Internet der dingen - iBeacons - Internet of things

The #IoT (Internet of Things); Thoughts from a marketing point of view

This article was published on Linked too. You can find it here.

The ‘Internet of Things’ is one of the developments I have been following the last couple of years, basically since I published an article named “I like facts” in August 2011 (you can find it here) in which I showed how the world is connected with each other.

The other day I was triggered by an interesting article published on Marketingfacts, this one. This article explains various developments and initiatives that would benefit retail in the (near?) future. So, basically as a commercial service rather than a product that is part of the ‘Internet of Things’ itself (like Nest, Hue, etc.).

It discusses opportunities to improve customer journeys by offering welcome messages, product information and e.g. discounts with digital coupons. The project in Regent Street / London is mentioned (I haven’t noticed it at all recently and by the way, this project is much bigger, apparently) together with some other projects with magic mirrors, inspiration corridors and so on.

This, however, is a fairly technical / IT point of view, if you ask me.You may discuss the technical achievability, the future and a ‘how-to’, but how should you deal with marketing & communication topics as user acceptance, how to tackle privacy issues, and how to setup a complete omni-channel campaign integrating communication channels and devices?

In order to launch a successful strategy or campaign, the modern marketing or campaign plan as we know it now, requires an additional chapter discussing and taking care of privacy issues, the user acceptance related to this and not to forget customer awareness. In fact, before the actual campaign can be launched your audience or target group needs to be made aware (with a pre-campaign campaign) of what you wish to do and to what extend with features such as (as I foresee at this point, any additional suggestions are welcome):

  • App usage – What apps do you need to use or download to join the new campaign, or to be informed and benefit from beacon usage (see the article on ‘Les terrasses du Port’)? In addition, what data will it use, perhaps in combination with data from other apps you use?
  • Email – Will you use (click through) data extracted from e-mail campaigns in order to personalize overall user experience with apps or beacons?
  • Website – Will you use (click through) data extracted from web searches or overall web usage (cookie data) in order to personalize overall user experience with apps or beacons?
  • GPS – Will you use location based data in order to improve user experience with your campaign(s)?

These are aspects that you should not under estimate when you start to plan & develop a marketing campaign involving the use of an app, beacons and more. Take for example the shopping list app from Albert Heijn (large Dutch groceries store). This app saves your shopping list and makes sure it is listed according to the shop layout that you visit every week. It may also complete your list based on a recipe that you found on their ‘Allerhande’ website (or app).

However, what will happen when you add features that extend the customer journey, or break it down when not well prepared. Just a few simple examples:

  • The app reads your agenda and knows you will have visitors and suggests to shop for additional drinks and snacks
  • The app receives a beacon signal (or another location based signal) from a different Albert Heijn than your regular one and suggests to change the list to improve the route in that store
  • The app receives data that you have been visiting certain websites so it suggests to add products related to these websites or interests
  • And so on…

Imagine the unlimited number of ideas, developments and challenges we face! The technical means are available, but I think we have the duty to inform and educate the audience and our target groups from a marcom point of view. Some more than others, but the objections against e.g. Google Glass is not much different from the use of apps and beacons in the near future.

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