Marketers won’t stop talking about virtual reality.
They throw around words like “game changer,” and “revolutionary,” and “disruption.”
But how do you actually use virtual reality in marketing?
Especially when you’re not a huge brand?
You know: not BMW, or Coca Cola, or Marriott, or any of those other corporate behemoths with unlimited budgets who jumped on the VR bandwagon first. How can you benefit?
In this week’s article, that’s exactly what we want to talk about. Read on, and you’ll discover six actionable ways to use virtual reality for marketing your brand…
…even if you don’t have an infinite marketing budget, a dedicated marketing team, and global name recognition.
Let’s dive in!
Virtual reality in marketing research
There are two kinds of entrepreneurs: those who skip past research and “just do it,” and those who actually make money. Next to sales, research and validation are the two most important business skills you can develop.
Incorporating virtual reality in marketing research can save you a lot of money, time, and grief. Let’s examine how exactly you can take advantage of it…
- Use VR to rapidly design and iterate on concepts
Feel free to imagine any and all of these scenarios:
- You want to develop a new product – but you don’t want to commit the money, time, and resources to it until you know you’ll create something that sells…
- You are planning to open a new business location. You want to make sure that you nail every little detail well before your first customer walks in the door…
- You are designing a new gadget for a technically-minded audience. These people are notoriously hard to please, so you want to knock their socks off with the first prototype you create…
In the past, the answer to any of these problems would be to buckle up and prepare to waste money, time, and energy on trial and error. After all, nine out of ten business owners find out what’s wrong only after they launch something. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By incorporating virtual reality in marketing research, you can solve a lot of the problems inherent in the process:
- It costs a ton of time and money to make changes on the fly – well, with VR you can safely change and iterate a simulated model, as many times as you want, virtually for free!
- You waste away in boring project meetings with stakeholders, only to realize that they still don’t understand what you’re trying to do… Virtual reality makes it much easier to engage them in the project, and visualize even the tiniest changes accurately.
- Because of sloppy design and research, scope creep, delays, and unforeseen expenses are a constant danger in any process. VR makes it easy to do your due diligence faster, increasing the chances that you’ll complete the project on time and on budget.
Now, let’s examine how this might work in the real world, using a highly sophisticated project as an example…
Real-life example: McCarthy Building Companies is one of the oldest, and largest, construction companies in the US. They have embraced virtual reality in marketing research, and swear by it. Here’s how they use it:
Before building anything, McCarthy let the project stakeholders walk around the simulated space in VR. They are free to suggest any changes or fixes necessary: moving objects around, pointing out where an extra power outlet is needed, and so on…
When constructing something like a hospital, every detail matters – so McCarthy front-load the work to make sure they nail it well before the building process begins.
How to attract and nurture leads with VR
The sheer amount of data people upload on the internet every second is mind-boggling. On this page, you can observe some of those staggering numbers in real time.
How do you make your message stand out among 24,000 or so gigabytes that appear online each second? It’s not enough to hit “Publish” consistently, or to “know your audience” anymore. Your marketing needs to turn heads and grab attention like Ryan Gosling walking into a bachelorette party.
That’s where VR comes in! Let’s examine how it can attract and nurture new leads for your brand.
- Using virtual reality in content marketing
Content marketing is undergoing a massive shift. In just a couple of decades, we’ve moved from text to images, to video and audio, and beyond. Now, the world is speeding towards interactive experiences like whiteboard interactive videos and – you guessed it – virtual reality.
This tectonic shift affects how your target market reacts to your branded content. Ask yourself:
How often do you get excited for a blog post these days? How about an infographic? A podcast episode? A video? How about a 360 video, or a VR experience?
Even if you’ve never tried the last two, you probably paused and went, “Hmmm, I wonder what it would be like.” As opposed to consuming information, you’re interested in having an experience. And that, right there, is the future of content.
If you want to use virtual reality for marketing your brand, here’s an easy way to start: produce more 360-degree videos. Sure, most marketers will tell you that they don’t count as “real” VR – and then, we imagine, they’ll make a funny high-pitched noise to convey their derision.
But guess what… First, millions of people consume 360 videos while wearing virtual reality headsets, so it totally counts. And second, you can put them up on a 360-friendly platform like YouTube, Facebook, or Littlstar. Then even your potential customers who don’t own VR gear will be able to experience your 360 video content.
Here’s a great use case of how a savvy brand might do it…
Real-life example: This clip from SpaceX is one of the best uses of 360 video in marketing we have seen recently.
The video shows a rocket landing on board a drone ship – which is already more than cool enough! SpaceX could have recorded a simple POV video, and it would still look incredibly impressive. But they decided to emphasize the immersion effect with 360 video, so the viewers would experience the landing as if they were on the ship. Talk about going an extra mile!
- Boost engagement with your leads using VR
Once you have a qualified lead… you’re still not past the hard part!
If you want to have any chance of converting said lead into a paying customer, you want to build a relationship with them. You want to earn their trust.
The trouble is, trying to nurture most leads is like trying to have a serious conversation with an excitable toddler. While in Disney World. And the toddler is riding a sugar high.
OK, we might be exaggerating. Bottom line is, your fight for the customer’s attention doesn’t end after you get their contact details. You still need them to pay attention long enough to learn that you have something worthwhile to offer.
There are many ways to achieve that, but our favorite one is to provide value. Teach your customers something. Solve a problem. Alleviate their pain. Answer a question that’s been on their mind forever.
Virtual reality content will help you do that more effectively than any other alternative. According to STRIVR, data exists that shows users retaining 100% of new information when learning it through a VR experience. Not only that, but they would recall it 12-20% faster in appropriate situations!
Results like these would help you build relationships with potential customers much faster, change the way you train your employees, and have game-changing implications no matter what industry you’re in.
Now, let’s see how a real-world company might approach using VR to increase engagement…
Real-life example: Check out this 360-degree virtual tour of our Solar System, developed by Thought Café animation studio. This is how engaging, educational content might look like in VR: presentation, narration, and a unique point of view all combine to deliver a memorable experience.
How to convert leads into customers with VR
Now, using virtual reality in marketing would be completely unnecessary if it didn’t help you get more customers – but luckily, it can! Let’s look at two strategies you can use to increase your sales with VR, no matter what business you’re in…
- Highlight your unique value proposition
Is there anything at which your brand is the best – or the only one – on the market? Then you want to emphasize that fact in your marketing at every opportunity. Virtual reality offers an impactful, memorable way to do just that.
Here’s a hypothetical example:
Let’s say you manufacture stylish wallets out of synthetic vegan leather. Not the cheap stuff that falls apart after a few weeks – your leather is uniquely durable. As a result, you make awesome, cruelty-free wallets that look and feel like real leather. Quite simply, it’s the most durable, the most ethical product of its kind.
Now, a USP like that is definitely something you want to highlight at every turn. The question is, how best to do that?
If you simply convey this information in a bullet point on your product page copy, it will sway a few potential buyers. That’s great if you want to increase conversion rates directly as the sale is about to happen.
But what if you want to sway skeptical customers? What if you want to drive home your competitive advantage?
Another option would be to create a piece of marketing content that talks about your manufacturing process, and the leather in particular. That’s a more engaging, more memorable way to bring your unique value proposition to the attention of potential customers, and prove to them that your product is the real deal.
Finally, to go an extra mile, you could create a VR experience that walks people through the process of how the leather is made – and highlights why it’s far superior to cheap alternatives.
This was just one example – perhaps far-fetched, but hopefully useful. If there is anything uniquely different or superior about your product or service, using virtual reality for marketing that difference could really help you stand out and attract more customers. Think about your USP – use this article for reference if it helps – and examine how you could convey these “powerful only” factors with virtual marketing.
Let’s see how a real-world brand did it…
Real-life example: TOMS is a company whose USP focuses on philanthropy. They pride themselves on donating a pair of shoes for every pair they sell. So it was logical for TOMS to create a virtual reality marketing campaign around that unique value proposition. And they did, crafting a powerful VR experience that took people on a “giving trip” to Colombia!
- Boost your brand credibility
In case you were wondering, you don’t need a jaw-dropping USP to use virtual reality in marketing whatever you sell!
Here’s an easy question: what’s your most common provable claim about your product or service? Once you have answered that, consider how you might use virtual reality to back up that claim. All it takes is a willingness to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and think a little outside the box.
Are you ready for another slightly-over-the-top example? Here we go!
Do you know all those demos for bulletproof vests, where people are literally shot at with live ammunition? Now, imagine this as a virtual reality experience from the point of view of the tester. It would work almost as well! Because no matter how hard you’d be telling your brain, “It’s not real!” – you would still totally live through getting shot! And even though you wouldn’t feel the impact or poke the bullet holes after, it would still be a memorable experience that proves the product claim.
(See? We told you this example would be over the top.)
Your credibility-boosting VR experience doesn’t have to be dramatic or complicated. Explaining the mechanism behind the product or service, or simply showing it off in action – in virtual reality, of course – would do the trick.
Here’s an actual example we didn’t make up that proves it…
Real-life example: Not long ago, Patron Tequila came out with a virtual reality experience. They used the format to guide people through the entire tequila-making process. Here’s why this content works, despite not being technically impressive (it’s pretty mediocre, as far as VR goes): showing the product or service in action, and explaining the method behind it are two powerful ways to convey proof and credibility. Patron’s video does both – and that’s why it’s a good example of virtual reality in marketing done (reasonably) right.
Improving customer retention with virtual marketing
When it comes to long-term business growth, retaining your customers is at least as important as acquiring them. If you can improve the longevity of your customer relationships, their lifetime value to your brand will increase – and so will your revenues!
Let’s explore how you can use virtual reality in marketing to customers you already have.
- Delight your current customers with a virtual reality experience
Marketing needs to accomplish just one thing to be effective: to evoke an emotional response.
If you can connect with people emotionally before they buy, you will sell more of your product or service. If you continue to do that after they’ve bought, you will get them to buy again and again. Virtual reality is all about emotional engagement, which makes it the perfect medium for the job!
Think… What do your customers care about? What do they really want to experience?
It could be something bombastic, like counting down to the New Year while standing in the middle of Times Square. It could be something reflective and low-key, like hiking in the Rocky Mountains, or scuba diving at a coral reef. Whatever it is, you can identify this desirable experience, and bring it to your customers in VR.
In the past, if you wanted to do something like that, you would have to spend a gigantic amount of money, time, and energy arranging every detail. And for your customers, the entire experience would probably be more nerve-wracking than enjoyable! With virtual marketing, this strategy becomes affordable, effective, and easily scalable.
You don’t even need to craft a hugely impressive experience to make your customers happy – here’s proof…
Real-life example: When you imagine a virtual reality experience, you probably picture something that engages the senses with vibrant visuals and sounds. But what if we think outside the box, and use VR to give your customers the opposite experience?
Meditation can be just as desirable to your target market as something exciting and stimulating. Virtual reality applications like Deep, ZenZone, and others prove that demand exists for all kinds of experiences, not all of them flashy. We hope that this example has inspired you to think outside the box about how you might use virtual marketing!
Virtual reality in marketing YOUR brand
Every industry can use virtual reality to attract more high-quality leads, increase conversions, and accelerate your marketing research process.
We hope that this week’s post has inspired you to think of how this new medium can serve your marketing strategy!
We would love to create a high-converting whiteboard virtual reality video for you. If you want to learn more about virtual reality animation marketing and how it fits into your business goals, we would love to show you what kind of magic we can work for you in VR!
Contact us today to book a no-cost, risk-free pow wow to discuss your idea!