The world of marketing is a constantly shifting landscape and B2B businesses have their own unique marketing challenges. Modern B2B buyers and CEOs are generally very tech savvy, highly productive, and skeptical of all solicitations.
Fortunately, with the rapid rise in technological advancement over the last 2 decades, marketers have more options than ever before. The only limit on a marketing strategy these days is creativity.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one field that has seen incredible growth and offers a host of marketing possibilities to B2B marketers to expand their reach.
The first IoT device is said to be a Coca-Cola vending machine at Carnegie Mellon University that local programmers connected to the Internet in order to see what drinks were available before walking to the machine. The technology continued to develop and the name “Internet of Things” was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, the Executive Director of Auto-ID Labs.
IoT refers to any object or network of objects that have the ability to collect and analyze data without human intervention. The industry has experienced explosive growth and $1 trillion is expected to be spent on IoT technology worldwide by 2022.
One recent trend in IoT is an increase in video and audio sensors embedded into devices. This is due to a number of factors including the fact that video and audio data are some of the richest and most useful. This combined with faster internet speeds, lower cost of video tech, inexpensive cloud storage, and advancements in video and voice analytics has led to many more cameras and microphones in IoT devices.
Another trend is in creating complimentary architecture for IoT devices that use the power of the cloud and AI to store and process data. This allows an IoT device to respond instantaneously to data, a necessity for devices like self-driving cars. Several IT architectures with these properties have already been brought to market.
The use of IoT in marketing is also a growing trend, although marketers have seen the potential in IoT since the beginning. The amazing thing about IoT in marketing is that it allows businesses to listen better, engage more and create a more client-centered, holistic approach to marketing. This is particularly helpful in B2B marketing, which is all about building and nurturing relationships.
IoT is changing social media marketing (SMM) in a very fundamental way. In order to understand how B2B businesses can best leverage IoT in their SMM strategies, we must first understand how B2B companies are using social media in the first place.
Research suggests that the primary form of B2B communication and marketing is done face-to-face.
Although, it should be noted that face-to-face doesn’t necessarily mean “in-person”, it simply refers to any personal one-on-one communication including voice, video or even email. Social media is generally used by B2B businesses as a way to support the client relationships they have, and not necessarily get more exposure.
B2B businesses like to use social media to enhance SEO and drive traffic to landing pages, target professionals and follow up with clients. IoT can be leveraged to accomplish all of these goals and it is still vastly underutilized by B2B businesses.
Insights from IoT can be used in social media to create targeted posts and intelligently share them with those who would be most interested, driving traffic to your website. Moreover, if your B2B company has a multi-faceted website, you can promote each category of content to separate groups of people to drive even more traffic. As IoT listening and analytics become more sophisticated, it is expected that a 100% CTR will be possible.
To nurture client relationships using SMM, B2B companies can use virtual telecommunication systems to keep track of client interests and pain points that are discussed. Perhaps as IoT video analytics become more advanced, companies will be able to glean information from video calls that they otherwise would have missed. Follow-ups with relevant, helpful content can then be shared as part of the social media marketing strategy.
IoT insights can be used to target professionals on social media too. The data from connected virtual assistants can give B2B companies information on who is most in need of their services or who might be a perfect match for a job opening. Social media platforms can then be used to deliver a personalized promotion of the service or position.
The content marketing game has changed drastically due to IoT. For example, now that more people are asking their smart devices questions using natural language instead of typing keywords into google, natural language content is winning over keyword stuffing.
IoT can be used to strengthen B2B content marketing in two major ways: customization and timing. IoT offers insight into the problems that your clients are facing, what they are researching, what is causing them frustration and what their interests are. This information is a powerful key to creating incredibly personalized content for your existing clients and potential new clients.
Additionally, this data from IoT can inform when and where to send personalized content so that your contacts and potential clients receive it when they need it the most.
For B2B suppliers, IoT has had a huge impact on product development, as well as nearly every aspect of the supply chain. When supplying a business with connected devices such as surveillance cameras or heart monitors, feedback can be obtained in real-time with valuable information on customer usage and defects. This can lead to a much faster turnaround on designing out problems and addressing issues.
When IoT devices are integrated with a Unified Communications or CPaaS system, the flow of information to the right person in the right department will be even faster.
The popularity of IoT devices seems to only be rising. The analytics are becoming more powerful too. In the future, the majority of the ads we see are likely to be personalized and aligned with our interests, needs, and location.
Finally, as artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated, we will see this integrated with IoT a lot more as well. Google, for example, is particularly invested in AI that can create content. Perhaps in the not-so-distant future, there will be IoT devices that can not only determine what content would be most helpful for a particular person but can also create and deliver that content at the most opportune time.
With all of these technological advancements, what will really help B2B companies stand out is building strong relationships. Humans are hard-wired for connection. The best B2B marketing strategies will always center around deep relationships built on trust and authenticity.
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