Looking to increase customer engagement? Successful marketers are winning customer attention by employing immersive technology strategies such as augmented reality and virtual reality. Can these relatively new technologies work for your small business?
Previously associated with the gaming industry, immersive technology refers to tech which allows the replication of the physical world by creating a surrounding sensory feeling—creating a sense of immersion.
The technology includes virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality and small businesses are just beginning to find uses for engaging experiences.
Augmented Reality (AR)
You’ve probably seen AR in action plenty of times without realizing what the technology could mean for your marketing strategy. AR places digital images on top of real-world video the same way Snapchat and Instagram filters work. Remember the popularity of Pokémon Go a few years ago? Users walked around neighborhoods seeking digital “species” hiding in real-world locations.
Furniture businesses use AR so users can choose a piece of furniture and virtually place it in their rooms to see how it fits/looks. Many eyeglass websites have similar applications so users can virtually try on eyeglass frames before they buy. In the beauty industry, AR allows people to try on makeup, like lipstick and nail polish, virtually to see how it looks.
Snapchat has made creating and using AR simple for businesses by providing a production tool called Lens Studio. It allows businesses to create both Face Lenses (front camera experiences) and World Lenses (rear camera experiences). The tool provides several templates to get businesses started on creating attention for their companies.
Virtual Reality (VR)
VR is a complete immersion technology comprised of a computer-generated replication or simulation of a real-life situation. Users feel like they are actually seeing and hearing things in the environment created by the technology. VR is used prevalently in the real estate industry for home seekers wanting to tour homes without actually having to be there.
Even more than AR, VR allows marketers to connect with customers in a more personal way by bringing the company’s features and solutions directly to the consumer. Again, furniture and home product retailers can provide online shopping like never before with VR showrooms. Likewise, architects, designers, and construction companies can show real-world examples of their work and/or create a mock world of what could be created. And, travel and tourism entrepreneurs can give potential travelers a taste of the experience and locale without leaving their computers.
Like AR, the technology exists and is ready for small businesses to take a test drive. Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR / VR 2, and Oculus from Facebook are just three VR systems businesses can use to apply VR to boost customer experiences.
Mixed Reality (MR)
Mixed reality is what it sounds like—a mix between AR and VR—and is currently being used by small businesses for training, project development, and sales. Going beyond mere overlays, MR allows users to anchor virtual objects to the real world for interaction. It’s the blending of physical and digital spaces by employing cameras, sensors, and microphones working together to recognize and react to the surrounding environment.
As expected, retailers have adopted MR to enhance customer experience in apparel, home décor, and accessories. MR tech currently available includes Microsoft HoloLens 2, Vuzix Smart Glasses, and Magic Leap.
If you’re wondering if your customers are ready to interact with your business using immersive technology, a recent Nielsen global survey indicates a positive reaction. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents confirm their lives are busier and more complex than they were two years ago and as a result, many are turning to technology to help provide the solutions needed to simplify their lives. The study also shows that 51% are willing to seek out immersive technology as a way to assess purchases and making shopping less stressful.
For businesses looking to build brand awareness and make memorable customer experiences, augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality technology has the potential to create the kind of engagement that keeps customers coming back for more.
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