The term ‘Augmented Reality,’ or AR, is sure to conjure up visuals of bulky, high-tech innovations straight out of a futuristic science-fiction movie. However, in simple terms, AR can be described as virtual enhancements in the form of audio, images, or graphics integrated into real-world objects and experiences.
In today’s market, where consumers reign supreme, marketing is driven by their desires and needs. Needless to say, the modern consumer is veering towards digital alternatives and experiences when it comes to making purchase decisions.
In such a scenario, boosting your technology-led digital efforts, including AR experiences, can give you an edge. AR and its significance within the digital marketing sphere have been increasing, and brands are steadily adapting to AR-led innovations within their marketing and sales strategies.
If you’re wondering how to use AR for marketing and sales, let this article help you.
Why Does AR Matter?
Mobiles have become one of the most essential and widespread devices through which customers interact with the virtual world. There are close to 3.5 billion smartphone users today, and almost two-thirds of internet users are using shopping and e-commerce apps on their mobile devices.
With AR technologies, brands have the opportunity to offer these mobile-first customers value and unique experiences in a way like never before. Simply put, AR allows brands to enhance brand value and brand perception through smartphones and mobile devices.
How To Use AR For Marketing and Sales
Now that we’ve established how AR can help make mobile marketing even more impactful, let’s understand how to use AR for marketing.
1. Launch New Products
When it comes to launching a new product, making a splash on social media is a must. OnePlus understands this better than anybody else. For the launch of the OnePlus 8 in April 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic-induced lockdown, they introduced an AR filter on Instagram that allowed people to unbox the newly-launched device in the safety of their own homes.
To experience it, all one needed to do was position the Instagram filter camera on a surface and tap along with the screen’s instructions. By doing so, all the components of the OnePlus 8 smartphone could be accessed virtually. Using available AR resources, OnePlus successfully created a virtual unboxing experience that was an analogous approximation of the real thing.
2. Let Customers Try Before They Buy
It’s no secret that most customers would prefer to try products before choosing to purchase them. Be it the sample corner at the make-up counter of your favourite mall or a test drive before deciding on your next car, the ‘try-before-you-buy’ strategy is undoubtedly effective. Taking this a step ahead, AR helps in adding a new level of personalization to this strategy.
The rise in augmented shopping experiences has helped brands give potential customers a digital alternative to trying out shoes, clothes, make-up, furniture, and even electronics. With digital AR experiences, the need for extensive inventories and warehouses are eliminated. Additionally, brands aren’t confined to geographic boundaries, store timings, and other brick-and-mortar shopping experience restrictions. It allows for significantly more customers to try products and make purchases.
Facebook was one of the first social media platforms allowed by AR applications on its interface. For We Make-Up, an exclusively online cosmetics brand, this translated into an excellent opportunity to give potential customers an AR experience where they could try out shades of a newly-launched liquid lipstick.
When the AR alternative was compared to regular video ads, it was found that the AR ads generated stronger brand awareness (7.9-point lift), inspired more robust engagement (by 38 seconds on average), and boosted purchases (28-point lift).
3. Make Training and Product Guides Interesting
When answering the question of how to use AR for marketing, it’s important to remember that there are a million possibilities. For example, AR can help make the most tedious and drab parts of your customer’s journey more exciting and meaningful.
In 2015, Hyundai became the first automobile giant to launch an AR-led owner’s manual app. The Hyundai Virtual Guide app took an otherwise-boring aspect of the car owner’s journey and made it fun.
Based on data collected from consumer survey results, the developers identified the most difficult-to-use features and incorporated simpler instructions for the same within the AR app. This means that owners looking to learn about their new car’s features and functions wouldn’t have to rifle through a thick, uninspired manual.
The Hyundai Virtual Guide also virtually identifies and provides instructions about the car’s cruise control, air filters, fuse box, steering, wipers, airbags, engine, etc. Undoubtedly, with the smart use of AR, the brand has created a unique experience for its customers, which will help them connect with the car brand in a unique and meaningful way.
4. Elevate Tour or Event Experiences
Augmented reality innovations help businesses add a digital component to physical products, services, or locations. This is an important fact to consider, because it means that with AR, you could make already-enticing events, product launches, premiers, festivals, or places even more enticing to your target group. Alternatively, AR can help enliven experiences for newer target groups.
Let’s see how this phenomenon comes to life with the example of Augtraveler. The Delhi-based AR app/platform uses a variety of technology and multimedia resources to help create a more interactive experience for anyone interacting with UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.
With the app, it becomes easier for tourists to learn about the facts, figures, history and heritage of where they are. Additionally, the app also makes it possible to interact with the culture of the place, which has usually evolved dynamically over centuries.
Also Read: What is Marketing Analytics?
5. Generating Brand Buzz
Another answer to the ‘how to use AR for marketing’ question is to use this technology as a part of your brand’s indirect marketing and sales strategy. While many AR apps and platforms are explicitly focused on boosting sales and taking over a larger share of the market, AR innovations can also be used to enhance the perception and image of the brand.
With the right communication strategy, brands can choose to offer augmented reality experiences that are fun, novel, creative, and engaging – all assets when it comes to gaining favour with customers. When executed effectively, such inventions have the power to get people talking, which goes a long way in creating a buzz around your brand, product, or service.
Uber took this insight a step ahead with the AR experience they launched in Zurich in 2017. With a ‘magic mirror’ TV screen that was installed inside a Zurich train station, the AR innovation allowed passersby to be transported (virtually, of course) to a variety of ‘adventures’. Ranging from the beautiful sights of San Francisco to the wild Australian outback, it allowed people to experience novel ‘adventures’ in a seemingly pedestrian setting.
With strategies like these, brands benefit in a multitude of ways. In competitive market scenarios, such AR-led strategies for indirect marketing help brands stand out from the competition and gain favour among their target groups.
While this article can act as a thought-starter for marketers looking to understand how to use AR for marketing, it can only take you so far.
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