It’s Monday morning in the year 2025, and everything in your inbox is strangely…relevant. The maker of your oven sent over another list of recipes that you would actually make. Your gym emailed a report of your weekly workouts – it turns out that your strength is 20 percent higher over the previous month, but your upper back and chest muscles are out of balance. The email offers links to back exercises you can use to correct this.
This is the potential of content marketing in a world where billions of devices are assigned IP addresses and interconnected in an “Internet of Things” (IoT). Unlike Bluetooth or other wireless technologies that connect machine-to-machine (M2M), IoT devices connect via the internet, making distance irrelevant. It’s the difference between turning on your car with a button on your keychain (M2M) and turning on your car from a web browser (IoT).
While the interconnection of more than 25 billion devices has raised security and privacy concerns that need to be addressed, the Internet of Things is collecting an enormous volume of data that content marketers can use to improve their craft. In the examples I give above – with an oven and gym – the hypothetical content marketers are using data from IoT experiences to provide more personalized content. They can identify who uses devices, when they are used, how the tech is used, where it takes place and what problems are encountered. And after evaluating how the data changes over time, Internet of Things marketers can make a powerful case for why people should use their technology.
So data that arises from Internet of Things will provide content marketers insight into how people use these “things.” (click to tweet) In turn, this will lead to very personalized content opportunities for the brands selling IoT.
IoT data will help marketers deliver better content in three main areas:
- 1. Recommendations
Internet of Things, combined with a little data science, will turn devices into powerful recommendation engines. Like Amazon and Netflix, which recommend products and entertainment based on user behavior, Internet of Things introduces the ability to measure use behavior in traditionally offline environments. Content marketers can then deliver personalized suggestions based on this behavior.
Let’s take the Internet of Things oven example. The frontrunner in this category, the Dacor Discovery IQ, allows users to search the web for a recipe, insert the dish and then let the oven automatically cook it. If owners use this feature regularly, they would build up a history of recipe choices that smart data scientists could analyze for patterns. If they could answer the question, “What would this person like to cook next?,” marketers could create and curate a huge selection of recipes to meet a variety of individual preferences. Depending which recipes they program into the oven or not, marketers would be able to improve their suggestions each time.
$4,399 is a steep price tag for a single oven, but if owners are able to confidently discover and cook recipes they would have never attempted before – thanks to the assistance of content marketers – the experience may justify the price.
- 2. Insight
In many cases, IoT will be able to go beyond preference-based recommendations and provide information on how your usage is changing. Content marketers can then take this data to create very useful, personalized content that keeps people committed to the device or activity. An Internet of Things gym is an ideal example.
Here’s the premise – your NFC phone can link up with any piece of equipment in the gym and identify you. All the equipment is linked to the internet. So if you use the bench press, you swipe your phone and do your set. Sensors on the bench press detect your precise action (e.g. close-grip bench press) how much weight you’re lifting, your cadence, number of reps, rest period, etc. It delivers all this information to your fitness training account via the web. After your workout, there is precise record of what you did.
The content marketers can then analyze this data for problems or patterns. If, as I described above, your core muscle groups are out of balance, personalized marketing content can point that out and share videos of exercises that will help correct the problem. If you’re doing the exact same exercises over and over again without progress, marketers can recommend alternatives or propose a fresh new training regimen. Between companies like Precor and Atlas Wearables, we’re getting close to these possibilities.
- 3. Value
An Internet of Things oven, an interconnected gym and dozens of other Internet of Things scenarios will be able to provide proof of value and achievement. While recommendations and insights focus on existing customers, this value content would focus on potential customers.
We already see this with Nest, the Google-owned maker of connected thermostats and smoke alarms. They analyzed a year of data from Nest Thermostats to determine how typical usage patterns produce energy savings ranging from 14% to 26%. Based on an actual study of home data, they also found that “Nest Thermostats saved Southern California customers an average of 11.3% of AC-related energy usage.” This makes it easy for a homeowner to assess the value of a Nest Thermostat.
Likewise, the IoT oven could show that owners cook an average of XX different dishes per year, which would be a draw for someone who struggles with cooking and lacks the time to find recipes. Or, the Internet of Things gym might be able to show that its customers lose an average of X pounds per year, increase their strength by Y percent and improve their cardio by Z. Blended and analyzed together, personal datasets can be used to make a powerful value proposition.
Plan ahead for Internet of Things content marketing
In Internet of Things content marketing, I believe we have to envision content as part of the product itself. Everyone in the IoT space is producing impressive, flashy technology, but much of it will not prove useful. Without guidance and ideas, people won’t necessarily see the value of having all the inanimate objects in their life connected to the internet.
It is up to content marketers to create the perception that the Internet of Things offers value and new possibilities for users. The data they collect from devices will no doubt help in this process. By providing content tailored to the needs of individual users and questions of potential buyers, content marketers can make a device seem essential and immensely helpful. People want marketing content to be more relevant to their lives, and Internet of Things will help us achieve that – hopefully long before 2025.