Augmented reality experiences are driving the next evolution of marketing
Creating unique experiences through advancing digital technology is strengthening customer relationships with businesses. One of the fastest-growing and most effective technologies is augmented reality (AR). Unlike virtual reality that creates a totally immersive virtual experience, AR works with and enhances your environment with overlay digital information, typically using a mobile device.
Why AR Matters
Since augmented reality enhances the surrounding environment, it is incredibly mobile-friendly, easily integrating with smartphones and tablets. It incorporates video, animation and 3D interactive images to create unique interactive experiences. Apple’s Tim Cook said that AR will eventually be as important in our everyday lives as eating three meals a day.
There’s no doubt augmented reality is rapidly growing in popularity, and technological advances are making it cost-effective. “This year, the economic impact of virtual and augmented reality is predicted to reach $29.5 billion,” according to HubSpot. It also drastically increases attention and engagement. The Drum reports that AR can capture people’s attention for more than 85 seconds on average, increase interaction rates by 20 percent, and improve click-through rates to purchase by 33 percent.
Enhancing the shopping and buying experience for customers while tracking results in real-time is a core goal for businesses implementing AR. A white paper published by Ventana Research noted that “AR is proven to dramatically speed the buying experience and reduce the time and cost of resources required to address buyers’ needs. The intent should be to develop a compelling new virtual buying experience, one that uses AR to provide a more comprehensive way for buyers to understand and engage with products.”
How is AR Being Used in Marketing?
Since the focus of AR is enhanced experiences, businesses are creating ways for customers to test products before they buy and offering valuable content in an ongoing basis. Direct mailers, brochures and catalogs include scannable codes that unlock experiences that let customers see what certain products will look like in their home, watch video tutorials or testimonials, and even share recipes or how-to videos. Car manufacturers let you see what you look like inside a shiny new vehicle. Clothing retailers create virtual fitting rooms so you can see how styles look on you. Users can share their AR experiences via text, chat apps or social media.
Here are a few specific examples:
- Mary Kay’s Mirror Me app lets users virtually try on makeup and test preset styles to see what works for them. They can even add specific products and product bundles right to their shopping bag inside the app.
- Ikea’s Studio app allows you to see what different furniture will look like in your home.
- Home Depot’s Project Color app previews different paint colors in certain rooms and now includes things like faucets and furniture.
- Taco Bell incorporated AR features on packaging for its popular Doritos Locos Tacos that unlocked product-related Twitter and Facebook content.
- StubHub allows 3D virtual tours of some event venues so customers can visualize the experience from specific seats before buying tickets.
- Netflix has used AR face filters to promote content for upcoming original shows such as the hit series “Stranger Things.”
Two obvious applications for direct selling companies are in the makeup and personal care categories, but AR applications can go beyond products. It can be used to preview and promote branded swag. Scannable codes can be added to customized promotional cards that can link directly to a distributor’s replicated website for shopping. Product packaging can link to video recipes, testimonials, challenges or social media campaigns.
Opportunity presentations can feature interactive experiences that encourage audience participation using their mobile devices. AR can be used to involve customers and distributors in designing product packaging and new product development. By using updated translation technology, some AR platforms can scan and translate text to break down communication barriers.
“[Augmented reality] stands to be one of the driving forces behind sales and marketing innovations over the next decade. Using AR, forward-looking businesses will be able to upgrade the experience they offer their customers, leading to increased business opportunities and sales,” says a projection by SmartInsights.com.
72% of shoppers purchased items they had not planned to purchase because of augmented reality. (smartinsights.com)
69% of customers expect to use AR and VR to sample products in 2021, and 63 percent are willing to use AR and VR to visit remote locations. (Futurum Research)
42.9% Global AR and VR market is expected to experience a 42.9 percent CAGR between 2020 and 2030. (P&S Intelligence).
AP Post’s 5 DOs for Using Augmented Reality in Marketing
- START WITH VIDEO
KEY POINT: Video views and engagement are much easier to track, which lets you know if the content is connecting with the audience. If they enjoy the experience, you may want to invest in other forms of media using the same content.
- COMPARE BENCHMARKS
KEY POINT: The point of using a response mechanism, such as a scannable QR code, is to increase conversions and not necessarily to increase the number of responses.
KEY POINT: Unless you need a fully custom augmented reality experience, choose a tool and platform that makes it easy to upload and manage your AR campaigns.
- PUBLISH YOUR AR EXPERIENCE ON EXISTING PLATFORMS
KEY POINT: If you create AR face filters, they likely could be used on top social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Tik Tok.
- LIMIT EXPECTATIONS
KEY POINT: Give yourself time to experiment, test, and receive feedback when implementing augmented reality experiences. Don’t toss it out after just a few months!