Virtual reality is all the rage right now. As the leading VR platforms become more widely accessible to the general public, awareness of this technology’s power is rapidly spreading. Yet your customers don’t need cutting edge equipment to participate in a VR experience.
As a consequence, more and more businesses are exploring ways to capitalize on this growing craze, and make it work for their marketing campaigns, and even in-house applications. Here are just a few of the ways you could use VR within your business, and what this might mean for the future of digital marketing.
Virtual Reality for Product Visualization and Demonstration
One of the more obvious applications of virtual reality is that it makes prototyping and product demos much more effective. For example, Ford has embraced this technology to allow engineering teams, and even consumers, to explore VR models of new cars. The engineers can climb inside the virtual car, and closely examine each part, rather than relying on life-size physical models which are expensive to create, and have various technical limitations.
VR is also ideal for showing off your products to customers, especially if your business operates online. Instead of viewing a series of flat images, customers can examine the product in a virtual space, allowing them to view it from any angle, and visualize it exactly as it would appear before them in actuality.
This can even be used to help customers choose personalization options, such as recolors, or changes to materials. Ecommerce software companies like Shopify are already in the process of incorporating this functionality into their offerings.
The more information a customer can gather about a product they are interested in, the more likely it is that you can close a sale. This is largely because by providing the customer with increased agency, and making their options as transparent as possible, you build a stronger sense of trust and familiarity with your brand.
VR Spaces for Training and Collaboration
When your team is spread across numerous locations, or collaborators are operating on different timetables, it can be hard to keep everyone on the same page, let alone get them all in one place. VR spaces take multi-site collaboration to the next level by enabling teams to work together in the same spaces, with the added benefit of being able to visualize prototypes, explore locations, and evaluate equipment in a 3D environment.
This can also be invaluable for training programs. When adopting new equipment or technologies, it can take time to bring everyone up to speed. This is even more the case with sensitive equipment that could be easily damaged, or in cases when you have far more staff to train than there are units available for them to work with.
VR enables you to train more staff at once, while removing the risk of any harm coming to them or the equipment during the training process. The novelty of this experience also means staff are likely to be more engaged with their training and have better retention of the instruction provided.
Consumer Engagement Through Virtual Reality Experiences
Your customers are always looking for something new and different, so why not give them a real look behind the scenes of your business with a virtual reality tour? The immersion of a VR experience means that users can’t help but feel engaged.
Adding an interactive element to the tour also gives your customers a sense of agency within the experience, enabling them to learn more about your business, on their own terms. Of course, if you are in the games industry, you could even explore the development of VR games, or create small-scale VR offerings to demonstrate what you’re working on.
Another option is to develop VR chat rooms, so users can explore your products, or your chosen VR experience, in an environment where they can also communicate with other users. This fosters productive discussions about your brand, builds excitement, and increases the chance that users will spread the word to friends and family.
Marketing via VR Storytelling
Successful marketing is all about storytelling, and what better way to draw your audience into your brand’s narrative than with virtual reality. As VR applications can be run from most mobile phones, your customers could tap into a VR experience from almost anywhere.
Once again, a large part of the draw of VR right now is its novelty and associated immersion, so users are far more likely to click on your content because it has VR compatibility than they are to go to a competing resource without that functionality.
Naturally, VR also opens up a range of new possibilities for brand narrative, especially once you integrate other marketing channels into your overarching strategy. Better still, you can even incorporate your other advertising endeavors into your VR campaign, by making it possible for users to view things like your Twitter feed, or Facebook page within their VR experience.
While this might seem redundant at first glance, it can actually increase immersion and contribute to the formation of a seamless user experience.
Of course, there are countless potential applications for VR, and this list will only grow as the technology becomes more advanced and more readily available. As such, now is as good a time as any to get involved, and bring your business up to date with the latest in marketing technology.
For the moment, VR experiences are still seen as an innovative extra, but it won’t be long before they become the expectation for many consumers. So even if you start small and build up to something more sophisticated over the coming years, embracing this growing technology now will give you a headstart over your competitors, and a chance to really wow your audience with your commitment to the user experience.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, she shares tips on ecommerce and how websites can improve their reach. She is passionate about using her experience to help others run better online businesses.