Being told VR and AR are ‘the next big things’ that we should getting on board with isn’t the most helpful advice you’ll ever hear. Where should you start? What about the cost of the technology? What about the technical capabilities and coding needed to make it a worthwhile exercise?

However, this has just changed and actually now is the time. And here’s why.

A new kid on the block, WakingApp, is removing barriers to entry with the launch of an open beta for its VR and AR creation platform, ENTiTi. It’s free, it’s easy and there’s no programming required.

It may only be free for a few months until enough brands are on board, but the advantages sound great. With the barriers seemingly removed, does this mean we are about to embark on a brave new world of VR and AR?

What is VR and AR?

Firstly, there is a difference between VR and AR.

  • Virtual reality is a 3D landscape which you can move around in and navigate. As you move, so does your landscape and environment. This requires a VR viewer, which could take the form of a smartphone.
  • Augmented reality places animated figures, characters or objectives over the top of a designated surface when viewed through a smartphone screen.

What role could VR and/or AR have in marketing?

Like any other successful marketing tactic, it still needs to have a clear objective, resonance for your audience, a measure of success and a positive impact on your business. This shouldn’t be technology for technology’s sake – it should be a tool or a means to an end. The fact that it is still quite new and ‘cool’ to many consumers is an added bonus when it comes to people’s perception of your brand.

Crucially, though, I think VR/AR could play a role at every stage of the customer journey. There are obvious examples such as games where VR/AR becomes the commodity itself – a whole new range of products to sell – but I think there is a much bigger world of VR/AR waiting to be explored.

If we take each stage of the customer journey in turn:

Awareness

Partnership marketing, especially with charities, is fairly standard practice these days. One of the key benefits of VR/AR is the ability to create greater levels of empathy as you can step into someone else’s shoes. Whatever partner charity you have, this could be a more immersive and powerful way for your customers to get involved, making your approach more authentic and proactive.

Engagement

Similar to advocacy & loyalty below, VR/AR could provide a great piece of content to persuade potential customers you are the brand for them. When you launch a new product, how do you persuade and demonstrate to potential customers that what you have to offer is superior to what else is on the market? We all know experiencing a product is the best way to sell it, but this could go even further to showing people the production process and being transparent about your business.

Conversion

Try before you buy! Imagine being able to design and place your potential new furniture into a recreation of your room? This could be ideal for brands like MADE or Nabru. If a consumer wanted to try on that new outfit before buying it online (you could even combine it with wearable tech to make it even more accurate), you would therefore cut returns.

Advocacy & loyalty

This is the richest vein of potential for me, the added value this can bring to customers to build loyalty and advocacy. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is already doing some of this with Wikkeez where you collect characters which encourages loyalty. But you could go even further, providing exclusive VR and AR experiences and content to your loyal customers.

Upsell/cross-sell

Taking the furniture example from above, VR gives the marketer the perfect opportunity to make suggestions ‘to complete the look’ and otherwise upsell.

Real life inspiration is out there and this is increasingly becoming less of a marginal marketing activity.

So what next?

What this really comes down to is content marketing, with VR/AR being another string to add to your bow. Rather than a blog post about a new product launch, why not try a VR experience showing the evolution and development of that product? Rather than a press release about a new charity initiative, why not look at an AR experience to create a deeper level of engagement for the cause among your customers?

And we are going to put our money where our mouth is too and give WakingApp a go. Watch this space for RocketMill’s step into VR/AR!