edge company which understands and embraces the future.
- Train Your Staff to Handle IoT and Clients
The more connected your business becomes, the greater the need to train your staff to handle technology and, more importantly, appease clients who may become skittish because of a perceived invasion of their privacy and security.
This is not a situation you should overlook: some people are already skeptical about ‘Big Brother’ watching them, and they will only grow more aggravated. It is your job to mitigate their fears, seduce and retain them. Use every marketing tool in your arsenal, from Google advertising to content marketing to educate them about the benefits of IoT.
The Internet of Things is the future. Although adoption is still rather slow, integrated devices will manage our daily lives soon enough. Online marketing cannot lag just because consumers are slow to adapt. You need to anticipate the changes before they come to life. In other words, you need to prepare for the sheer amounts of data coming your way and start coming up with solutions for categorizing it. You also need to focus on training your staff and shifting work patterns.
Finally, learn how to embrace devices and make them work in your favor. Although earlier predictions advanced the number of 50 billion connected devices by 2020, the market is now forecasting around 30 billion, which is still a lot. We’re talking about an industry that is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, so it’s paramount to learn how to put it to good use.