The Internet of Things will Transform the Marketing of Things

Posted by Tessa Wegert on January 28, 2016

The future of marketing is impossible to predict. As much as we would like to know what it looks like, new technologies are disrupting the traditional marketing model with transformative results. The only course of action for businesses is to adapt; embrace the changes and build a team that’s equipped to react moving forward.

One of the most disruptive developments to date is the Internet of Things (IoT). By using sensors to collect and transmit data on such factors as temperature, movement and environment, the IoT is giving companies greater control over machines and influencing everything from customer engagement to the path to purchase. A leading tech forecaster and Wired magazine contributor puts it like this: “The real value that the Internet of Things creates is at the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it.”

The task of leveraging that data falls, of course, on marketers. In order to manage tech-driven changes to the company-customer relationship, businesses need a marketing team that’s fluent in the language of network connectivity.

This is a skill set that’s in high demand, but remains relatively elusive. Marketers are strategists by nature, but to capitalize on the new technological norm and the opportunities afforded by the IoT, they must become data scientists, too—and they know it. A recent study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that CMOs and senior marketing executives expect the IoT to be the most influential industry trend in the years to come. More than 50% believe it will revolutionize marketing by 2020.

What IoT-related skills and strengths should you seek as you build your marketing team of the future? Here’s a list to get you started:

Familiarity With Consumer-Side Digital Tools and Channels

If companies hope to connect with customers and create personalized digital experiences, their marketers must be well-versed in popular customer tools—social media platforms, chat apps and mobile channels in particular. Social media listening skills, and having a finger on the pulse of new mobile tools and trends, can produce invaluable customer insight that can be used to inform integrated marketing strategies.

A Deep Understanding of Marketing Automation

Marketers have already had to train themselves in automation by enlisting retargeting and programmatic technology. Both are key to reaching modern audiences and delivering relevant messaging. With the IoT in full swing, knowing how to turn device usage data into marketing insight will be more critical than ever. Marketers will need to lean on this skill to create effective messaging that spans both customer relationship management efforts as well as sales- and branding-driven campaigns.

Connected Content Marketing and Design Expertise

The IoT may not be as much about content as utility, but it’s slowly training consumers to expect rich digital experiences, and brands that can’t deliver on the content front will likely be passed by. Look for marketers who are adept at telling brand stories in a way that satisfies the consumer desire for compelling, multi-channel content. In a connected world, content should be personalized and highly interactive. A working knowledge of immersive video, virtual reality and algorithmic curation—automatically determining what content should be displayed to each customer—are a big plus.

Digital media design is another discipline that’s being shaped by the IoT. Creative must be optimized for every possible channel, so it’s great for marketers to have experience with responsive design.

Data Analytics Know-How

Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group predicts that by 2020 the Internet of Things will encompass some 50 billion objects. Simply put, the data resulting from all of these consumer connections can completely overwhelm a business that isn’t prepared to receive it.

Experts in big data will be a huge asset in the months and years to come. Marketers that know how to extract meaning from the massive amounts of incoming data will only increase in value. Soft skills like curiosity and being able to identity analysis and delivery opportunities are just as vital as hard skills like a computer engineering background and experience with Teradata, Oracle and SQL. Both are needed to be an effective data analyst.

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