Digital Marketing in a Connected World

Offline Data is the Next Big Thing

Understanding your audience is the job of any marketer.  In the digital marketing space, that has traditionally meant understanding the online behavior of customers.  Now, understanding their offline behavior is essential, as well. Advances in technology have now made tracking a user beyond the traditional experiences a reality and the amount of user data available to a marketer is ever-increasing as more connected devices are introduced into the world.

What does Internet of Things (IoT) mean to marketers?

IoT is the idea of having devices and people connected to the internet as well as each other.  Data that is produced from the interactions between people and devices give marketers a host of new data to gain insights from.  IoT sensors can be used to give context to a customer’s behavior.  Readings from GPS and temperature sensors can help a marketer understand the context around a particular mobile ecommerce purchase.  The insights gained can assist a marketer in being more effective with their campaigns.

Targeting through segmentation is a cornerstone of any good digital marketing plan.  The more specific a segment, the greater possibility of a targeted campaign succeeding.  Data feeds from IoT-enabled devices, combined with customer behavior, offer the marketer a whole new set of attributes to make even more specific segments.

Beyond gaining new insights, IoT also gives the marketer a host of new touch points to interact with their audience.  The customer experience no longer ends with the online or mobile app experience.  Marketers can use a variety of new experiences to engage their audience.  A display in a store can use beacons to determine who is in front of the screen and advertise products based on the segments that customer belongs to.  The amount of time spent around those beacons can lead to insights about what purchase a customer is prepared to make.  Campaigns can be specifically targeted at the products located in the area that a customer has been spending time.

Understanding the ‘Universe’

For marketers, the power of IoT is in understanding not just a customer’s behavior, but in the ability to understand all of the factors that lead to that behavior. Knowing where a customer spends their time within a store combined with environmental factors such as temperature, time of day, weather, or who else happened to be nearby, gives the marketer potential insight into a customer’s motivations.

There are numerous technical and semantic challenges presented by the creation of a model of the Universe which is relevant to your marketing goals.  The challenge lies in parsing through the endless sensor data that is reporting the movements of all mobile app users within a store.  Matching up the sensor data with user behavior is the greatest challenge in using IoT data to supplement marketing profile data.  Processed and aggregated sensor data and customer data constitutes a model of the Universe and gives a view of the environment around a potential customer and even gives a view of other customers at the time of an event.  Understanding the environment can lead to new insights about a customer base.

Why Now?

Numerous technologies to connect devices to the internet and track the behavior of customers have existed for a long time but with a high barrier to entry.  What has changed is that advances in numerous areas including Big Data, Cloud Computing, and device production has reached a point where what used to take proprietary and expensive hardware and software can now be achieved using mobile technologies, commodity hardware, and highly available cloud services.  A smart phone application and some beacons is all that is needed to start tracking customers inside a building.  Streams of location data can be consumed and warehoused in relatively inexpensive cloud platforms.  Data can be mined for insights using similarly priced Machine Learning cloud platforms.  

This means there is now the ability to implement solutions without massive investment in physical or system infrastructure.  Commodity hardware can embellish existing buildings, machines, or people, and streams of data created by the hardware -consumed by economically priced cloud services- allow for the testing of ideas and hypothesis without breaking the bank.

In Conclusion

Advances in IoT technology has allowed marketers to gain access to all kinds of new data streams.  This data is allowing marketers to gain all kinds of new insights into their audience and in turn make more specific segments.  These segments are giving customers the benefit of more contextualized content.

Connected experiences powered by advances in IoT technologies are giving marketers a better understanding of their customers.