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Staying Relevant in a Connected World: Marketing in the Internet of Things

As the world becomes more digitally connected, relevant touchpoints on the path to purchase are sprouting up in new places on a daily basis. From widely used smartwatches that track your fitness activity to medicine containers that remind you when to refill a prescription, we live in a truly connected world.

And it’s largely thanks to what is known as the Internet of Things.

What is the Internet of Things?
Even if you’re not in the marketing industry, you’ve probably heard the term. The Internet of Things (IoT) essentially refers to the connection of everyday, physical objects to the Internet. Taking a step beyond computers and smartphones, IoT expands the concept of digital connection to include virtually any object you can imagine.

  • Cars can map traffic in real time and track your location.
  • Electric toothbrushes automatically reorder brush heads and share brushing habits with dentists.
  • Home appliances are gaining some serious traction.
  • Countless other activities, from watering plants to monitoring your heart rate, are being controlled through apps and devices.

What does this mean? The world is becoming digital, and the Internet is — quite literally — everywhere.

How is IoT Affecting Consumer Behavior?
People are much more comfortable with new technology when it fits into their everyday lives. Wearable devices are estimated to grow by nearly 25% this year, reaching nearly 39.5 million people in the U.S., according to eMarketer. These devices, such as fitness bands and smartwatches, are increasingly affordable to the average consumer, but more importantly, they make people’s lives easier.

One of our key industry categories at hfa is Home & Living, which is a significant growth area for IoT. People want to make their home lives easier, too, and don’t want to go out of their way to make something work. While consumer adoption of smart home assistants is relatively slow (as most still see it as a novelty), products like voice assistants and other home systems such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are on the rise. Security is also a major consideration. People want to feel safe in their homes and have the ability to monitor things while they’re away, which is why smart home cameras are gaining popularity.

Streamlining the Buying Cycle
IoT is changing the way people approach purchasing products in general. In the span of a few years, we’ve moved from buying online to buying with our smartphones to automatically ordering products. Someday in the not-too-distant future, this will be the norm.

What Are the Opportunities for Marketers?
While consumers are starting to evolve into a more connected life, resistance to fully adopting IoT still exists mainly due to issues such as cost, privacy concerns and installation difficulty.

How does this mean we should start thinking about IoT from a marketing perspective? Here are three things to consider:

Insights. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of IoT is the information and insight we can gain from all these “things&lrquo; being digitally connected. We can vastly improve marketing strategies by uncovering new information about what consumers’ interests are, where they go, what they enjoy and what they purchase.

Utility. When I think about IoT marketing opportunities, I’m not necessarily interested in placing an ad on a smart fridge screen (although it’s not an unrealistic option for some brands — think consumer packaged goods). It’s more advantageous to naturally integrate into connected items that match a brand’s utility. It will develop a higher likelihood for trust and eventually — purchase.

Experience. Make it contextual. Become part of the experience instead of trying to push your message on the consumer. Keep people interested in your products by offering new ways to make their lives easier. These types of messages can also be much more relevant when connecting with people in real time (for example, knowing when they’re near a purchase versus just researching).

So Now What?
Approaching IoT for marketing is not unlike the way we approach any other touchpoint. We simply ask ourselves: what’s the connection that reaches our audience at the right time with the right message? Get in touch with hfa to hear how we’re helping brands answer this question and stay relevant in the ever-evolving world of IoT marketing.