Connectivity is an opportunity for brands to reinvent the way they interact with their customers throughout the product ownership life-cycle

The nature and number of connected devices is exploding. These are products that, when turned on, have the ability to connect to networks and other devices through Bluetooth and wireless technologies. While the capabilities built in to them to allow customers instant feature access from smart devices, the true breakthrough for these devices may lay elsewhere – the customer experience.

Marketing has always been a disconnected activity; disconnected that is from the product itself. Say you buy a product from a retailer, it is then the retailer that blasts you with emails to get you to buy again. Only for products with a formal registration process for which a customer has taken the time to sign up will that manufacturer have a chance to have a direct relationship. This distinction is critical: do I have an affiliation with the Bolle sunglasses I wear or with the Sunglass Hut that sold them to me? Clearly, by wearing or otherwise interacting with a brand every day, there is a strong brand connection which changes the fundamental nature of marketing.

Retailers have universally adopted a blast and batch strategy of sending x number of emails per week that may be dynamically altered by certain rules and triggers. They do this to squeeze those incremental dollars per campaign that email, an inexpensive medium, do achieve. Connected brands don’t need to do this. They can focus on useful communications strategies around the product ownership life-cycle.

For example:

  • 3 days after a purchase to make sure the product experience is great and offer up information, support, or connections to a user community for those that need help;
  • Publish product usage behaviors and statistics with advice on how to get more value out of the product by using additional features
  • Create relevant event triggered emails when new products or features are introduced, a warranty needs to be extended, or preferred customer events are taking place

In other words, useful lifecycle messaging that strengthens the brand relationship rather than a continuous and never ending stream of emails that deaden the experience. Three highly relevant emails per month will achieve significantly greater returns than four blasts per week. But, connected devices provide an opportunity to go way beyond this. Now, we can consider designing the entire customer experience directly into the product.

Home automation products like intelligent thermostats, home security, remote lighting and locks all connect to a wireless or mobile network and “phone home.” The products report their location and telemetry data which is published to an owner’s portal in real time. Self-service databases and access to support give a portal a real purpose by reducing support cost and improving the customer experience. Further, many devices can contain sophisticated health monitoring software that can automatically open a support case and schedule a truck roll with exactly the right part numbers, to fix a problem before the owner ever knew of it. A great customer portal will even contain a preference center where product owners can let brands know exactly how many and what type of communications they would like to receive.

Designing the customer experience into the product can then provide the manufacturer of 100% product registration rates, unlock new revenue opportunities and reduce support and service expense as well as deflect returns. And all this without significant and incremental burdens on marketing staff to support the batch and blast strategy of old marketing communications. Smart manufacturers are doing this now, and reaping the benefits that follow.