Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have exploded in popularity over the past few years and are quickly becoming one of the top marketing trends. In an industry where it is difficult to stand out, these innovative technologies will certainly help!
CNET defines AR and VR as follows:
- Augmented reality (AR): “AR is when you look at the real world and see it overlaid, or augmented, with location-specific information and graphics.”
- Virtual reality (VR): “VR is when the sights and sounds around you are replaced with virtual, computer-generated ones.”
How can you use AR and VR in your marketing?
If you’re a gamer, you are already familiar with how these two technologies are used, but probably haven’t given too much thought to how you can use them to lure in new customers.
Let’s take a look:
Playing games keeps users engaged for several hours and, as marketers, we also want to engage our prospects as long as we can. We want to deliver the type of experience that makes us memorable (hopefully it will be a positive memory unless something goes drastically wrong with your AR/VR experiment). Keeping prospects engaged early on in the sales cycle is key to moving them through the funnel, the most important step here being the evaluation phase.
Often, when I talk with clients, I hear the following:
- So and so has a failed implementation and wants to move off of X product.
- I’m looking at a pipeline of new prospects who want to work with us because their current partner doesn’t understand their requirements.
Putting AR and VR to work in the evaluation phase can remove much of the angst prospects have when they’re procuring new solutions and can help them identify who has the solution they need. They may have already decided to make a purchase but must choose whether to buy from you, your competition, or directly from the publisher.
It’s at this crucial moment where these technologies can help your solution, and your value as a partner, stand out. By using augmented or virtual reality, you can help your prospect experience your solution up close and personally to see exactly why it’s superior. It’s like a trade show, a site visit, and a marketing presentation rolled into one.
Using Virtual Reality in Marketing
Virtual Reality uses a concept called Presence, which is the idea that when you are wearing a virtual reality headset, the virtual environment you see around you seems real and you feel present within it.
Because the environment is entirely virtual, it can be manipulated and changed to fit your marketing needs. It is a great technology to use when you’re trying to explain how a solution is used and how a prospect can put it to work. They can walk away feeling like they already know what to do (great for training users on complex technology, for example).
While it still may be too technically complex or tough to pull off for most of us, Virtual Reality gives you control over the marketing experience. If you want to show how your solution would interact with a prospect’s workflow, put them directly into a solution demo or add visual cues to highlight features, all with the push of a button. The idea here is to engage the prospect in a discussion where you can answer their questions.
Often just getting the prospect to the discussion part is the toughest of all! Using VR can engage them quickly and early, enable them to interact with your solution, and open the door to a conversation. It might be a great marketing tactic for your next trade show.
Piqued your interest? Looking for ideas on how to put this to work in your own marketing? Mbryonic recently published some amazing use cases to check out.
Using Augmented Reality in Marketing
Augmented Reality doesn’t require a big, bulky headset like Virtual Reality—just a smartphone and an app. AR allows you to create more engaging content for your customers and to deliver immersive experiences with your brand or content, connecting customers and prospects on an emotional and physical level. Other benefits include creative ways of showcasing products and services and enhancing user engagement and understanding.
Reinvent the product demo
All too often I see demos that are reused from the Publisher’s website with a partner logo slapped on it. Instead you could use touch screens, tablets, cameras, and 3D animations to demonstrate how your Field Service solution, for example, works. Show how the solution can monitor the IoT sensors on a pipeline in a remote location, or help them work with a technician to problem solve while they are in the field.
Draw people to your trade show booth
Ever heard of an AR mirror? I admit that, until I did the research for this blog, neither had I. But what a great concept!
Ever wanted to get a picture in front of the Tower of Pisa, or the Taj Mahal, but don’t have the opportunity to go there? Or want to see how you would look in Napoleon’s outfit? An AR mirror is a photo booth that allows viewers to see themselves in these scenarios. You can use these fun, immersive experiences to attract visitors to your booth. Have them take a photo of themselves, print it out (with your logo on it of course), and voila they’ve got a new memento to share with their family and friends. And hopefully they will share it on social media so your logo reaches new audiences.
Create Visual, Interactive Learning Experiences
Those Microsoft partners who are selling and deploying Microsoft 365 will be familiar with the term ‘active entitlement,’ which is really measuring whether the user is using the license they’ve procured. As we know, the more you can get users to use a product, the less likely they’ll be to defect to competing technologies.
So, how about using AR to help you with your active entitlement initiatives? Try using HoloLens which is a great technology for visual learners. Like good old fashioned ‘show and tell,’ you can develop digitized, interactive experiences to help users learn and engage with the product.
There are many more use cases for AR than this blog can address so I encourage you to do your research to reinvent your prospect and customer experiences with this exciting technology.
Let us know if you need help with creative ways to use AR and VR in your marketing!