3 Excellent Examples of IoT Marketing Strategies

The Internet of Things, or IoT, basically describes the billions of physical devices all around the globe that are connected to the internet, which gather and share data. 

IoT is just everything connected to the internet. Recently, it's been used more to describe objects that 'talk' to each other. This includes sensors, smartphones, wearables - anything online, connected. 

"The IoT integrates the interconnectedness of human culture -- our 'things' -- with the interconnectedness of our digital information system -- 'the internet.' That's the IoT," Kevin Ashton, who coined the term IoT, told ZDNet.


With marketing becoming increasingly data-driven, it's important to understand this concept. The 'connected consumer' is a great source of data for marketing. The connected nature of digital objects means that marketers can create totally different experiences, that bridge the digital and physical world, and expand what we mean by 'personalisation'. 

Marketers will be able to provide highly contextual and personalised messages, for example using digital signage in physical situations. Context-aware digital signage can even leverage IoT to monitor the ambient environment, process info, and deliver promotional messages based on environmental cues. They can even gather shopper demographic data by estimating age, gender and more. 

IoT has introduced a bunch of new opportunities for marketers, but it's important that it must be considered beyond the gimmicks. IoT devices must be seen to solve real-world problems and be able to keep up with the changing market. Content marketing is one field in which IoT is going to be particularly influential. 

We all know its data's world, and we're just living in it. The more data we collect as marketers, the better we know our customers, and the better products and services we can provide. Then, these products and services can be marketed in a more successful way. Basically, the whole cycle is streamlined thanks to IoT.

Connected devices have already changed the way we shop, with voice command devices like Alexa meaning we have commerce directly at our fingertips. Voice tips? Idk.

Right now, the intrusive nature of an ad randomly playing in your house might not be ideal, as much as I love Barry Scott's Cillit Bang adverts, I wouldn't want him shouting in the middle of my own kitchen, thank you very much. But in terms of data collection, and advertising innovation, it is an area which is sure to offer far more opportunities in the future. 

The Internet of Things

IoT refers to the billions of physical devices that are now connected to the internet, all collecting and sharing data. 

The affordability of computer chips has made it possible to turn anything, from a watch, to a fridge, to a dose of The Bill Gates 5G Covid Vaccine 2000, into part of the IoT. 

"Connecting up all these different objects and adding sensors to them adds a level of digital intelligence to devices that would be otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate real-time data without involving a human being," says Steve Ranger, editor-in-chief of ZDnet. 


"The Internet of Things is making the fabric of the world around us smarter and more responsive, merging the digital and physical universes."


Some larger objects, such as a driverless truck, might be filled with smaller IoT components, such as an engine that is filled with sensors. 


But marketing, that's what we're here for, not self-driving cars. Get outta here, Elon Musk. 


The use of IoT in marketing is about thinking outside the box and offering services in a valuable way for the customer IRL.


So, how will marketers use IoT?


According to Marketo, it will involve:

  • Analysing customer buying habits across platforms;
  • Gathering previously unobtainable data about how consumers interact with devices and products;
  • Gaining deeper insights into where a customer is in the buying journey
  • Providing real-time, point-of-sale notifications and targeted ads
  • Quickly resolving issues to close sales and keep customers happy

IoT's benefits depend on its particular implementation. It means smarter, more measurable systems that can help marketers in a number of different ways. 


So, let's have a look at some of the best examples from businesses utilising IoT.  


Number One: Geofencing for Customer Targeting


Everyone has a smartphone nowadays. That makes them perfect for IoT marketing experimentation. It's all about wide reach and popularity. Combined with geofencing, which is a form of location intelligence where a phone's GPS is used to map prospects to a nearby business, smartphone location can be used to detect mid-funnel but relevant customers in proximity to a store or physical location. 

So, this has a few implications. IoT can inform you when a prospective buyer is in the perfect spot, and send them an appropriate, personalised message about a sale, or provide them with a coupon they could redeem in-store. Brands could even offer a better value proposition if the customer is visiting a competitor regularly, or remind them of a frequent purchase they could repeat. 

Burger King are an example of a brand doing this well. They executed their IoT campaign when they launched their "Whopper for a Penny" event. Any customer within 600 feet of McDonald's would receive an alert on their smartphone, and instead would be directed to the nearest Burger King.


Number Two: Two Brands Combining Forces


With IoT campaigns, many brands have chosen to combine forces. For example, Uber and Spotify enabled their customer to connect their Spotify account with the Uber app. They could access their playlist via the Uber app, and play music over the car's speakers while using the service. So now you can subject your driver to your party playlist, and get a one-star rating. 

The two apps integrated seamlessly, to ensure brand loyalty, all made easy with the power of IoT. 

So, the internet of things provides an opportunity to improve a product or marketing strategy, whilst simultaneously enhancing your customer experience and providing a unique approach. 


The partnership between products also improves long-term customer retention. If a customer is choosing between two equally-priced equally-efficient car hiring services, they'll be tempted by the one which offers a unique and personalised experience.  

Think about the collaboration between Amazing and Tide. In the fast-moving consumer goods industry, customers tend to stick to what they know. They rarely move away from their favourite brands. So, keeping this behavioural approach in mind, Amazon teamed up with Tide to install a 'Dash' button which customers could attach to their dryers. As soon as their detergent was almost used up, the customer would press the button, and Amazon would deliver a new pack asap. 

This meant products could be moved a hell of a lot faster, and customers were given easy access to their favourite products. Plus, all of this required minimal technical expertise. 

Another collaboration was seen between General Motors and Starbucks. Aware of IoT's ability to improve a brand's product, GM reached out to the coffee chain to elevate its brand's level of innovation and uniqueness. They realised to gain and retain customers it made sense to integrate themselves into their everyday experiences. 

So, in 2017, GM developed the automotive industry's first commerce platform, Using Marketplace, customers can order and pay for their Starbucks order, make dinner reservations, and find the nearest petrol station, by using their dashboard's touch screen. 

Number Three: Weather-dependant IoT Ad Displays


Weather-dependant ads use current weather conditions, and upcoming forecasts, of a specific area to deliver highly relevant and accurate adverts. 

By using their customer's location data, weather-dependant adverts can create contextual and personalised messaging for users that elicit an emotional response and drives them to make purchases. 

Advertisers can control where and when an ad is placed in front of their customers, depending on the forecast. So, an ad might only go out when the sun is shining, or when a storm is coming. 

In 2019, Walgreens started testing digital cooler doors that would target store customers with ads based on what their sensors and cameras saw. Using this face-detection tech, they could determine what to promote to shoppers based on age, gender, and of course - weather. They teamed up with brands like MillerCoors and Nestle, who were willing to test their products. 

So, if someone was older, they might be shown beer, compared to a younger person who might be shown soda. If someone was wearing summery clothing, they might be shown ice cream. 

Weather is a huge driver of consumer emotions. Many people express they have more feelings of sadness during the winter months, or when it's raining. In fact, about 5% of adults in the U.S. experience seasonal affective disorder. 

Weather also influences what products someone needs. That might be a cold bottle of water on a hot day, or a scarf when it's snowing. So advertisers need to be mindful of what area of the world they're placing their ads. There's no point showing winter coats in an Australian Summer. But at the same time in the U.K, the ad would be a hit. By using location data and weather-specific information, brands can create more relevant campaigns. 

In a statement, a senior marketing manager at MillerCoors said that one of the biggest barriers they face is that shoppers aren't aware that they can purchase beer in drugstores. Having ads targeted towards them like this could increase sales and provide more insight into consumer behaviour.

This strategy was unique in that it offered an opportunity to market to consumers right at the point of purchase, which is unheard of in an offline environment.