There’s going to be at least 50 billion connected devices and objects by 2020, and this presents a tremendous opportunity for brands to engage with consumers in meaningful ways, but it also offers the potential of creating a lot of noise. The only way to cut through that noise is with a communications strategy that’s built around personalization.
This past Tuesday, at the Internet of Things (IoT) Influencers Summit, Michael Becker, co-founder of mCordis, and Kahuna’s Ben Salzman explained that this noise impacts both brands and consumers. For brands, the profilteration of smart devices means sifting through an increasing amount of data to figure out what’s relevant to users. For consumers, IoT has the potential to turn everything in your house into a spam cannon.
Consumer behavior has irrevocably changed because of mobility, Michael said, and IoT will generate more signals that inform how brands should interact with consumers. We’re entering a world where connected cars, connected toothbrushes, and a variety of other connected devices will be the norm. Furthermore, many connected devices will use smartphones and tablets as their way to engage with consumers, which makes messaging the main interface.
“Going forward, the foundation of your business is personal communications at scale,” Michael said.
“Personal communications goes deeper than segmentation or location,” said Ben. “It utilizes modern technology to get person-level data that informs communication strategies to drive results.” User data privacy is a legitimate concern, but Ben said that consumers are willing to hand over data to brands in exchange for relevant content and respectful treatment.
“Mis-personalization is not going to be tolerated in the future,” Ben said. “Once somebody gets a taste of a really good message that they know applies specifically to them, there’s no going back.”
Ben points to Google Now as an example of powerful, personalized communications that brands should try to emulate. When Google Now helps you make a meeting by telling you to leave early because of traffic, that makes a material difference in your life. Similarly, Yahoo Sports sends fantasy football players a roster-specific push notification about injuries or bye weeks. This delights users because it helps their lives, in some fashion.
“This isn’t really a new concept, as personalization has been driving business results since the beginning of commerce,” Michael said. “Local shops would often know their customers’ names, birthdays, children’s names, and preferences, but it couldn’t scale. The big-box era of retail offered the scale but not the personalization.”
We’re finally at the point where the tools exist for brands to deliver personalization at scale.
“Your brand is no longer the product or service you sell,” Michael said. “Your brand is the collection of micro-moments and experiences that the consumer has along every touch point of their journey.”
In the IoT world, Ben believes that messaging is the connection point that allows brands to understand consumers and for consumers to interact with brands. For example, a ticketing app like SeatGeek on your Apple Watch could know what event users have been to but also glean deeper insights from the IoT world to better inform how it should message users. SeatGeek could know users had a good time because they spent the night dancing and then used a connected bottle opener after midnight.
SeatGeek isn’t currently doing that but these are signals that exist today. The next step for modern brands is to utilize tools that incorporate real-time feedback from smartphones, tablets, and connected devices, and combine those with a platform that automatically adjusts based on which device, which copy, and which medium performs best for each individual user. In an IoT world, personalization isn’t just nice to have, it’s a business imperative.