Most marketers are aware of the Internet of Things (IoT) and know that it is important, but many do not fully understand IoT – how it works, its impact on consumers and how its influence has changed over time – nor how it continues to change on a daily basis.
Businesses struggling with the nitty-gritty of the Internet of Things, shrugging their shoulders & pushing it farther down their marketing to-do lists, might consider the following advice.
The Internet of Things: A Two-Sentence Definition
In the most essential terms, the Internet of Things refers to physical objects – from cars to refrigerators and medical devices – connected to the internet. Those goods are equipped with electronics & network connectivity hardware that enables them to tap into the internet & communicate with computers & other internet-linked devices.
This is a relatively new addition to mainstream technology, but the list of IoT devices is rapidly expanding. Actually the growth of such devices is likely to skyrocket over the next year or so with potentially huge business & marketing implications.
The Evolution of the Internet of Things
The idea of the Internet of Things is older than you may expect. Peter Lewis first coined the term in 1985 when speaking at an FCC-supported wireless session of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. At the time he referred to IoT as “the integration of people, processes, and technology with connectable devices & sensors.”
Although Lewis’s term did not take off immediately, the Internet of Things became a more popular concept starting in the late 1990s & early 2000s. Technology innovators envisioned IoT transforming daily life for users, enabling devices to respond instantly & remotely to users’ needs and demands. The technologyhas gained more steam over the last few years, particularly with the developed prevalence of wearable technology and smart devices, including the light and door home sensors we are all becoming familiar with.
The Internet of Things has just continued to grow and gain popularity among tech companies & innovators. Gartner recently predicted that internet-connected cars (“smart cars”) will account for a quarter billion of the vehicles on the road by 2020. Overall predictions for the sucess of IoT devices in general estimate that the number in use will explode from 4.9 billion in 2015 – 25 billion by 2020. That is some seriously fast growth, even by tech industry standards.
Consumers Are IOT Dependent
I am betting you’ve noticed this trend: There is no question that the Internet of Things & increasingly smart devices have made the each day consumer more dependent on technology.
From fitness wearables that monitor & transmit health stats to mobile device apps & the once-mythical self-driving car, IoT devices are here to stay. In fact, they are already changing daily life for consumers. Since the advent of smartphones nearly everyone carries a miniature computer in his / her pocket –IoT technology manufacturers are increasingly tapping into this market.
How SMBs Are Incorporating IOT Into Their Business
The question is: With big corporations & manufacturers already tapping into the marketing potential of the Internet of Things, how could local small-to-medium businesses leverage this technology?
While the answer may be complicated, IoT technology is prevalent and pervasive that not taking advantage of it means almost certain failure. Fortunately, there’re ways small businesses can incorporate IoT technology into their business plans at a relatively low cost.
Valarm, for instance, is a small start-up specializing in monitoring systems. Valarm has found several ways to incorporate inexpensive internet-connected sensors into its products. One innovative sollution was recycling old smartphones, which came with negligible up-front costs, transforming them into mobile sensors.
Valarm’s innovations help companies take advantage of IoT technology on a low-cost scale, small, from microbreweries that need help controlling ventilation to take CO2 levels down to delivery services in need of tracking devices to verify, in real-time, when products are received / dropped off.
The Internet of Things Means Increased Insights, More Reaching Out & Greater Customer Satisfaction
The future of marketing will rely heavily on the Internet of Things and connected devices. In the coming years, it’ll become increasingly important for marketers to have a keen understanding of how IoT technology works & its implications for reaching consumers.
The Internet of Things will influence marketing by:
- Supportingincreased insights into consumer behavior, including buying patterns & likes and dislikes. Why are consumers buying certain products & not others? The Internet of Things will quickly reveal the answer.
- Offering marketers a deeper & more enhanced understanding of what motivates customers to buy. IoT devices show where potential customers are in the decision-making process. With such detailed information, marketers could be better equipped to serve customers & close transactions.
- Making the customer experience more personal & enjoyable. For example, marketers will communicate with potential customers via smartphones to support personalized assistance with product selection.
- Allowing marketers to tap into social media to meet customers where they’re, drawing in more business. Marketers will take advantage of trends by making specific campaigns for social platforms, reaching a far wider demographic.
- Ensuring that SEO-optimized content will achieve more customers. Marketers will create content, like press releases, product promotions, or blogs, optimize it to target prospective customers. Comfortable with keywords on search engines? Fear not, as keywords continue to be a fast, cost-effective way for a local business to expand its consumer base. Adding product demo videos & photos will also be tech-savvy ways to draw attention.
- Connecting small company marketing to a wider, internet-based marketing ecosystem. Business ventures & consumers once beyond the reach of a start-up / small business will become more accessible.
The Internet of Things is here to stay. How local SMBs & marketers respond & adapt will make all the difference in their future success & sustainability.