You may have heard a lot of talk about “the internet of things” lately and wondered how it could affect you as a business owner. As a consumer, you may already be aware of Internet of Things products like the Google Nest learning thermostat and the Fitbit fitness tracker. What qualifies these products as part of the “internet of things” is both their ability to obtain data and their always-connected nature. By constantly sending and receiving data to a global network, these devices can provide extra features to the owner, such as being able to change the indoor thermostat setting based on the humidity levels measured outside.

While data like this has clear benefits to consumers on a one-to-one scale, on a larger scale it can help the businesses who manufacture the products make smarter decisions. For instance, auto manufacturers can receive performance data from their vehicles’ connected onboard sensors. This data helps them learn more about common maintenance problems, hopefully preventing them in newer design updates.

The ability to gather data in order to make smarter business decisions is where small business owners and digital marketers like EverSpark Interactive could become a part of the Internet of Things (IoT) business ecosystem. By having access to anonymized user data on a global scale, digital marketing strategies can become more intelligent, better targeted to audiences and more effective at producing desired purchase behavior. In other words: The IoT could soon make marketing work better for companies of all sizes, giving them the chance to make more revenue from more customers than before.

IoT Will Revolutionize Market Research

Surveys, phone calls, emails, self-reporting, observations, member rosters — these are the tools marketers have to obtain the primary data they need to make their critical decisions. While the uses of this data can be quite sophisticated, such as retargeting or sliver-thin audience segmenting, the collection methods are often anything but. Snail mail, the thing most people have forgotten about since 2002, is still alive and well as one of the more common and effective means of gathering this type of market data.

That’s all set to change. The spread of the Internet of Things (IoT) across wide consumer use cases is leading to a powerful new surge of data, and marketers better be ready. Enterprise IoT is already a billion dollar business. When adoption penetrates more widely across consumers, the same technology used to build better cars or more efficient assembly lines will soon lead to better marketing. Once a huge portion of home devices are IoT enabled, consumers will be self reporting on their habits, and the implications for marketers will be huge.

A New World of Opportunity

Marketers are poised on the edge of their seats waiting for the potential that the IoT will bring them. A recent survey conducted by research firm Annalect found that of all the trends set to change the world by 2020, marketers named the Internet of Things at the top of their list. Consumers share this anticipation, too. 59 percent of those surveyed stated that they would use a smartphone app or cloud-based platform to control features of their homes. This enthusiasm means that, by 2020, 50 billion different devices will feature online connectivity. By 2025, the total economic impact of IoT will ring to the tune of $6.2 trillion dollars.

Right now, products like the Nest learning thermostat and fitness trackers like Fitbit are already blazing trails. They have proven that data-tracking devices and “smart” learning devices are more than welcome in most people’s homes. Some marketers are thinking that these sorts of devices provide yet another channel for offers, such as the Nest suggesting you purchase HEPA air filters for pollen season. Amazon’s Dash and Echo are already following this path, allowing users to automatically re-up on needed products at the literal touch of a button.

However, focusing on uses like these misses the potential big picture. Rather than finding new ways to peddle products via toothbrushes or coffee makers, the real potential lies in what these devices’ data holds.

In fact, toothbrushes are the perfect example. Self-reporting on hygiene activities like teeth brushing can inherently lead to skewed perceptions. After all, who hasn’t responded to the dentist’s stern question “have you been flossing?” with an enthusiastic “ymph shrr!” between wads of cotton? Connected toothbrushes, like the Oral-B 7000 are capable of measuring toothbrushing habits over long-term periods to help owners — and perhaps their intrepid dentists — get a better assessment of their actual hygiene. In the future, this data can be anonymized and provided directly to Oral-B or other companies, who can learn how their market actually uses their products. Information like “night brushing is not as common as morning brushing” can inform campaigns, new products and new features like an automated “Brush your teeth before bed!” SMS reminder. It can also allow manufacturers to create toothbrushes geared for longer-lasting benefits, even if the owner forgets to use them at night.

Data-Driven Marketing Needs Consumer Consent

Of course, steps in this direction are met with privacy concerns, so marketers will need to take great care to disclose their data sharing policies, offer opt-outs and steer more towards anonymized data over specific product-owner targeting. IoT decision-makers evidently agree, with 58 percent stating that business policies like privacy would become the biggest challenges to IoT.

Yet, as long as the future pans out as it seems it will and businesses keep the actual needs of their market in mind, the IoT could quickly lead to much smarter products and even smarter product campaigns — in so many more ways than one.

IoT Could Someday Benefit Us Little Guys

For small businesses, access to the data from IoT could even allow them to create better business models. Data from self-driving cars could teach law offices when the peak hours for visits could be, for example.

Throughout these developments, EverSpark will be on top of the latest capabilities. We keep up with things like interactive beacons so that our audience always stays a step ahead of cutting-edge tech trends. When IoT starts becoming more accessible to lower-tier businesses, we want you to be the first to know.

Let us help you stay on top of the latest digital marketing practices and never get caught off guard by what tomorrow could bring. Click here to get started.

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