Three Ways to Personalize the Internet of Things

If you want to gain loyal customers in the Internet of Things (IoT) market, you have to act now with the kind of personalization and integration that leads to deep user satisfaction. By now, you’ve likely heard that the number of Internet-connected devices is expected to surpass 40 billion by 2020. The brands that will compete and survive are those that know how to maximize the convenience, usefulness and adaptability of their IoT devices and create business value out of IoT data. It all starts with a powerful personalization strategy built on an intimate 360-degree view of your users.

Following are three ways you can deliver game-changing personalization in the rapidly changing IoT era.

Three Ways Advanced Personalization Can Make Great IoT Products Even Better

  1. Deliver Highly Targeted Messaging

Sonos is already a popular wireless audio system for the smart home. The system can access speakers in every room of your house, playing custom music for each setting, and is controlled through a free app that connects to your various music libraries.

Undoubtedly, Sonos has amazing data on the ways in which individuals select and engage with music in their day-to-day lives. Imagine if the company were to use this data to target users with messages they want to hear — whether they’re about new music offers, the latest Sonos integrations, or opportunities to share their playlists with others. What advanced personalization opportunities has Sonos not yet taken advantage of?

Researchers from Javra Software, a development company in the Netherlands, asked the same question when they developed a creative IoT use case. They set up three Sonos devices in three different areas, each paired with its own iBeacon. When walking through the different “zones” with an iBeacon-enabled smartphone, your preferred playlist for that zone automatically starts playing. When you leave each zone, the music stops until you enter your next zone and your next personalized playlist or station. It’s easy to imagine making dinner in the kitchen while listening to Aretha Franklin and then carrying your plates to the dining room where you’re instantly met with Chopin’s nocturnes.

The brilliance of this use case is that it enhances Sonos’s capabilities with iBeacon’s location-responsiveness to give users precisely what they want, when and where they want it. If Sonos took this one step further to deliver messages that are responsive to location, time of day, user-listening preferences, and all the other customer insights they have gathered, they could create more meaningful, relevant and engaging listening experiences.

  1. Play Well With Other Devices and Services

As technologist Jason Perlow notes, “nobody really wants to own a collection of devices that do similar things and operate in silos.” IoT is not an isolated system. IoT objects and services must integrate seamlessly with users’ existing technologies, devices and systems. If they don’t, consumers will abandon the limiting IoT product for another that plays well with others.

Perlow argues that Sonos and Amazon Echo could benefit from a partnership that allows their users to access each other’s best features even though they are competitors. Sonos users could gain access to Prime music and voice-recognition capabilities, and Echo users could gain Sonos’s “multi-room mesh network.” This isn’t such a crazy idea; Sonos is already working to allow more third-party music services to easily integrate their apps with its functionalities. The company decided to launch these new APIs (application programming interfaces) specifically because users want them, explaining that “Sonos users want to control their Sonos systems with their favorite music service apps.”

To cite an example other than Sonos, Lutron Electronics Co. transitioned to the IoT landscape by “expanding its relationships with existing dealers, including Home Depot, Magnolia Design and Amazon.” Lutron wanted to make its products more accessible and anticipated the
“increased connection that manufacturers and retailers will have in the IoT era.” Its IoT products can be integrated with other home-services apps and home-lighting and electronics systems.

As of now, we don’t have a standard platform for IoT devices. That’s why, as an IoT vendor, your business goals must shift from simply trying to sell more of your products to users, to allowing them to use your products to talk to the other objects and devices they regularly use. That’s how you become integral, useful and indispensable to customers.

  1. Evolve With Multiple Unique Personas

Use your IoT product to communicate with each unique and ever-evolving user through rich, data-backed user personas. By tethering all the data generated by IoT devices to individual users — recording their preferences, habits, goals and behaviors — brands will be able to continually adapt the customer experience to match each user’s unique desires. This starts from the moment someone first interacts with your brand — whether through social media, an email, a website visit, an in-store purchase or a registration process for your IoT product.

HAPIfork is “an electronic fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It also alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you are eating too fast.” The company listened to feedback from HAPIfork users who felt the device wasn’t sensitive enough to their unique goals and eating habits to develop 3 distinct user profiles. HAPIfork owners can try all three to see which works best with their eating style. This is a great start toward using personas to offer advanced personalization, but it still limits people to only three types.

SunnLight is a smart light fixture that mimics natural lighting to keep your circadian rhythms in sync. Through the Sunn app, users set and continue to fine-tune their daily light preferences — from an alarm that wakes you with gradual sunrise to “moon glow” lighting for those midnight calls of nature. The company’s goal is for Sunn to get to know each user individually, making precise adjustments to lighting, according to the user’s own body and schedule, throughout the day.

To maximize the potential of your user data, make sure it is not siloed within your organization. While it should be tied to your user personas, it should also be accessible companywide to enhance the personalization and convenience of all your products, services and touchpoints. You may want this user persona to one day communicate with a new product line or app, and if you can connect your customers to a new service that already understands their individual preferences, they are more likely to remain loyal and satisfied.

Get Ahead of the IoT Curve With Personalization Technology

The right marketing technology is your key to building an infrastructure for great IoT customer experiences. You want the ability to gather a 360-degree view of the customer and extend your content-marketing experiences to all screens and devices — from a smartphone to the home to retail locations. Choose a marketing platform that allows you to reach IoT devices and wearables and supports digital-content testing, optimization and personalization beyond web browsers.