Before we dive into this topic and its potential uses within the B2B marketing space, lets first be clear on the definitions. Augmented reality is the ability to superimpose digital objects and imagery into the real world using a camera (smartphone or tablet) as the conduit. Virtual reality on the other hand, is the creation of an entirely digital world which people can access via immersive technology such as headsets. All make sense? These are technologies which you’ve no doubt seen previously in different forms and variations. But, as the technology develops and becomes more mainstream, these digital realities are starting to make waves in the world of marketing.
Augmented reality reached the headlines in 2016 thanks to the colossal success of the Pokémon Go game. The title, which was downloaded more than 500 million times, sees people walking the street of their neighbourhood and using their phone to find digital characters which were ‘placed’ in a variety of locations by the makers. ‘What does this have to do with B2B marketing?’ I hear you cry. Well, swap Pokémon characters for your product, and swap gamers for your buyers. Now, all of a sudden, your target audience are able to see and experience how your offering could fit into their world. Also, due to the relative levels of awe and wonderment which many users first experience with this technology, it’s a fantastic opportunity to provide a vast amount of information without boring the user. One concern that is worth mentioning though is that Pokémon Go seems to have disappeared from everyday conversation just as quickly as it arrived. So is this indicative of a ‘flash in the pan’ activity, or is there real potential for this tech in the marketing space.
Last Christmas, many of us gave our loved ones and relatives their first experience of virtual reality, thanks to cheap VR headsets that found their way onto the high streets of the UK. Now, there’s nothing funnier that seeing an elderly relative screaming with delight as they experience a virtual roller coaster. But, how can this technology be introduced into the B2B marketing realm? Well, instead of a virtual roller coaster, what if the experience was inside your factory, your showroom, or even inside a product such as a car? Now, regardless of where they are in the world, your buyers can immerse themselves in the digital world which you have built for them. From storytelling and three-dimensional engagement, to capturing the undisturbed attention of your buyers, virtual reality has real potential to generate leads, sales and revenue for B2B businesses. And of course, when you are trying to provide a memorable experience and leave a lasting footprint on the mind of your buyers, few things will be as effective as this tech.
So that’s that – let’s invest!
Not so fast. Yes, augmented reality and virtual reality are showing great potential as marketing channels, but that doesn’t mean you should start throwing your budget at them. First you need to address multiple factors, one of which is will your buyers even be interested in this approach? Like other marketing activities such as ABM, just because this marketing tactic exists, doesn’t mean you need to use it. You have to go through all the typical checks and analyses that you would to determine the potential ROI of any new channel.
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