Augmented and Virtual Reality: The Latest Engagement Drivers in B2B Marketing

Augmented reality has been around for almost four decades. However unbelievable, but a Harvard Professor invented it in 1968, but it was only after the Pokémon Go rage that brought it to the limelight. It was only realized in 2016 that AR could be the next best commercial commodity.

In 1968, Harvard professor Ivan Sutherland along with his student, Bob Sproull, invented what they named as The Sword of Damocles. This technology was found closer to VR as compared to AR since the project consisted of a helmet that made the user feel as they were in an alternate reality.

In 1992, the US air force researcher, Louis Rosenburg, developed the very first functional AR system. The robotic system placed information within a person’s work environment to increase work efficiency. The technology grew over the years and was incorporated by multiple industries including Defense, Entertainment, Healthcare, Publishing, Sports, etc.

AR has come a long way but the developments in the past 5-6 years have been more significant.

Augmented Reality v/s Virtual Reality

Mixed Reality these days refers to a mix of augmented and virtual reality. However old these concepts be, there still remains confusion between what exactly is Augmented and Virtual reality and what makes them different from each other.

Augmented Reality combines virtual elements with reality. It projects them on top of real environments. This technology was designed to enhance the utility of both elements together. It lets the user have a camera view with additional 3D digital elements imposed on a space, making the experience more wholesome than a flat ppt or 2D slide. Snapchat filters and Pokémon Go are good examples for a layman to understand the concept.

Virtual Reality, on the other hand, uses computer technology to create an immersive experience for the user. The user experiences him/herself in an entirely new environment and situation where they can move around and perform tasks.

The key difference is that the user finds themselves as a part of an entirely new world in VR as compared to AR.

Why include AR/VR in your Marketing Strategy?

As marketing keeps evolving the need to engage customers and potential clients in new ways becomes more inevitable. With new tools and technology coming in every day, AR and VR are the two major trends dominating the B2B world. In a way combining AR/VR creates interactive experiences that “show instead of telling”, just as we see them in movies over the amazing cox tv. I give you three major reasons to include AR/VR in your next marketing strategy:

Shortened Sales Cycle:

Marketing involves driving customers through various stages of sales funnel and this process is usually a long one with multiple users and stakeholders involved in the final decision-making process.

Consider a situation in which you can create an immersive experience, after a little research over the internet, for the user and stakeholder by bringing the product to life rather than using the flat and boring 2D presentations. This makes explaining every detail and complexity easier. It gives you the liberty to involve people beyond your customers. You can include your engineers, project managers, etc. Thus letting you strike multiple days off your sales cycle.

Greater Personalization:

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a fresh alternative to the old B2B strategy, which focuses on campaigns customized to individual accounts. When it comes to ABM, augmented and virtual realities serve in driving the purchase intent by enriching the entire experience of the sale cycle. Thereby taking the customer from customized content to a personalized experience, making the decision-making process easier. This also lets the presenter and customer identify loopholes and mitigate them effectively.

Brand Differentiator:

We all remember the Pokémon Go craze and how it took over the world by storm. Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t have been the fastest, highest-grossing game had it not have AR. Taking a hint from this, marketers who continuously find themselves hurdled by clutter and shielded by AdBlockers. Gather all thy troubled marketers, you can exploit this opportunity and show a potential customer how your product or service proposition can bring about a change in their lives. Mixed reality in marketing is literally “Don’t tell ’em, Show ’em!”

Go ahead and grab your customer’s attention in the world full of distractions. A word of warning, using AR as a differentiator will not last a lifetime, so exploit the opportunity while there is still room for it.

Talking about bringing personalization to life, AR/VR is the way to go. If you consider mixed reality as a spectrum then VR is the further end of it, you can begin with AR-enabled interactive content, grow into combining both technologies equally and later move towards more immersive VR experiences for the customer over time. Industries like retail, construction, real estate, etc. are just a few, to begin with, that can exploit this tool and change the paradigm of conducting business. Take a look at the following case of a business driving sales using AR:

IKEA Place:

IKEA: the Scandinavian furniture maker became the prime mover in utilizing Apple’s ARKit in developing IKEA Place. The technology uses the customer’s mobile phone to superimpose virtual IKEA products in a given space, thus giving them a more relatable visualization.

They developed a list of over 3200 items that can be virtually placed in any part of the house. The user-friendly interface was one of the first steps towards bringing AR to mainstream thus reducing the amount of guesswork one had to do before purchasing a piece of furniture.

There is a whole lot of examples available where businesses effectively utilized AR to drive more sales and create a more immersive user experience.

Have more to add? Let’s chat in the comments below!

This content is sponsored by Nidi Shahid.

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