This is a guest post by Parker Davis. Parker is the CEO of Answer 1, a leader in the virtual receptionist and technology enabled answering services industry. He believes that the application of data analytics, investment in technology, and fostering a positive company culture together create highly efficient and scalable growth companies. Parker is also the Managing Partner of Annison Capital Partners, LLC, a private investment partnership. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.
You’ve probably heard quite a bit about the Internet of Things by now, but are you yet to connect it to Content Marketing? If not, you’re likely not alone, but the fact remains that there is some very interesting potential arising from the melding of these two somewhat unlikely partners. Intrigued? Read on further to see how you might harness the power of the IoT to make your content marketing life a whole lot easier.
The Internet of Things: What It Is
OK, so the concept of the Internet of Things (or IoT as we shall refer to it from this point) can be as simple or as difficult as you choose to make it.
Personally, we prefer simple, so we like the approach that Forbes contributor Jacob Morgan adopted a little while back in his article, A Simple Explanation Of ‘The Internet Of Things.
Essentially, and as Jacob explains it, it all boils down to this: the IoT enables all sorts of devices to be connected to the Internet, and to each other, with a type of on/off switch.
The devices themselves can be many and varied: light switches, wearable devices, household appliances, you name it. The central point here is that everything is going to be connected to each other, and that includes people being connected to people, people being connected to things and things being connected to things.
There’s no point in being connected without communication. So, to a large extent, the “glue” connecting all of these things together is data; each connected device or “thing” can generate a stream of data about its state that can then be communicated via the cloud and made sense of by the owner.
To understand what this truly signifies, we need to take a step back and consider what exactly the IoT might be useful for, still sticking with the general sense, for the moment rather than in a business context.
One of the classic examples already in training is the concept of the smart home, the technology that is increasingly being taken up by the everyday consumer. The smart home exemplifies the IoT concept because it allows communication between several Internet-connected devices within the house to each other and the (often remote or mobile) owner.
But, as the Business Insider notes, potential applications of IoT can range far beyond the smart home, encompassing wearables and connected cars, right up to smart cities. Imagine a city where trash cans could communicate when they need to be emptied, or in which your car could communicate with traffic sensors so that you could select an optimal route home in real time.
How the IoT Relates to Content Marketing
So far so good, right? We hope you are still with us so far. But you could be forgiven for wondering what bearing any of this IoT stuff has for the world of the content marketer.
Well, the answer happens to be …. quite a lot. Enough that it might surprise you. It actually starts to make a whole lot of sense when you sit down and give it the pondering space it deserves. And even if you have no interest in allocating pondering space, the fact is that those in the know have already gone out and done a fair bit of the intellectual heavy lifting for you. And then we’ve gone out and helpfully collated it all to boot, so fret no more! Here are three key points to digest:
The IoT Will Rain Beneficial Data for Content Marketers
Content marketers can almost never have too much data, provided it is accurate and of a reasonably high quality. After all, high-quality data enables insight, and insight assists us in fine tuning our marketing strategies and messaging to make sure they are on point.
The world of IoT looks set to become a true rainmaker for this purpose. Imagine scads of connected things (devices and people), constantly generating a stream of data back to the cloud, all to be poured over and mined for patterns, trends, and insights … add predictive analytics to the mix, and it almost sounds too good to be true!
And of course, it possibly is … at least at this early stage. Privacy and security issues linked to the IoT have been making it look like a giant and increasingly leaky sieve that some suggest may be capable of destroying lives and livelihoods (tech writer Lauren Zanolli, writing for Fast Company, went so far as to rechristen the IoT as “Privacy Hell”). It’s a tough one.
The likely outcome? The potential for increased regulation and introduction of IoT-specific legislation across many jurisdictions at some stage in the future. For now, continued self-regulation by companies, continued exposure attempts by hackers and continued infrequent public outbursts when something goes horribly wrong. In other words, watch this space – it’s still evolving.
The Possibilities for Communication are Endless
This point will hardly be news to anyone who has had a keen eye on the rise and rise of mobile devices, but the IoT is set to take this ballgame to a whole new level.
As Stephanie Diamond, of the Dummies Business and Marketing Blog writes, all of a sudden, the possibilities for communicating with your target market are endless. No longer bound by laptop or smartphone, devices can start to communicate with your company and the customer in a ‘smart’ conversation that can open the door to further marketing and sales opportunities, as well as providing new and unique opportunities to provide exemplary customer service.
For instance, imagine the example of devices capable of initiating a three-way conversation (or more if third parties are involved) when they are experiencing faults or are due for a service. Customers can be more proactive about their relationship with your company, and content marketers will need to be ready to respond with personalized and tailored approaches.
The Floodgates of Location-Based Intelligence Will Open
One of the key advantages of the IoT will be the provision of a new flood of location-based data that will have uses far above and beyond the standard operating data that each device is chugging out.
It’s fascinating when you think about it. Every device or thing, and every person has a location at every given moment of their lives that can be specified as a set of geographic coordinates. You move, you change coordinates. You move a device, you change its coordinates.
Now add to this basic concept the fact that every Internet-enabled thing or person in the IoT is capable of transmitting a steady stream of data to the cloud, including these geographic coordinates and the time and date at which they changed. Adding geography adds a whole new dimension to the equation, and here’s why.
Location data tells you how near two things or people are to each other, and this capability could prove highly relevant to content marketing. All of a sudden, content marketers can harness the power of app or text messaging to advertise a flash sale or locally based deal that is only available within a certain radius of a store, or better yet, to ‘push’ relevant location-based content depending on where the customer finds themselves.
And this also works just as well on the micro level too: imagine messaging that changes depending on where the customer finds themselves within an individual store or shopping complex, as opposed to within a large region.
Well, it’s been a whirlwind tour, but we hope, an exhilarating one. Unlocking the potential of the IoT will no doubt take some time and some ironing out of teething issues, but for content marketers, it’s a good time to be on the planet!