The year is nearly 2018, and we have yet to see flying cars become the norm or colonization of mars. Science fiction may have over-promised, but I would argue that Silicon Valley hasn’t under delivered.
Nearly 1 in 5 households are considered hyper-connected, which means that they have 10 or more internet-connected devices. That’s great news for people that are looking for machines to become more integrated with our daily lives.
Do The Risks of a Connected Life Outweigh the Benefits?
Unfortunately, with every advance, there are new risks and concerns. One of the concerns with the connected household is privacy. Even for corporate America, this presents a challenge. While 85% of companies plan to utilize connected devices, only 10% feel that they can successfully secure them for daily use.
If corporate America can’t protect itself from the onslaught of hackers, how are residential households supposed to venture confidently into the world of smart devices and connected homes?
There are a few products that I think are a step in the right direction for the secure, connected household. First is the introduction of highly-secure home routers that can detect attacks because they have security software baked into the network infrastructure. Second, there are a growing number of reputation management firms popping up to help consumers detect and prevent attacks on their digital footprint.
So, if we can feel confident that a secure, connected world is coming to the average consumer, there’s one other exciting aspect of an increasingly smart world that I would like to touch on.
Marketing in the Smart, Connected Age
It’s easier than ever before to reach consumers at the moment they’re ready to make a buying decision. Instead of focusing on plastering ads through Google AdWords, increasingly we need to start looking at forming partnerships with the manufacturers of smart devices.
Look at what millions of small businesses have done with the help of Amazon’s marketplace. More than $136 billion in sales last year. That might not strike you as a small business, but the reality is that the figure represents a savvy partnership between mom and pops, and a large e-commerce giant.
And here’s why that’s exciting. Consumers can now use the full line-up of Alexa enabled voice assistant devices - developed, marketed and fulfilled by Amazon - to order products from all of these small businesses.
In addition to Alexa, the rise of mobile consumption has given marketers a plethora of data which has led to highly personalised experiences for consumers. Martech companies are capitalising on this by aggregating data about a company’s customers across disparate systems and social channels to offer insights that lead to higher engagement and brand equity. For example, email automation platform Campaign Monitor recently acquired customer data platform Tagga. It enables them to give marketers the ability to combine behavioural data such as social media engagement, purchasing history and recent browsing history with age, gender and geolocation into a customer profile that can be used to send content that’s important to each recipient on an individual 1:1 basis.
Holy Data Batman!
Oh, and did I mention that all of these devices are constantly reporting back to the cloud with insights about the consumers that use them. Data is the lifeblood of effective marketing. The information that sellers can gain from smart devices can power more powerful social media campaigns.
For example, Instagram is primarily used by 18-29-year-olds. If you know that the most substantial user of your product are consumers purchasing their first apartment or home, you can extrapolate that Instagram is a lucrative channel for investing in paid advertising.
The way that we speak to consumers needs to evolve to match the data that they generate. Every statistician will tell you that if you survey consumers, you’ll get answers based on their current environment. But IoT is changing at such a rapid pace - with new smart devices being launched every day - that there is no opportunity for consumers to predict their wants or needs based on the current environment.
Real-time data, from actual consumer behaviour, is vastly superior to everything else that’s available to data scientists and marketers that rely on their findings.
In conclusion, it’s not that smart devices remove the need for other marketing channels. But the data that’s transmitted back to product developers and marketers can completely revolutionize the way we deploy various channels to work together.