For most of the “smartphone age,” digital marketers have enjoyed the relative luxury of thinking of customer engagement as binary: a relationship between marketers and their target consumers. The marketer had a message to deliver (offer, coupon, etc.), and the consumer had a device on which to receive it.
In the coming year we can expect to see this calculus undergo a significant transformation. As more “things” become connected, marketers will be challenged to act and react based on their customers’ interactions with a growing variety of connected and addressable “things.” Gartner predicts that by 2020 we’ll have 26 billion smart and connected products in use.
So what will this transformation mean for your business?
For starters, marketers will need to change the way they look at the customer journey. Whereas before you could engage your customers when they were “in store” or “on screen,” you’ll now be challenged to engage them with the right message at the right time as they interact with the newly hyper-connected Internet of Things.
Let’s start with the home. In addition to the playful part of the Internet of Things (connected refrigerators, washing machines and microwaves) we have begun to see a more serious penetration into the home by Google (with its Nest products), Amazon (with its Echo device) and Apple (with the Siri capabilities of its newest Apple TV). This means these brands may now have an unprecedented presence in your customers’ homes.
Amazon’s Echo device — while still in its infancy — is currently the most ambitious. Sure it can be voice-summoned to play Billy Joel, update the news and provide the weather. But more importantly for marketers, it’s already collecting shopping lists (“we need more ketchup”) and adding them to a mobile app . . . owned by Amazon. If you’re a retailer or even a consumer goods manufacturer, what might this mean for your business? How do you prevent further disintermediation by Amazon, Apple or Google?
Outside the home, the challenge of the Internet of Things is also a great opportunity. Ironically, perhaps, the Internet of Things is now diminishing the divide between “bricks” and “clicks.” Marketers will be able to “tag” zones in their businesses much the way digital marketers have been tagging their websites and apps. In addition, retailers and other venue owners will be tracking “entry” and “dwell” events — similar to how digital marketers track website visits — and adjusting their marketing and product mix in real time to maximize efficiencies and customer experience.
The key to a successful Internet of Things strategy will require adopting a marketing orchestration platform from which you can consume and leverage the data from increasingly connected “things.” With this new power, marketers in 2016 and beyond will be able to execute effective, contextually cognitive marketing campaigns that will serve to influence consumer intent at unprecedented levels.
For more on the top digital marketing trends of 2016, please check out our white paper, “10 Key Marketing Trends for 2016 and Ideas for Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences.”
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2) Blog: “To App or Not to App: 3 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Mobile App for Omnichannel Marketing”
3) Tip Sheet: “7 Tips for Incorporating SMS into Your Marketing Efforts”