The needs and desires of customers are perhaps the biggest drivers of today’s markets. As technology advances, those desires change and keeping pace with those changes is crucial for any brand’s survival.
Augmented reality (AR) is a fast emerging trend in the highly competitive fields of marketing and sales strategies. Augmented Reality allows brands to offer their customers unique experiences through the convenience of their smartphones and other smart devices.
Mobile is one of the most widely used digital device types through which consumers interact with brands and make purchase decisions. AR gives you another tool in your belt when it comes to the task of driving sales and enhancing brand value through mobile devices.
Here’s how you can use Augmented Reality Marketing strategies:
Create a buzz around the brand
Augmented reality can be used as a part of an indirect sales and marketing strategy. Augmented Reality can also be used to enhance the status of the brand itself.
Creating a novel, unexpected or fun augmented reality experience can result in a significant buzz for a brand if executed properly. AR is a relatively new phenomenon for most people. What that means is that a well-designed AR experience will get people talking and generate lasting memories. As people prefer a brand that keeps them happy and satisfied, that kind of exposure and customer goodwill can pay lasting dividends for the brand’s success in the long run.
Let customers try before they buy
Potential customers usually want to try products before purchasing them. Fitting rooms, cosmetic samples, test drives and lots of other related concepts are a testament to the effectiveness of this sales strategy. Augmented shopping experiences are one of the rising trends in the retail industry.
Using AR, prospective customers are able to model and try on makeup, clothing items, and a wide range of home-related products without a need to directly interact with them. AR negates the need for having a large physical inventory in order to allow customers to try on or sample dozens or even hundreds of items in search of the one that best meets their needs.
The applications of augmented reality in this sphere have already begun to multiply as more businesses realize the benefits presented by AR. As you might expect, Facebook has been a pioneer of AR applications. Its augmented reality offering allows users to digitally sample makeup and accessories, allowing them to model how they appear with them before buying anything. The first ever Augmented Reality (AR) advertisement on Facebook gave customers an option to try out virtual sunglasses with the help of the inbuilt cameras on their smart devices.
The cosmetics industry has also been enthusiastic in embracing augmented reality in recent times. Brands like Sephora, L’Oreal and Perfect Corp have created partnerships to allow their customers to see how makeup would look on them digitally. Augmented reality is particularly valuable for online sales strategies involving cosmetics, as consumers almost always need to judge a given makeup item by applying it on themselves.
Another area where AR has the potential to shine is in creating a virtual fitting/trial room. When it comes to purchasing clothing, dressing rooms are necessary. Customers are required to lug stacks of clothing items to the dressing room and then employees are constantly needed to restore discarded items. In addition to this, a store is limited by the inventory on hand when it comes to offering clothing for customers to try on.
The augmented reality changing room gets rid of much of that hassle, allowing customers to tap into a digital library of clothing items at the tap of a finger. Brands like Topshop and Timberland are at the forefront of developing AR fitting and changing rooms to offer their customers a virtual experience and help them select the right clothing items.
Augment branding materials
Augmented reality can take branding materials like business cards and brochures to another level of creativity by adding a virtual component. Users can just scan the cards with their mobile devices and access a variety of features. That can provide customers with more information about the brand. AR-enhanced branding materials improve engagement levels as creators have the ability to inject dynamic virtual elements into the text.
For instance, a user can scan a brochure in the right spot to bring up a video highlighting some aspect of the information being conveyed, bringing a dynamic element to the static text on the brochure. Alternatively, a business card can use AR to present a variety of contact options that will allow the user to get in touch with a single click, whether through email, LinkedIn or by phone call.
Augment touring and assistance
Augmented reality offers the potential for businesses to feature a digital component on top of their physical locations and products. Customers can go ahead and scan a product or object. That will lead them to an AR experience tailored towards giving additional information about the merchandise or some form of supplemental brand-related experience.
This kind of application of AR stretches into numerous industries and markets. For example, the ticket-sales company StubHub created an augmented reality app which allowed users to look at a 3D display of the stadium where the Super Bowl was played. Fans were able to visualize the look of the field from various seats in order to choose the right seat for themselves.
Starbucks has turned to augmented reality to digitize the experience of touring one of their coffee shops. Users are able to scan objects within the shop to access a virtual tour, conveying additional information to supplement the physical site.
Automotive giants Hyundai and Mercedes have also adopted AR applications. Hyundai was the first to create an augmented manual for drivers and Mercedes has taken this concept a step further. Mercedes owners are able to access a feature called ‘Ask Mercedes’, which pairs an AI assistant with an augmented reality interface to answer a large number of questions.
Leverage augmented reality for B2B
Augmented reality can transform the B2B customer/vendor experience in many different ways. The B2B sales process has always been fraught with the tug-of-war between customer expectations and the limitations of what a vendor is realistically able to provide. AR can potentially bring about significant improvements to the entire chain of a B2B sales process.
One of the most significant areas in which AR can improve B2B sales is in creating dynamic sales presentation material. The old model used to arm salespeople with brochures and flyers, and perhaps a PowerPoint presentation. Contrast that with a salesforce equipped with a digital device allowing them to access customized augmented reality applications presenting a virtual 360-degree view of their product lines. It is easy to see which sales team has the upper hand.
AR is also a massive boon when it comes to dealing with customization options. As a general rule, customers are looking for as much customization and specifically tailored products and solutions as they can get. Managing those demands from the vendor side isn’t always easy.
Augmented reality tools can facilitate customers taking an active part in the design of their products. This input can then be digitally conveyed in real time to the vendor, providing a smoother chain of feedback. This will lead to customers getting exactly what they want and vendors being able to provide it for them. AR has the power to make a bridge between customer expectations and vendor fulfillment.
AR offers a similar impact when it comes to post-sales support. Too often, customers find themselves relying on user manuals or online knowledge repositories, which don’t tend to be very useful or easy to understand. This can lead to frustration that results in a customer taking their business elsewhere.
AR sales tools can allow customers to see and interact with products in a very detailed way, from a high-level overview to a granular inspection of individual components. By bringing the product into the meeting room, augmented reality provides customers with a far greater access to the information they need to make a decision.
Augmented reality solutions in the customer support field are only now starting to come to fruition, but the early results have been extremely promising. From AR manuals to the likelihood of remote tech support via AR, augmented reality offers the likelihood of transforming customer service into something more interactive and responsive.
Augmented Reality Marketing: Conclusion
Augmented reality is not just a novelty gimmick or gaming related tool anymore. It is going to be one of the driving forces behind sales and marketing innovations over the next decade. Using AR, progressive and ever-evolving businesses will be able to upgrade the experience they offer their customers. That is bound to boost their sales.