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Ask Kara: What is the role of email in the Internet of Things?

By Kara Trivunovic
Perhaps this question should really be – what is the role of real-time data in my email program? After all, isn’t that what the Internet of Things (IoT) brings to marketers – more real-time data?  
Most of us already use a variety of real-time data points to trigger experiences in email. New sign ups, checking in at a hotel, making a purchase, changing a password and the list goes on. 
Leveraging real-time data in email marketing is nothing new. What the IoT offers marketers are more connected moments with real-time data to add even greater value to the customer dialogue. 
For example, my electric toothbrush is now a connected device providing information around how frequently I am using my toothbrush, how long I brush my teeth for and when I may need to replace the toothbrush head. Each of these moments presents an opportunity for marketers to reach me with real-time, relevant communications and offers. For example, a reminder email to purchase a new toothbrush head with an offer coupon can be more well-timed than ever before thanks to the IoT. 
The connected toothbrush also makes the experience more than “just brushing my teeth.” As a result, I am more engaged in the process and it provides an opportunity for CPG companies to build a relationship with me, beyond “it’s just my toothbrush.”  
Even further, through connected sports products coaches and players alike can hone their craft with in-depth insights on how to improve their game. For marketers, we are now part of this journey in real-time and not just sitting on the sidelines. It affords us the opportunity to send weekly email updates of performance and offer potential areas of focus.  Each of these moments also offers an opportunity to cross-sell and upsell with a soft approach – all based on how the player is performing and what the anticipated trajectory for growth looks like. 
The IoT is still evolving but all signs point to long term adoption of connected devices by consumers. As you think about how to incorporate data gleaned from the IoT into your email program –treat this information as you would any other real-time data you are receiving.
You must embrace it, look at it a little differently and commit to truly delivering your customers an experience.
Consumers are communicating with brands all the time – looking for information, generating feedback, commenting on brands and buying products.
Andy Frawley, Epsilon CEO, defines each of these decisions as “atomic moments of truth” in his book Igniting Customer Connections. As marketers, we need to recognize that every atomic moment of truth is an opportunity to impact engagement and experience, to create value for a customer. And the IoToffers us more opportunities than ever before to create positive experiences for our customers.
Kara Trivunovic is vice president, digital solutions for marketing services provider Epsilon. If you have any questions about email marketing you would like Kara to answer, email them to her at You can remain anonymous.

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