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According to findings from BI Intelligence, the number of devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) will have doubled between 2014 and 2019. Digital technology has blurred the line between online and offline life. From wearable technologies that track your fitness 24/7, to the ability to watch your favorite show while commuting to remote access to electrical devices in the home - the shift to mobile devices has changed how we interact with the world around us.
Find out how IoT technologies are creating new habits and behviors in consumers and what this means for digital marketers.
What Is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) describes any device that has a sensor or connection to the internet, and may also be able to connect to other devices that have the same capabilities. In the current market, there is a seemingly endless array of devices that operate as part of the IoT, including:
- Wearable devices like smartwatches and Fitbit
- Laundry machines
- Coffee makers
- Enabled vehicles
- Digital home assistants like Alexa and Google Home
Major research analysis firm Gartner expects that there will be around 26 billion IoT-connected devices. Not only will our use of these devices change our everyday lives, but various IoT applications will allow organizations to create a whole new array of disruptive business models. However, it’s important to understand how is the IoT currently disrupting the digital marketing landscape and how you can take advantage of this broad industry to design a digital transformation strategy.
How the Internet of Things Impacts People and Behavior
According to a study conducted by Dresner Advisory Services, the majority of industries state that IoT is not important. However, IoT and digital disruption trends all point to the potential of IoT technology to change the face of business and marketing intelligence as we know it. Things like big data and disruptive digital technologies are paving the way for a new digital marketing strategies and technological introductions that can make lives easier.
As we move further into the information age, both professional and personal use of IoT technology will advance further and become a part of everyday life. Similar to technological advancements of the past, it’s difficult to predict exactly how intertwined our daily activities and technology will become in the future. However, it’s important that digital marketers do their best to understand how the current IoT market operates, the risks involved, and how big data is changing the digital marketing industry.
IoT devices will produce unprecedented amounts of data, meaning how we calculate and measure the impact of the devices will have to advance. In addition, it’s up to developers and companies to minimize security risks involved with this massive amount of data storage, tracking, and analyzing.
IoT: Disrupting Digital Marketing
Although the introduction of IoT devices into an increasing number of areas of our life seems like the natural progression of technology use from here, the prominence of these devices is changing industries and how they operate, including digital marketing. This digital disruption requires that professionals in the industry start taking the inevitability of IoT technologies more seriously, as they will not only impact consumer behavior, but the marketing platforms used to grab their attention.
However, best-in-class digital marketers can use this opportunity to create a digital marketing strategy that harnesses the power of IoT technology and adapts to industry-wide change. To make the most out of a disruptive business model, digital marketers must understand how customers will be affected by the IoT and use this digital transformation to their advantage.
So how exactly is the Internet of Things disrupting digital marketing?
1. Big Data is Here to Stay
With the Internet of Things comes access to a wider range of information from various touchpoints. From a digital marketing standpoint, this is immensely helpful in generating a greater understanding of the customer journey from start to finish. For example, marketers are able to see when a customer’s interest in a product begins, their buying journey, up until the point of purchase.
Throughout this journey, digital marketers will also have the opportunity to use this data to their advantage. Because implication of IoT technology allows marketers to see where a customer is on the buying journey, they can also generate more touchpoints for positive customer interaction. With increased access to customers, marketers will be able to find new ways of communicating with them to answer questions and create a connection with the brand at an earlier stage, rather than when a purchase is made.
However, it should be noted that any use of customer data must consider privacy concerns, which will only become stricter with time. TheGeneral Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) set forth by the European Union will become enforceable on May 25th, 2018. Regulations such as these set firm guidelines for how data processors and storage organizations can release customer data, restricting how much big data will be accessible to digital marketers and research companies.
2. Market Research Will Be Enhanced
Although data gathering, processing, and analysis are currently quite sophisticated, the Internet of Things will only make market research for digital marketers bigger and better. In the current market, IoT for B2B enterprises is already an industry norm, and consumer access to IoT devices will do the same for B2C marketers. As discussed above, the prevalence of IoT-enabled devices in the home will allow marketers to have more data to analyze. This surge in data will allow marketers to streamline their processes and reach niche audiences in new ways.
Because of the connection between the IoT and the cloud, marketing professionals will be able to perform better predictive analysis of their target customers evolving wants and needs.
3. The IoT Unlocks Consumer Lifestyle Information
The Internet of Things doesn’t simply access information that a consumer chooses to share publicly on platforms like social media, but information about their everyday lifestyle.
Consider the types of IoT-enabled devices that will be utilized by the general consumer: coffee makers, thermostats, home automation systems, and wearable devices like smartwatches are just a few. These devices are integral parts of a consumer’s everyday lifestyle - from when they wake up in the morning until they go to bed. For digital marketers, access to data on lifestyle trends means that they can see how, when, and why specific products or services are being utilized.
4. The SEO Industry Will Be Impacted
According to Beth Kotz, individuals specializing in SEO will experience a major shift in their industry, thanks in part to the prominence of the IoT as these devices become more advanced.
The IoT is changing how human language is processed by devices and machines, as people frequently pose queries more naturally when spoken as compared to when questions are typed into Google. You can experiment with this theory for yourself: the next time you ask Siri a question, note the wording that you use as compared to typing out your question online. Chances are, you’ll find that your language is more “humanized” when speaking to Siri.
Beth Kotz from Type A Communications goes on to explain that the increasingly frequent use of AI technology like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Home means that “search engines strive to understand the intention of the user as opposed to honing in on a keyword.” No longer will web pages be ranked simply on the inclusion of keywords, but on the natural language that is contained within its content. For marketers, this shift from keyword-based SEO content to intention-based writing will be a major aspect of the IoT landscape.
Using IoT Ethically as Digital Marketing Professionals
As a professional in the digital marketing industry, the privacy of consumers should be of the utmost importance to you, especially as we move into an age where the amount of consumer data will surge. Although many consumers react positively to having product offerings and sales funnels customized to their unique preferences and needs, they also value their privacy both online and offline.
A major challenge that the digital marketing industry will have to overcome is how to develop these personalized purchasing experiences without being perceived as intrusive. To align your digital marketing strategies with the expectations of the consumer, it’s vital that you demonstrate a high level of security and ensure that the consumer information you’re analyzing is protected.
In the same way that data collection will change with the increase in technology use, how marketers utilize this data and interact with consumers will also have to change. It’s imperative that digital marketers start preparing now for the major changes that the IoT will inevitably bring. Start by conveying a sense of trust and understanding of your target audience, and develop a sincere connection with their needs and expectations starting today. Align with your consumer, and use the IoT development as an opportunity to refine your digital marketing strategy.