Engaging customers on any platform or device are the focus of most businesses. Today customers have more choices than ever on how to get information and are in control over the buying process. Therefore, multichannel marketing has become vital in using a combination of indirect and direct communication platforms to interact with customers and make it easy for them to purchase products or services in whichever way they choose. Websites, e-commerce, email, mobile commerce, direct mail, banner ads, social media, call centers, retail stores, etc. give marketing professionals more opportunities to engage customers.
According to a recent report by Gartner (Press Release November, 2015) there will be 6.4 Billion connected devices and ‘gadgets’ worldwide in 2016, a growth of 30% over 2015. The Internet of Things (IoT) presents opportunities beyond the typical use of devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc. and include new applications of networked physical ‘things’ through the use of embedded sensors, actuators, and other technologies. However, IoT is not just about the connected devices; the major value of IoT is the in the ability of of these objects to collect and transmit information about them and the services that would be available. Gartner defines IoT services as connectivity service providers, consumer services and operational providers (which include the design, installation, operation and management of IoT systems). Gartner’s experts predict that IoT will support total services spending of $235 billion in 2016.
A customer-focused marketing strategy is easier said than accomplished. The meaning customer centric approach varies from company to company, depending on their vision and goals. When it comes to developing advertising campaigns, cross-device targeting has become a growing trend. In consumer markets, the connected car, connected home and connected ‘things’ Gartner estimates that 4 billion devices will be in use in 2016 and will reach 13.5 billion in 2020. In commercial markets, connected objects can be anything from buildings’ energy management systems, ‘networked’ light bulbs, heating and cooling devices, to facility security systems. Other IoT solutions may be industry specific, for example, hospital equipment, entertainment hall systems, etc.
There is no magic formula on how to connect a user across all devices and channels in order to achieve cross-device capabilities. IoT brings a lot of new device selections and these too should be viewed as part of cross-device channels. Mediums like social networks, online search, as well as TV and radio can also be viewed as cross-channel targeting and thus included in brands’ cross-device marketing strategy. For example, a Nielsen’s report earlier this year found that TV ads can successfully leverage social marketing to increase reach of their campaigns. The report indicated that Facebook has increased the reach of TV ad campaigns among millennials (18 24 years age group), which are hard to target via traditional or cable TV.
The focus on the customer, regardless of the specific device used, is where digital marketing is going. With IoT connectivity and services, the idea is to look at the big picture and think about strategizing on how to reach the person-customer versus focusing on how to deliver on particular devices. As we move into a broader model of thinking, there is a need for standardization of IoT technologies for cross-device.