This is one of the most exciting times to be part of marketing. New technologies are changing how we approach our target audiences and existing customers. While challenging to a certain extent, in terms of understanding what this technology is capable of doing for our marketing objectives (with many technologies still evolving), there are many ways you can start benefiting from what already exists.
Exploring augmented reality
Augmented reality is defined by Live Science as a technology that adds another dimension to how we view the world by layering information onto what we currently experience in the form of visuals, sounds and other sensory experiences. As opposed to virtual reality, augmented reality changes your reality to a certain degree but does not immerse you in a different world.
Companies such as Google Glass have developed devices to incorporate augmented reality into their product. Now, they are seeking additional ways to create new experiences for their customers and prospects with this technology. While you may not be at the point where you can develop the technology, you can think of ways to use what’s already out there in your own marketing strategy. Here are some ideas.
Think of augmented reality as adding another dimension to what you are already implementing with your content. It allows your audience to upgrade the content they are interacting with by adding or subtracting filters or visual stickers you can create and provide. Empower them to customize the content how they like before sharing it with others.
Both you and your audience help create that dimension. For example, you can use it in your product catalog. Allow the user to lay a product over a certain environment to see how it would fit or work for them. Consider how augmented reality can provide that “try before you buy” feeling so buyers can experience more realistic online purchases. In this way, augmented reality content could be the solution for a challenge that has plagued industries related to selling furniture, makeup and clothing online. Focus on the fun, accessibility and visualization aspects within your augmented reality content, keeping in mind what your audience wants to see and how it will help them.
This strategy in content and messaging doesn’t have to uniquely apply to your website. You can incorporate the “try before you buy” approach into advertising campaigns. Think about taking gamification in advertising. Enhance interaction and immersion using augmented reality. Give the user more control of what direction your advertising will take them without losing the ability to get your message across. Make the user feel empowered and less like they are being sold to.
You can incorporate virtual tours and case studies that the user manipulates to navigate to the offer that is of the greatest value to them. That also helps enhance the personalization aspect of what you are trying to achieve.
If your budget and technology talent can accommodate it, the next step in leveraging augmented reality within your company is developing your own apps that allow your audience to interact with your brand more directly.
Using this strategy, some brands have already found that they can convince users that their app provides superior interaction features over existing social media platforms. As a result, others have joined users on these apps and created a social-media based community around that brand. Encourage users to share their augmented reality experiences in terms of how they are using the app and what it can do for them.
Things to ponder before adding augmented reality
Like any marketing technology or social media platform, you shouldn’t toss augmented reality into your marketing strategy because it seems like the thing to do or because everyone else is doing it. This type of technology may not yet be ready or relevant to every industry. Make sure you can effectively use augmented reality in one or more of the aforementioned ways.
Before launching any use of augmented reality, test it again and again until you know it offers a truly unique, engaging experience for your audience. This may mean investing in user testing, which is well worth the return to ensure you get it right. If you can get the audience excited from the start, the virtual enthusiasm will rise incrementally. That will give you something to build on with your other marketing efforts and potentially increase the number of shares and likes you receive through social media.
Take it slow. Stay attuned to further developments in augmented reality so you can add the technological innovations as you continue using it throughout your marketing strategy and beyond.