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Augmented Reality: Bridging the Physical and Digital World

Updated: May 14, 2022

Today, markets are driven more and more by the needs and desires of consumers, and as technology continues to progress there are a growing range of options available for businesses to market their products. More than ever before, businesses are faced with the challenge of breaking through the amount of noise that consumers receive on a daily basis in order to engage with them and hold their attention.

Augmented reality might just be the approach that can make a difference in your marketing strategy.

Augmented reality uses an overlay of digital elements, sound, and other sensory stimuli delivered via technology, like a smartphone or digital billboard, to create an enhanced version of the physical world. Its primary goal is to highlight specific features of the world around us, increase understanding of specific product features, and grant insight into real-world applications of those features.

At the moment, AR is considered a novelty for many brands due to its newness and relative acceptability among consumers, but this newness may contribute to key opportunities for brands that choose to take advantage of it.

AR has the potential to surpass print, digital, and television advertising when it comes to engagement and shock factor. The Drum reports that AR captures consumer’s attention for over 85 seconds, this number surpasses the long accepted 8-second attention span of consumers. The report also stated that interaction rates increased by 20% with the use of AR and improved click-through rates to purchase by 33%.

Like I said before, a major challenge facing businesses is gaining and holding a prospective buyer’s attention. Encountering a creative AR experience isn’t something we’re used to seeing daily. A person may be more likely to interact and engage with the campaign for longer than they would traditional advertising because AR is seen to have a certain “cool-factor” to it.

Check out this example by Pepsi MAX from 2014. This AR experience was placed at a bus stop in London and featured videos of alien abductions, giant robot attacks, and tigers prowling the street. Passersby going about their daily life were immediately captured by experience because it seamlessly combined AR and real time video in a way they didn’t expect. Pepsi used this installation to entertain and get the attention of people without even directly selling their product. This is a major point to consider when the use of augmented reality, oftentimes offering your customers an experience rather than a sale can garner better results.

Augmented reality goes beyond traditional marketing in many ways. Your business can use AR to interact directly with customers, showing them product features and even how to use your product with a handbook built into the experience after they buy.

Marketing using augmented reality allows for businesses to create new experiences for customers and encourage conversations in interesting ways. As new technologies become available, customers will want brands to offer experiences that use it. So it’s important that marketing efforts keep pace with advancements and meet customer expectations.

Today, almost every person has a smartphone in their pocket at all times, this means that mobile has become one of the most significant media types that consumers use to engage brands. AR is another tool that can be used to drive sales and enhance value through mobile devices. Let’s look at some specifics for how you can use AR to engage your customers.

Let customers try it before they buy it

Customers have always wanted to try something before they make their decision to purchase it. With AR the consumer is able to try on clothes without the use of fitting rooms, model makeup to decide the perfect shade that works for them, or see if the paint color they want looks good in their room.

Many brands have taken advantage of these features like L’Oreal allowing customers to see how makeup looks on them digitally or HomeDepot’s Project Color App that lets you check out paint colors and other products in your room at home.

The ability for a customer to test your product digitally can help them more quickly make the decision to purchase by removing barriers that give them time to change their mind. AR can take a lot of the pressure off physically trying something on, worrying about returning it, or insecurity of its features because it can explain it to them in real time.

Improve accessibility and assistance of the product and its features

Being able to see the real life applications of what the customer is going to buy or a walk through on how to use the product can build confidence in the product and push the individual into a purchase.

Bring brand materials to life

If your brand uses print materials like business cards and brochures, adding a digital component to them can enhance the overall experience. These print materials can be scanned with a mobile device that drives the user to a page with more information about the product, your business, and other ways to contact you.

If you add an AR element to your business card, the user could be able to scan it and be directed to a page where all of your contact information is listed in a single click for LinkedIn, email, or phone. Adding this element can increase engagement by simplifying how your customers can reach you.

Transforming B2B sales

AR is at the helm of changing the way that B2B customer/vendor experiences are handled and streamline the entire sales process. Equipping your salesforce with digital devices that give access to customized AR applications that show your product in a space dilutes the need for standard brochures and flyers.

AR salestools can allow customers to interact with a product directly in their space via a mobile device. Seeing a product directly in a meeting space gives the customer additional information and access they need to make a decision.

Vendors are no longer just the salespeople for your business, they offer customization, actively bringing the customer into the design process of the product. Once the purchase is made, the customer can use AR training manuals and guides to gain better understanding of the set up and specifications of the product, making them easier to navigate and a happy, more loyal customer.

AR is still a novelty for many brands, but over the next decade it will continue becoming more mainstream. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, stated that AR will become as important to marketing and sales efforts as “eating three meals a day”.

Since almost everyone has access to a smartphone at all times, AR can become a tool in your digital marketing arsenal that increases engagement and drives sales. Businesses should consider this tool as an effective and forward-looking strategy that will be able to enhance and upgrade their customer’s experience with their brand, and ultimately, lead to increased business opportunities and sales.


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