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If marketers want to be successful in 2018, they need to start planning – now. We’ve all heard about the Internet of Things (IoT) over the last few years, and in the new year, it’s really going to shake things up. Why? We’re going to experience a massive increase in the number of digitally connected devices, changing the game for marketers across the globe.

According to Business Insider Intelligence’s research, almost $6 trillion will be spent on IoT solutions by 2021. Consumers will increasingly be able to make purchases from any location, at any time, and marketers need to be ready to meet them there at a moment’s notice.

If marketers don’t want to get left behind next year, here’s how they should start planning:

  1. Take personalization to the next level.
    Marketers have been practicing personalization for years – and it’s finally time to surpass the “Hello, NAME” emails. Metis client SundaySky wrote in Retail Customer Experience that data can be used to both personalize customer experience and respect customers’ time. If a customer puts a product in his cart, Amazon can seamlessly make complementary product recommendations to save him time. This shows Amazon understands his needs, and increases the company’s sales at the same time. While Amazon’s at the forefront of this, with Alexa filling more and more households’ grocery orders, we’re going to begin to see this more from other players. A recent study showed nearly half of consumers are comfortable with connected devices shopping on their behalf, and this is only likely to increase.
  1. Get a 360-degree view of the entire customer journey.
    With the proliferation of IoT, marketers are going to now – more than ever – require full insight into a customer’s buying journey. With multiple channels at their fingertips, consumers are buying on desktops, smartphones, tablets and IoT devices, like Google Home, in addition to traditional in-store purchasing. Marketers will need to find a platform that allows for cross-channel attribution, in order to fully understand the “how” and “why” of their customers’ buying cycles – from the first click, to the first purchase.
  1. Increase influencer marketing and review activities.
    The increase in connected devices affects more than just marketers. It directly hits consumers, too. With more people out there to communicate with, social sharing becomes easier. There will no longer be a divide based on factors like location. Target buyers are going to be exposed to other customers, bloggers, celebrities and experts more so than ever. So, if you give a certain customer experience in Asia and a blogger does an unboxing of their package on Snapchat, your United Kingdom customer is likely to expect the same thing. Because people are more likely to buy something when others stand behind it, marketers need to consider their reviews and influencer marketing strategies. With as many as 70 percent of consumers relying on customer reviews before purchasing, marketers need to take advantage of this expanding connected network.
  1. Boost social monitoring and support.
    The increase in connected devices means brands can communicate with customers in myriad new ways, and social media is at the top of consumers’ lists. Connecting with a brand on social saves customers time from dialing in and getting passed from department to department. They can ask a question, or voice a complaint, and everyone else can see it. Brands will need to monitor for increased engagement and offer timely, around-the-clock support, to keep customers happy.

In 2018, IoT will make its breakthrough, and marketers need to be prepared. With more connected devices hitting households, marketers should begin planning for next year now.