What is Virtual World Marketing?
This type of marketing is about enabling your products and brand to promote themselves through a combination of augmented reality and virtual technology. Although the technology created is fake, the environment is realistic. Depending on the device you use, your marketing can be multi-sensory or visual. A full reality headset is generally required for a 100 percent immersive experience. You can also overlay pictures or objects onto the camera view with a VR filter.
These types of filters are used for AR or augmented reality marketing. AR marketing involves overlaying a virtual image onto the real world for a dramatic effect. The most common virtual reality marketing strategy involves AR marketing because it is simpler and less expensive for your business than creating an immersive experience with a headset. Augmented reality only needs a desktop app or a phone, making it much more accessible for the average consumer.
Augmented reality initially began with games such as the incredibly popular Pokemon Go. As brands started realizing the possibilities with this technology, they began using it for their marketing. The first company to make augmented reality popular was Sephora. The cosmetics company created a Virtual Artist app based on augmented reality.
Keys to a Successful Virtual Reality Marketing Strategy
A lot of people believe VR is specifically for games and requires a large technological investment to enjoy the experience. This is not true. Every time you use a smartphone, you are accessing VR. For this reason alone, you need to understand the importance of VR for a successful marketing campaign. Here are some of the innovative ways to use VR in your marketing strategy:
- You can use VR to close the distance between experience and action.
- For the promotion of a digital experience to enhance your services or products.
- You can promote your existing products or place a spotlight on products still in development. By creating something unique, you can invite consumers to join the experience. The result is both an interest in your creation and an excellent source of feedback.
- You can change the dynamic between consumers and your brand with VR. Consumers prefer the VR brand experience as opposed to clicking in and out of ads and using ad blockers.
- Your engagement rates will most likely improve because consumers come to you instead of finding a way to catch their interest.
- Using VR to distinguish your brand offers you a tremendous advantage over your competition since the popularity of the technology is consistently increasing.
- If you start using VR as a marketing tool now, you gain the advantage of innovating and testing new tactics before the world of VR explodes. Once VR becomes common, you will be one of the leaders in your field.
Augmented reality is quickly becoming a trend for sales strategies and marketing. You can use your brand to offer consumers a unique experience just by using their mobile devices. Think of AR and VR as tools to enhance the value of your brand and drive sales through the use of mobile devices. VR is not strictly for gaming or just a passing novelty. The belief is VR will become a driving force for marketing and sales innovations within the next 10 years.
By using VR technology you can enhance the experience you are offering consumers to increase both your sales and opportunities. You can give consumers the opportunity to try your service or products before they make a purchase through the increasingly popular augmented shopping experience. Whether you are offering test drives for a new truck or launching a new clothing line, you can create an experience to make shopping in person or at home much easier.
You have the opportunity to add a digital component in addition to your chosen physical location. Consumers will be able to access your strategy customized to offer them an experience related specifically to your brand. You can use VR for brochures and business cards to reach an entirely new level. Consumers can use their mobile devices for scanning printed materials. This enables them to access a wide variety of features offering additional information and ways to make contact with your brand.
Whether your business is B2C or B2B, you can take advantage of the numerous benefits available through both VR and AR. As the popularity continues to increase, more and more businesses will be offering a VR and AR experience. You can gain an advantage by using this technology now. This technology is already being used by brands to enable consumers to try products virtually before deciding if they want to make a purchase. By offering your customers this type of service, you are significantly decreasing returns.
Approximately 64 percent of returns made for online purchases are because the product or service failed to meet the consumer’s expectations. You can increase your revenue and lower your costs simply by reducing returns. The loss from any product you are unable to resell is also drastically reduced. Businesses are already reaping the rewards from VR. Positive ROI and early success have already been reported by numerous businesses including shoe, cosmetics and furniture companies.
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Virtual Reality Marketing Examples
There are a lot of virtual reality marketing examples. Some of the best are outlined below.
New York Times
The New York Times used VR to tell an incredible visual story. A few years ago, the company had Google cardboard glasses delivered to their subscribers so they could watch a VR film. The times repeated this strategy several times with different films. Only the most loyal subscribers were sent the glasses as a reward or incentive for their loyalty to the brand. The films were chosen specifically for their appeal to philanthropists and intellectuals because these individuals are their main audience.
One film was titled Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart. The film offered those obsessed with space the chance of personally and closely investigating the planet. The documentary was called The Displaced. The film took an intimate look at how children across the globe have been displaced due to war. The experience had an emotional intensity reinforcing loyalty for the brand for three different products, the featured films, the New York Times and the glasses. Here is what this looked like:
The World of Home Improvement
One of the most popular home improvement stores is Lowe’s. The company used a VR initiative enabling consumers to see exactly how their home would appear after completing home improvements. Lowe’s established a partnership with Microsoft for an experience enabling consumers to choose specific products and designs to help visualize how they will look in their home after the improvements. The next step was integrating the Pinterest boards of the consumers.
This type of strategy offers a lot of benefits. Consumer data is gathered by the VR system for important and extremely valuable market research. Lowe’s could then develop the best possible marketing strategy. Another app based on VR was used by IKEA. Customers were able to put furniture directly into their homes to determine fit, feel and appearance. This is one of the most practical, accessible and simplest VR applications developed to date. For example:
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(Image Credit: Digiday)
Toms Shoes has a reputation for philanthropy. Every time a customer purchases a pair of shoes, the company gives away another pair. Their VR tool was ingenious. The company created the experience of a trip to Peru with someone giving away a pair of shoes. Everything was set up inside the store for the customer experience. This is an excellent example of the emotional power of VR. The company tapped into the feelings of its customers to effectively sell their shoes with a fantastic marketing campaign. For instance:
(Image Credit: ARPost)
Test Driving a Volvo
If there is no dealership in the vicinity, VR can be effectively used to simulate the experience. Volvo did exactly this just a few years ago. The company is consistently releasing updated versions consumers can download easily right on their mobile phones. This strategy is referred to as the Google Cardboard initiative. You can also find it as a downloadable app if you do not have Google Cardboard available. The marketing strategy was brilliant because Volvo was once more on the map.
The initiative was innovative, brilliant and easily accessible. Volvo is now offering a different version of the app called Weekend Escape with 360-degree landscapes. Consumers relate Volvo to the adventure in their heads. This added practicality to Volvo branding which is something the company was lacking in the past. The image below shows what test driving a Volvo in VR can look like:
(Image Credit: Marketing Land)
Outdoor Hiking Shoes
The Merrell brand is well known for hiking shoes. When the company launched a new hiking shoe called TrailScape, they created an entirely new experience. Consumers could participate in a 4-D hiking experience. The multisensory campaign was the first time a specific technology called Oculus Rift was used. Occulus includes different elements of walking such as a variety of surfaces and rockslides.
The consumers must navigate around these obstacles. Merrell premiered the experience at the Sundance festival for an effective marketing element using film to cross-promote its outdoor gear. The experience was completely immersive to help ensure the guests would remember everything. Something similar was accomplished by The North Face. Participants were given the opportunity to hike through both Nepal and Yosemite National Park.
When you want to reach a specialized market, this kind of immersive experience is ideal. Consumers felt what exploring was like, which provided them with motivation and a reason to purchase the shoes. The campaign was just as effective for The North Face as it was for Merrell.
(Image Credit: Hypergrid Business)
The Traveling Experience
Thomas Cook is a travel agency based in the United Kingdom. A few years ago the company initiated a campaign enabling travel agents to experience specific trips in order to promote them to clients better. The campaign was called Try Before You Fly. This is an excellent example of how VR marketing can be used for both B2C and B2B tourism. By understanding what it was like to take a trip they were selling, the agents were able to better understand the needs of their clients. For instance:
(Image Credit: Creativepool)
Happy Goggles and McDonald’s
As the largest fast-food business on the globe, Mcdonald’s introduced a much simpler VR experience. The strategy was to make it accessible to customers under the age of 12. The Happy Meal Box created by the company was the ideal fit for a VR headset. The basis of the initiative was Google Cardboard. The difference was McDonald’s used a different slant to offer an affordable and simple VR experience. Instructions were included on the boxes for assembly at home.
By providing customers with the opportunity to build the box at home in addition to ensuring it was easy enough for children, McDonald’s led the way. The company ensured all consumers could take advantage of this technology through a fun and simple tool as opposed to an unachievable and high-tech investment. This is a great example of repurposing. For example:
(Image Credit: Toms Guide)
Benefits of Virtual Reality and Marketing
Virtual reality marketing offers you a wide range of benefits. Some of the best are detailed below.
When running any marketing campaign, keeping your eye on the most recent trends is always a good idea. This includes the popular VR trend. VR is no longer exclusive to a group of proverbial nerds or tech fans. Since VR remains a novelty, consumers want to participate in the experience. When a consumer sees a VR headset, they become interested in the screen message inside of the headset.
You can distribute your content much easier than ever before to all of your potential customers. Your marketing campaign becomes significantly more credible due to the interest of the media and the public. This means your engagement will be higher.
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Offering a Personalized Experience
You can alter your VR to suit both the demands of your business and the users. A good example is a realtor interested in showing a specific home for sale. A personalized VR tour can be created including suggestions and information tailored for the potential buyer. Another example is demonstrating a new vehicle with the potential buyer including their preferred style and colors. You can effectively use different formats to customize each experience such as computer-generated imagery and 360 video.
FACT: Message Personalization is the number one tactic used by email marketers to improve performance. (HubSpot)
VR offers you a lot of scalable options. You can send out hundreds of invitations for a new live-streaming video or show a basic panoramic image to just one person. VR is incredibly scalable including your budget. Even if you have a very small company, you can afford to rent the equipment necessary for a VR campaign. Your promotional activities can be kept private or you can reach an immense audience simultaneously. You can scale your ambitions, audience and budget to the way you want everything perceived by the public with VR.
Grabbing the Attention
When you see anyone wearing a VR headset, the crowd will pay attention. They want to know what is happening and if they can see. These responses are standard for anyone watching someone experience VR. You can attract a crowd by giving one of your potential customers a VR headset to wear. Virtual reality and marketing are about grabbing the attention.
You can have a live presentation and show videos and photos of a presentation from the past and capture the attention of your target audience. Simply announce you will be showing a new VR show in a nearby location. You will receive maximum impact because your audience will hear and see your message in 360 degrees.
Creating the Shared Experience
You can offer a personalized experience or the exact opposite by running your VR presentation on numerous headsets at the same time. You can use a VR sync application for the creation of virtual cinemas in numerous locations. You can run corporate video messages, stream live video and push your content through large numbers of VR glasses simultaneously. The idea is to create a communal experience minus the distractions common for a typical presentation.
Exploring the Possibilities
You can scale VR technology for both the real-world and the virtual world. Coming up with the ideal marketing campaign can be difficult simply because the possibilities are virtually unlimited. If you need assistance, there are VR professionals available to help while customizing your campaign according to the demands and desires of your business.
Remaining Secret from Your Competition
You can introduce new services or products while keeping your competition in the dark by showing your message through a VR headset to one consumer at a time. By using content unavailable online, you can show your chosen customers your latest services and products. Your customers will be enticed by the secrecy and feel special for being chosen. The other exhibitors will have no idea what is happening behind your VR glasses.
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Virtual Reality Marketing is used to bridge the gap between experience and action. It uses a digital experience in place of a physical one, which can provide potential customers with a more realistic idea of the product they wish to buy.
There are so many examples of good virtual reality. Here are the top industries that use VR:
- Tech Industry.
- VR in Military simulations.
- VR in Sports training.
- VR in Mental Health healing.
- VR in Medical Training.
- VR in Education.
- VR in Fashion.
Virtual Reality works by simulating the vision and creating a 3D environment. In a marketing environment, it allows the customer to see themselves in certain situations or in specific products. A try before you buy scenario.
In digital marketing, augmented reality and virtual reality play an important role in increasing sales. Give the customers an experience of using your products and services. Augmented reality can help people who wish to buy a used car or new car to make a better purchase decision.
The short answer is yes, it is worth it. It allows people to visualize a product or service in their own lives. This adds the personalization needed to provide customers with the confirmation they seek in order to make a good purchase.