Marketing in the age of Internet of Things

By the year 2020, there will be approximately 25 billion connected objects in the world — constantly gathering and ingesting data, and interacting with the existing internet infrastructure. This is predicted to produce around $2 trillion of economic benefit globally. What does this mean for marketers? Better market segmentation, sharply-tailored customer communication, and an accurate understanding of the value your products create.
Smart, connected products are constantly creating new opportunities for businesses — with the product becoming the medium through which the brand and the customer stay in contact, long after the initial purchase is over. This has created a huge opportunity for cross-selling and up-selling — and traditional sales and marketing models are being overhauled in favor of new age approaches that leverage insights gained from product usage data.
The Digital Economy and Changing Customer Relationships
Let us look at the impact of intelligent products in the manufacturing industry: In terms of connected things, manufacturing had nearly 307 million installed units in 2015. This includes sensors and smart meter deployments for enhanced operations management, predictive maintenance, condition-based maintenance, and most importantly — smart customer-relationship management. In short, the IoT is already helping companies gain efficiency and speed, which in turn enables better service and decision-making. The onset of this connected ecosystem also creates the possibility of addressing new markets, irrespective of geographies, and of ensuring better and more precise customer segmentation. This is followed by precise targeting of purchasing customers. Personalized promotions are quickly becoming the norm as push and location-based notifications target customers at the right time, and at the right place. Integrated marketing platforms help identify potential devices that can be targeted, and enable marketers to select customer-oriented communication content.
Marketing with a Tech-Edge
There have been some incredibly successful IoT-centered marketing campaigns in recent times. Consider the popular British Airways’ #lookup campaign in London’s Piccadilly Circus: Titled ‘The Magic of Flying’, it featured an interactive video billboard, showcasing general advertising content, until a British Airways flight flew overhead. At this point, a British Airways advertisement was triggered featuring a child who stood up and pointed at the flight. The ‘digital wizardry’ was completed with the billboard being updated in real time, displaying the flight’s number and origin, and the call to action: #lookup.
What forms the core of this brilliantly conceptualized and effectively executed campaign?
Multiple intelligent devices working in real time and building a completely immersive experience for the customer or spectator. At this point, brands are ensuring that it is not just about the right message, delivered at the right time, but also about the format in which the brand message is being delivered.
The Future of Marketing
The permeation of the IoT will drive more consumer-specific insights into the marketing strategies of organizations. The multiplicity of devices and sensors are giving rise to new data points that are becoming more and more relevant to the present-day marketer. I believe the biggest impact of the IoT on marketing will be in these three areas:
Effective and personalized campaigns: Connected products now provide a larger-than-ever scope of data collection. Manufacturers can leverage this data to customize products and services for end users.
Insights for CRM: With more options for real-time consumer preference monitoring and analytics on usage behavior and buying patterns, marketers can leverage essential insights to build and execute their CRM strategy.
Predictive capabilities: Self-diagnosing devices, within the IoT framework, are bringing down the logistics cost and after-sales service challenges for manufacturers. In fact, consumer data and product reviews on social media are helping firms identify and locate key influencers and generate content that is most relevant.
A robust IoT strategy would help create highly-differentiated product offerings in a competitive market, while ensuring operational excellence. The IoT eliminates information gaps and siloes, creating a seamless flow of data across departments. The future marketer in the manufacturing industry needs to thoroughly understand these implications, and work towards recognizing and unlocking business potential.