Reality. Is it really just a reflection of the mind? Is it, after all, only what you make of it? Modern technology begs to differ. Look around you. See anything special? No? Now watch Pokemon Go make a game out of your surroundings! This is the magic that is capturing minds across the globe today. Augmented Reality, also simply referred to as AR.
Huge companies spanning various industries are getting on board the AR bandwagon only now, while there are others like Starbucks and Coca-Cola who have been there, done that half a decade ago.
These brands have demonstrated how this innovative technology can be used to enhance marketing efforts and customer experience.
Up until recently, Augmented Reality was something that was found only in gaming, with little or zero application otherwise. But with every brand out there getting into digital marketing, AR presents a whole world of prospects to those who embrace the digital world. Now, more than ever before, the spotlight’s shining brightly on AR as the next breakthrough in interactive advertising and marketing.
What is quite surprising is that companies are being slow in adopting this technology while they should be jumping on the bandwagon as quickly as possible. In this two-part article, we attempt to give you all the reasons why you should go the AR way. In the second half, we talk about the many factors to take into consideration once you decide to go the AR way. It’s safe to say that when you’re done reading the article, you’ll be all set to be the next coolest brand out there.
Reasons why you should use Augmented Reality:
The truth is in the numbers
It’s true! A staggeringly large number of people have a digital presence today, and we have the numbers to prove it!
The graph above shows the number of internet users in millions (sourced from statista.com).
What this means for companies is that there’s a whole section of your audience who you can reach through the digital medium to support conventional marketing methods. Brands can now interact with their customers like never before. Social media platforms and apps are bridging the distance between the consumer and the brand. AR treats customers to a direct interaction with the brand as opposed to traditional marketing methods where you can only see what they show you in the form of advertising.
With so many people already online and the numbers only growing consistently, it’s the natural course of action to adopt digital to stay relevant and on top of the trends.
Unique Brands, Unique Experiences
This one’s really simple. Each customer is unique, and they have different needs, likes and dislikes. The same kind of marketing technique will not give the same results for different people, solely because of the possibility that their inference is something completely different from what you had intended. This is where AR takes care of your customers by being more personalised. When any consumer is faced with a personalised experience, he is much more likely to choose a brand over another which doesn’t offer the same. Using well-crafted AR strategies, a brand can truly show its customers that they matter and you care about them.
Higher Interaction, More Retention
When you are able to offer the customer an up-close and personal feel, it has immense potential to convert the customer into a regularly returning one. Over the years, there have been enough evidence to prove that even more than the product or service itself, customer service goes a long way in retaining customers and ensuring they are loyal towards a brand. Up until now, offering that kind of customer service has been restricted to very few industries. With AR, though, you have the power in your hands to create a customer experience so unforgettable, they wouldn’t even think of another brand if you get it right.
Let’s be honest, everybody wants in
If none of the facts and benefits mentioned above convinces you to go the AR way, here’s probably the one thing you need to know to get onboard – everybody is working on it! We’re not kidding. When Apple released ARKit, it became evident that this is going to be the next big thing. Google only confirmed these ideas when it released its own ARCore. Facebook isn’t far behind in joining Apple and Google as its very own ARStudio is set to release soon, too. It is now so much more convenient than ever to create an AR app using these robust platforms. Since it’s so easily available, everybody is trying to make the most of it, and you definitely should, too!
Here’s how you go about it
You now have enough reasons to start working on your next big AR campaign. Let’s say you’ve come up with a concept and you’ve to figure out how to execute it like you envisioned it. If you’re reading this, you, most probably, already intend to deploy AR solutions for your company and are researching into how to go about it. Read on to know exactly how!
The foundation matters
First things first, what one needs to understand is that AR works differently for different brands or services. The first thing that you need to do if you are considering Augmented Reality solutions, is to figure out how it can help your brand in a way that will shine the light on those aspects that you want to be seen with AR. The wonderful thing about AR is its flexibility. Consider it as the most detailed canvas to realise your grand ideas.
It helps to clearly note down the key aspects of your brand’s image and identity. This will serve as the basic framework to build your AR campaign upon. Everything that you do has to reflect some or all of these key aspects, otherwise, you’ll be just another new kid on the block playing around with fancy technology.
The thing about Augmented Reality is that it can be used for pretty much anything. Literally. That is also why it is so difficult to create a ground-breaking experience. The key lies in creating something unique to your brand. Something that leaves a mark in the minds of your customers, something they will talk to others about.
Research is gold
Ideas are available aplenty. However, not all ideas would give the desired results, even though the ideas themselves might be exceptional. What makes a difference is an effort that goes into researching and finding out the potential of your AR idea to give you the reach you’re looking for. You need to look into your specific industry and see what has already been done in AR for that industry, and then think about how you can push your idea.
This is really nothing new to any marketing campaign. Research is important, regardless of the marketing channel.
Moving on to the next one, now.
Good quality equals paying up
Perfecting AR ideas and how they materialise is something that comes only from practice and from having worked with AR before. Startups or other individuals who specialise in this have the kind of experience that every brand needs to execute their AR project. It is best to invest your money where there is free-flow of creativity.
When you build an Augmented Reality app, you build much more than just an app! You open a whole gateway to experiential marketing with a plethora of possibilities and great ROI. Therefore it is of utmost importance that you look at those ideas which offer good scalability options, customer journeys and brand transformation
Creating an AR experience has two main components. One is the app, and the other is the content inside the app that’s augmenting the user’s reality. Anyone can do the former, but the latter requires a high level of design thinking combined with a creative imagination that will be able to capture the mind of the user.
Standalone app or integrated AR?
Today, the most popular and common ways that AR is used for marketing is either through a standalone AR app or by integration with social media.
A standalone app gives you complete control over exactly what the customer does with your app. There is also more creative freedom, as you design it from the scratch, and you can do pretty much anything you want. With the space to execute whatever idea you may have, you give creative freedom to the service providers, which is an essential requirement when you’re innovating and experimenting with new ideas.
An integrated AR experience, on the other hand, is when you use social media or some other pre-existing platform to offer an AR experience.
The most popular way to do this is by creating face filters for social media apps like Instagram and Facebook. Users see your brand’s name and take selfies with the brand’s filter, thereby extending the reach of the brand with each click of the camera, one person at a time. Another way of doing this is by placing markers in the real world at which users can navigate to a specific website and point their phone to have an augmented reality experience.
Give some, take a lot
Now, if you have gone through the above-mentioned processes, you would, by now, have a solid idea of what you want out of your AR experience. Let us say, you now have a completed Augmented Reality app in your hand. The next thing now is to get your customers to download the app and check out the awesome things you have for them.
Here’s where the next challenge comes. Customers are a difficult lot, and getting them to download an app is no simple task. The general sentiment tends to lean towards a “why should I?” attitude if they don’t have any worthy incentives to download the app. How you tackle this is by offering special app benefits which they wouldn’t be able to avail otherwise. With your own app, you can also conduct contests and giveaways, have in-app games to keep them entertained and engaged. You may also give discounts which are exclusive to the app.
The small incentives that you offer the customer will bring back a great many benefits for you. A whole app is a marketing tool in a customer’s hand and every time a person uses it, the app is bound to be noticed by the people nearby. If you nail it right on the head with the content, getting more people to download the app would be a cakewalk.
Give a little, take a lot, right?
Let’s conclude things
Augmented Reality is the newest, most novel way to experience products and spaces around you. With the digital information that is displayed over a person’s real-time view, the idea that you can play around and change your reality to whatever extent is something that is definitely fascinating for people from all parts of the world.
You must now be well on your way to making the next big AR thingamajig! Remember, the process might cost you a lot, but if done right, it would be an investment worth every penny.
Are you looking for someone to curate your AR experience? Get in touch with us. We have your back with this one!