Updated: Jan 20
In a near future, connected devices will start making decisions on what to buy and how to improve their own performance. We as humans will leave "things" on autopilot and empower Internet of Things to become a fully autonomous world. The question is: how digital marketing will change in the era of connected things?
Internet of Things is becoming a disruptive force and is changing the way we live and doing business. Every day more and more devices are connected to internet and businesses are using more tools to monitor their behavior.
On the other hand, in this digital world, marketing is becoming more and more specialized and customized towards end users and consumers behavior patterns. We, as strategist and marketers are trying to predict where the consumers and customers are moving so we can stay relevant in the marketplace. Now, the challenge in IoT era is, how to market for "connected things"?
Smart devices are now becoming more and more mainstream for consumers and businesses. Everything is becoming smart. Smart TVs, smart speakers, smart watches, smart lighting, smart fridges and so on. There will be a time that these devices are all connected to a centralized valet or credit card and they can start transacting with the market on their own with some predefined conditions. The big question is: how marketing will change in those days?
The answer is lying in "Data". As we all know, even now, organizations are collecting as many data as they can from all these connected devices. Businesses are now becoming a data business. IoT organizations and startups are creating as many data points as they can so they can understand how consumers are using their products. This will give them a great platform so they can start optimizing their products and services to end users requirements. Now, the same approach can be used so organizations move to predictive marketing. This means that with the amount of data that companies now have, they can start predictions on how end users will move and what will be the next thing for them. Then marketers can start making targeted focused and customized campaigns based on customers specific needs.
“People, rightly or wrongly, will often make purchasing decisions based on emotion. And their timing and behaviour may be unpredictable,” he says.
So what happens when ‘things’ become customers? “The evidence is there that more and more things, backed up by intelligent systems, are taking up the behaviours of us as customers. The question then becomes: How do you market to a thing?” Scheibenreif asks.
Whereas humans might rely on emotion, things will rely on logic. This is one of the most profound implications for marketing, according to Scheibenreif.
“Appealing to somebody’s sense of style won’t work if you’re marketing to the smart home. What will work is if your organisation has enough insight about what’s important to the home owner and making sure your messages are targeted to address the parameters the house has been programmed with for purchasing decisions,” he continues.
My own personal prediction will be "things" will make decisions based on pure logic. However, their logic still will be affected by human emotions. Since, we as humans and consumers will have our own emotions that running our lives shape our behavior, then based on those behaviors the connected devices will make decision on how to optimize their moves. So, things will not go out of hand, at least immediately. Human users are still in control with another layer of complexity added to our lives.
Digital marketers need to understand how to optimize their approach to the new wave of technology and connected things. They need to come up with problem solving approach which will be very different from today's theme which is educational based marketing.
Today's marketing is heavily relying on education based approach which means organizations are investing a lot on educating their target market so they can shift their prospect behavior and purchasing decisions when the time comes.
With connected devices and Internet of Things, the approach will be totally different. Since you do not need to train or educate devices, as they already are connected, marketers should think of problem solving approach. Means that they have to think about what problems their prospects or customers will have, and how they can provide end to end solution in place with one click.
Let's face it. The way that connected devices and IoT solutions communicate with each other and with organizations is through "one click". So, everything will be one click away from these connected things.
We have already seen how Amazon is transforming the retail market with "one-click" purchase option. The future of the businesses will need to go to that direction. This maybe challenging with B2B businesses, but for B2C organizations, this will be a must.
This means, companies must think of "one-click" option from now and start to think about potential business impact and indeed, how marketing will be affected.
The other trend that will be the result of data driven marketing for Internet of Things will be "data sharing". As the result of businesses becoming data platforms, organizations and startups will be in a position that can exchange or share their data with each other so they can bring even more value for their collective customers. Joint marketing will be transformed to whole another level and now marketers can use each others data to do more accurate predictions.
This approach initially seems scary from data privacy perspective. The idea of your data to be shared with different organizations. However, the regulations will hopefully become more stronger and will keep up with the technology. The example will be GDPR that is now protecting customers data privacy and companies need to get user's permission to share and use their data. I personally believe that regulations will evolve to cater for these use cases.