Unlocking a New Dimension of Customer Engagement: The Rise of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
Along with technological advancements in AI, the fields of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have skyrocketed in growth and accessibility, transforming the way industries create and put out content. In the past, AR and VR have been largely associated with video games and other forms of entertainment, but now they’re carving out a path in the world of marketing.
Defining AR and VR
While it’s easy to use these terms synonymously, the differences are broad:
- Augmented reality (AR): This involves overlaying information digitally onto our real world. It enhances the user’s perception and creates an interactive experience which is usually done by utilizing smartphones, tablets, and even smart glasses to superimpose digitally generated elements. A great example of AR is Pokemon Go as users could interact with reality while also “seeing” Pokemon through their smartphones.
- Virtual reality (VR): VR immerses individuals in a completely virtual simulated environment that is wholly separate from our real world. This is done by wearing a VR headset so users are transported into a computer-generated environment in which they can explore, interact with, and feel immersed in another world. An example of this is a flight simulator or a NASCAR simulation which places users in a virtual environment not part of their current reality.
So what’s the reason for the rise in popularity of AR and VR?
For starters, our world has taken leaps in technology advancements. While the price of augmented and virtual reality remained costly in years past, the development of higher-performing devices, improved digital graphics, and more affordable supplies has made these technologies accessible to the public and businesses.
Because of this, individuals are experiencing the world around them differently, allowing them to engage with digital content, stories, and adventures not previously offered. People are gravitating towards this immersion as they crave immersive marketing experiences.
As new technologies grow and develop, marketing agencies are thinking: “how do we evolve, too?” Here are a few ways virtual reality in marketing can benefit marketers as they use technology to grow.
Immersive Storytelling: Marketers provide their customers with immersive narratives and experiences, and they can encourage the brands they work with to draw their ideal audience in with emotional connection and realities. VR, for instance, can offer virtual tours or simulations. Customers can fully interact and immerse themselves with a brand’s offerings that traditional marketing can’t quite do.
Interactive Campaigns: AR and VR open a world of possibilities for engaging with advertising campaigns. Great examples of this include brands creating AR filters/lenses for social platforms and allowing their users to interact virtually with products or other branded content. These interactive campaigns increase brand visibility and awareness, too!
Product Visualization: Several brands (including Amazon) have jumped on board with visualizing products in your home. AR apps take a live look at your room and can place virtual furniture into the living space which allows you to see how well it fits (or doesn’t!), compliments the surrounding colors, and more. These moments of visualization act two-fold: one, they allow customers to purchase the best choice for them (meaning fewer returns), and two, they can place multiple items in their virtual room and add more details and decor (meaning more sales).
Engagement and Data Collection
Just like with the rise of AI, marketers are rightly hesitant and unsure of what AR and VR will mean for them. But the possibilities are endless! Augmented and virtual realities foster a deep engagement by immersing consumers in a fully branded experience. And this engagement leads to brand recall, customer loyalty, and the coveted word-of-mouth referrals!
These experiences are useful for generating and collecting customer behavior and preference data. This is leverageable for marketing companies as this data gives insights into their customer engagement patterns, how to clarify campaigns, and personalize plans.
And don’t forget the appeal of rewards and gaming. There’s a reason that AR and VR were first introduced into the gaming world as it encourages user participation and engagement via rewards and goals. Not only will this approach increase engagement like we mentioned earlier, but it helps build brand loyalty and sell products and services.
What to keep in mind
While customer engagement with AR and VR is becoming more mainstream and popularized, there are challenges and barriers. One such being technological challenges due to the cost of the required hardware and software. There’s a lot of time, money, and effort that goes into these specialized realities, and creating seamless experiences is often complex.
Developing stories and experiences means using special skills and resources. This will include ongoing content updates, patches, and maintenance so each experience is kept fresh and new without overlapping stories feeling stagnant.
This new age of marketing is as exciting as it is challenging. Brands will captivate audiences by telling more interesting stories and fostering deeper connections.
Whether your company hopes to use it for product visualization or interactive campaigns, both AR and VR allow you to stand out in an oversaturated market.
These technologies will continue to challenge and evolve – let us talk you through how you can stand to gain a competitive edge in the marketing world!