Memorable marketing is extremely hard to attain in today’s digital marketing environment; ad clicks are rarely intentional, and ad blockers are rampant. Creating truly unique experiences is the key to customer acquisition and information retention. As immersive mediums, virtual and augmented reality are the two most effective tools for cultivating customer awareness and engagement. Effective usage of the two can significantly improve your marketing and branding results. Here are four quick tips to make that happen.
Focus on Storytelling: Make it Fun
The big advantage that VR and AR have over other forms of media is their immersiveness. When you are in a VR headset, you feel like you’re actually in another place. When you use AR, you feel like the content is actually with you in your environment. Use this to your advantage; tell a story, get people interested and let them lose themselves in your content.
Make it interactive! Engagement in marketing material is much easier to foster with VR and AR as compared to other mediums since there is real interactivity. We retain much more of what we experience in VR and AR than traditional mediums; use this to your advantage!
Lowe’s uses virtual reality classes in stores to teach customers about home improvement. Virtual reality classes had a much higher information retention rate when compared to standard how-to YouTube videos. This serves to both help customers retain knowledge on home improvement, and improve Lowe’s brand loyalty.
Education over Promotion
For startups, the suggestion is often made to focus on education over promotion. The reason for this is that as a startup your product would often be significantly differentiated from the major players and at that point, target customers learning of the product would buy it regardless of the promotion. This advice isn’t limited to startups though; it is limited by product differentiation.
At the present moment, a VR experience is differentiation all on its own. When you get your customer into a VR headset and teach them about what they’re buying, the industry, a relevant skill, etc. you become invaluable to the customer, differentiating yourself to a large degree. Additionally as previously mentioned, and found by Lowe’s, VR allows for much higher information retention rates compared to traditional media due to the experiential aspect of it. VR learning is also hands-on, fun and far more interactive. It is even possible to integrate a social element to the learning process. What happens in this scenario is that both parties win; the customer remembers your message better, and the customer gets to have a lot of fun and learn something at the same time. The whole concept of content marketing is to be useful to customers, and VR is a great venue from which to do so.
Don’t Imitate: Showcase
Maintaining and protecting brands is everything. If your company has a non-replicable experience associated with its brand, do not cheapen it with a poor VR imitation; instead, use VR to showcase the most interesting aspects of your product. A person interested in buying a new Ferrari is not going to be impressed with the driving mechanics, sounds and feel of a VR Ferrari, however, touring the interior of a Ferrari from the comfort of your own home is would be rather interesting. Similarly, a VR roller coaster isn’t quite a real rollercoaster, so be sure to make the difference clear if you plan to integrate VR into your theme park’s marketing strategy.
Volvo uses VR to let customers experience it’s new SUV the XC90. Volvo isn’t known for driving mechanics, but rather interior and exterior design as well as safety features. These features are very well represented by VR, and don’t require a customer to drive down to a dealership in order to experience. Additionally, this makes Volvo look more modern, which is beneficial as they’ve been perceived as more traditional than other manufacturers.
A possible “fun” addition to this experience would be showing car crashes from inside Volvos as compared to other cars. Volvo can present its superior safety features extremely effectively in this way.
Fit Software with Hardware
This seems like somewhat trite advice, but it can be difficult if not heavily contemplated; especially when it comes to targeting the proper channels and markets. Different markets, different contexts, different price ranges all matter when it comes to deciding the right platform for your VR software.
If you’re selling low priced paints, maybe an HTC Vive isn’t the best channel to showcase the different colors (as opposed to a headset like the Oculus Go). Similarly, a person shopping for chairs would prefer to use AR to see how the chair looks in their room over an HTC Vive. However, if you’re in a high-tech showroom selling several thousand dollar items, having only a Google Cardboard is disappointing.
What VR and AR marketing comes down to is maximizing the strengths of the medium and not trying to make it do something it isn’t meant to. VR and AR are not meant to replace real life; it is supposed to make traditional media more immersive and experiential. Use it as such to increase awareness of and engagement with your business.