Smart tech – Is it the future of marketing?

Customization and personalization. That’s the “name of the game” in digital marketing today.

And we have lots of tools to accomplish this – automated email campaigns based on segmented audiences; geo-location tracking to offer consumers special deals when they are in close proximity; re-targeting ads based on what consumers have already looked at, etc. In short, we have a lot of technology available that can target our customer base more efficiently and offer them what we know they will find valuable.

But what about the newer tools, specifically smart tech? what role will they have to play in digital marketing?

Just what is smart tech?

A basic definition of smart technology is that it goes beyond just the normal sending and receiving, consumer searching for information, and the traditional turning things on and off. Instead, it offers the consumer much more interaction and control, through use of the Internet. Much of this definition refers to smart devices – phones, TV’s, appliances, cars, personal assistants, etc. Consumers are certainly warming to the idea of using smart tech to control everything from their home security systems to their thermostats.

A broader definition of smart technology is needed, however, especially in the area of digital marketing. While AI and machine learning is a part of the former definition, the use of these smart technologies goes far beyond control of devices.

How smart tech is disrupting marketing

There are many applications of smart technology to marketing, but three of the most apparent right now are big data combined with AI and machine learning, AR/VR, and Chatbots.

Big data analytics

A bank that is looking to market loan products based upon consumer needs and desires will make use of big data and the ability of AI to make predictive analyses. Data scientists have developed algorithms for gathering data from virtually every source on the web, to churn that data, and to make predictions about which loan products certain demographics will want, even what times of the year they may seek certain types of loans. Banks can then use all of this information to develop loan products that they can market to specific demographics.

The implications of big data are clear for marketing. Almost every consumer-based business can make use of the information that it presents, to approach product development and marketing strategies on science, rather than hunches.


AR/VR began with gaming and then came to be popular for entertainment purposes. VR headsets were a huge Christmas gift item in 2017. But this smart technology has now moved far beyond these venues.

Providing consumers with product and service experiences before they make purchasing decisions is what drives marketers to incorporate AR and VR into their marketing campaigns. Consider the following examples:

  1. Eyeglass companies allow customers to try on frames from their computers, so that they can make their selections before going in for their exams.
  2. Online clothing retailers allow customers to try on clothing as they shop from their computers.
  3. Resorts and travel agencies now provide virtual tours and virtual reality experiences of facilities.
  4. Diners can place themselves into restaurant kitchens and watch dishes being prepared
  5. Wine companies have imbedded their stories of production on bottle labels. With a smart phone, a consumer can see the entire process, from vineyard to bottling.

Using this technology provides consumers with interactive and compelling experiences – experiences that bring them into a closer and more personal relationship with companies.


Everyone is familiar with personal assistants, both on their phones and at home. They answer questions, conduct searches, and, with newer AI technology, can “learn” preferences and make suggestions.

Chatbots are like personal assistants that marketers can imbed into their companies’ websites and apps. Armed with AI, these bots can answer questions about products or services. But they also learn as customers interact with them. This allows them to make suggestions based upon gathered data about similar consumer preferences.

Taco Bell introduced the first chatbot for a fast food restaurant in 2016. It not only takes orders for carryout, but it will make suggestions for additional food items based upon what a customer orders.

Another marketing innovation has to do with the expansion of businesses to overseas markets. They have to secure translation of website content, of course, but they can also imbed chatbots that speak the language of the target audience and perform the same functions as they do for the native audience. This provides a foreign customer base with much better experiences. And IBM has recently introduced its Watson Conversation Globalization which will quickly provide translations within chatbots into any number of languages.

Today’s consumer is a tough customer. He wants information and answers immediately; he wants to be engaged and entertained; he wants personalized treatment from companies; and he prefers his voice to tapping keys. Smart tech provides solutions for all of these demands, and marketers would do well to take heed.