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The tide may already have turned towards big data, but the waves are about to get a whole lot bigger. 

From watches and wearables, to beacons and smart home systems, connected devices are expected to exceed 38bn by 2020, and each one will generate valuable data about what consumers think and how they behave.

With the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), we will see a flood of structured data and unstructured data insights.

Advanced technologies will be needed to make best use of this data to tailor communications and target the right audience at the right time.

Some common examples of IoT technology

By gaining control of the tidal wave of data, marketers can move forward with atmospheric marketing and anticipate consumer needs at the most opportune moment.

So what is atmospheric marketing and how can this proactive approach be used to get ahead of customer needs?

Atmospheric marketing

Atmospheric marketing is a term first coined in the 1960s in relation to adapting the display surrounding a product in store to differentiate it and influence customers.

When applied to 21st century marketing, the new digital definition of atmospheric marketing is the use of data signals to understand what the consumer needs before they do and push relevant messaging – taking personalisation to another level.

Atmospheric marketing gets ahead of real-time by predicting and fulfilling consumer needs, anticipating and creating the moment of truth, and delivering a personalised interactive experience.

If brands aren’t going to drown in the flood of IoT-generated data, they will need technologies to aggregate, normalise, and combine it in one place.

By using atmospheric marketing technologies such as visitor-centric customer data platforms, these ever-expanding clouds of dynamic data can be transformed into complete, unified profiles of consumers that can be used to deliver highly personalised messaging.

The relevance of third-party data is beginning to be questioned as marketers realise they cannot always be sure who they are talking to.

Instead, there is increased emphasis on taking real-time visitor data flowing through the business and enriching it with meta-data to build valuable segmentations.

But first-party visitor data is only powerful when it is activated through push notifications to the right audience segment, at the right time, and with the right message or offer. 

Atmospheric marketing is already being used to great effect across a broad spectrum of sectors including retail, transport and banking.

Here are some recent examples of the concept in action:

Meat Pack steals the moment of truth

The Meat Pack shoe retailer’s award-winning ‘hijack’ promotion used GPS tracking technology to send customers a notification containing a promotion as they entered a local competitor’s store.

The notification – issued via the Meat Pack official app – gave customers a discount that started at 99% and decreased by 1% each second until they arrived at the Meat Pack store.

This encouraged the customer to leave the competitor’s store and get to the Meat Pack shop as quickly as possible – stealing the moment of truth from competitors.

Uber personalises journey for music lovers

Ride-sharing service Uber makes use of detailed customer data to optimise the user experience.

While traditional taxi services treat each booking as a separate event, Uber ties each ride to a personal credit card and profile, enabling it to gain detailed insight into where the customer goes and what they do.

The company has further personalised the user experience by partnering with Spotify to allow premium account holders to link their two accounts and listen to personal playlists via the vehicle’s entertainment system while inside the car.

This illustrates experiential use of disruptive technology to improve the consumer experience.

Atom predicts the future for account holders

Atom founder, Anthony Thompson, wants the new online-only bank to be the world’s first telepathic brand, using big data to predict customers’ needs and provide solutions to problems before the customer is even aware of them.

The bank is embracing the rise in mobile banking and always-on connectivity to make banking more accessible, and wants to get so close to customers it can almost read their minds.

For example, rather than sending last month’s statement retrospectively, Atom wants to use data to forecast next month’s statement and send it ahead of time.

The challenges of data management will only increase as data volumes increase exponentially, so now is the time to take control.

As the IoT takes off and countless data points allow marketers to get closer to consumers than ever before, atmospheric marketing can empower brands to aggregate and activate that data, riding the tidal wave rather than drowning in the deluge.

Lindsay McEwan

Published 5 January, 2016 by Lindsay McEwan

Lindsay McEwan is General Manager EMEA at Tealium and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (1)

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Micah-Sage Bolden, Inbound Marketing Consultant at Micah-Sage Consulting

Wow great article! I really have to say I'm excited about the personalization possibilities offered by the growing IoT. I especially loved seeing the Hijack campaign, it was so innovative.

I think that the Hijack campaign is a good example of how smaller brands and local businesses can creatively compete with big box stores - but, I wonder how accessible beacons are for small businesses?

Are beacons & adopting 21st century Atmospheric Marketing techniques feasible (both on a skills level and a financial level) for locally based small businesses?

8 months ago

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