The Future of Marketing: Embracing IoT & Learning How to Market Moments, Not Things

What’s our most important job as marketers? To create a compelling vision for tomorrow that resonates with and connects people with our products, brands and messages. What distinguishes great marketers is their unwavering focus on those people — on their needs, behaviors, intentions, wants — and an ability to avoid the shiny temptation of solely marketing things. This distinction has never been more critical. As technology advances and devices proliferate at unprecedented speed, the allure of marketing things will quickly prove both insatiable and unmanageable.

Changes in technology can be exciting, but also frightening to every marketer. Collectively, as an industry, we need to take a fresh look at how to influence, market and sell to key decision makers, while staying focused on the people and motivations behind the screens and technologies.

Current techniques such as asking for social likes, buying pop up ads or creating blast email campaigns will not win over your average customer. Each device, €”in fact each customer interaction, is a conduit for learning. The best marketers will take advantage of both and find them to be unexpectedly helpful in the moments that matter.

Marketing in the Moment

Of all the technology trends that are taking place right now, perhaps the biggest one is the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s the one that’s going to give us the most disruption as well as the most opportunity over the next few years.

There is no one sector where the Internet of Things is making the biggest impact; it will disrupt every industry imaginable, including transportation, government, agriculture, disaster management, and healthcare, just to name a few.

So what is the Internet of Things exactly? At its core, IoT is centered around increased machine-to-machine communication. It’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection; and it’s going to make everything in our lives from houses to railways “smart.” With a flood of smart devices and everything wifi and social media equipped, our world is shifting towards being completely connected in every aspect and moment imaginable.

For example, smart tech is going to disrupt healthcare. We know that products like Nest offer a camera to monitor your home and offer a host of apps that facilitate and encourage safety and security. Now imagine the use case for at home healthcare in elder services (a booming segment desperately in need for innovation). What if you need someone to check on your elderly parent, but you are traveling for business? What if you could see whether or not that person was eating on schedule or taking their blood pressure medicine on time? What if there was an accompanying monitor to sense actual blood pressure levels and in the event that it spiked, it actually alerted the right people at the right time? Woah! Right?

Perhaps you’re noticing a theme here. One of the biggest advantages of smart technologies is their ability to predict and prevent problems. That is to say, the real value that the Internet of Things creates is at the intersection of gathering and leveraging data. But, all the information gathered by all the sensors in the world isn’t worth very much if there isn’t an infrastructure in place to analyze it and act on it in real time.

By 2020, the number of devices connected to the Internet is expected to exceed 40 billion. We will have the ability to gather virtually unlimited intelligence in real time.

So, how will we make this intelligence useful? Well, companies like Interana already use this type of intelligence as data points that are, simply put, moments in time (or events as they call them; timestamps and attributes of an action). These moments are the heart of any business and the key to better understanding and serving customers. By adding information about where someone is, what device they’re using, and at what time of day, marketers can figure out the best message to show – not just at that moment, but for that moment.

For marketers, doing this successfully means shedding our one-size-fits-all idea of marketing. The way we’ll win is by offering information people value in critical moments. It’s not that being relevant is a new concept. But, being relevant in the moment is where marketing power — and consumer expectations — now lie.

Many transactional businesses (especially retail) are already doing this. They have instant access to data as users log into their site or engage with a product. Users often stay logged in, and frequently across devices, which means there is a lot of personal information that can be collected on a user’s behavior — like purchase history, location, when they are active on site, and so forth.

What this Means for You

With a new world of connected devices, marketers can use more precise targeting, messaging, and measuring, instead of making advertising decisions just based on the publications a potential customer might read. The next stage of marketing is really about taking personalization to the next level.

And, according to research from Monetate, 75% of shoppers prefer retailers that use personal information to improve their shopping experience. These are the moments when brands should be there. It’s the key to great marketing.

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Rebecca Churt
Rebecca Churt
Head of Marketing

Rebecca Churt is Head of Marketing at TrueMotion. She was previously a Growth Strategist at OpenView and spent five years at HubSpot.
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