Incorporating virtual reality into your ongoing marketing campaigns is a decision that brings with it a number of distinct advantages, essentially all at the exact same time. For starters, you’re creating a far more unique experience than a lot of people are probably used to – particularly if your competitors are still bombarding people with blog posts, white papers and other forms of static (not to mention unimpressive) content.
But not only does this help your brand stand out in a crowd, but it also allows you to form a much deeper connection between you and the members of your target audience, too. Yes, channels like social media are great for engagement – but the right approach to virtual reality can really take that to the next level, offering an experience that people will literally not be able to get through other means.
Finally, you’re creating the type of experience that also helps you totally avoid online ad blockers – something that is becoming a bigger problem for marketers of all types as time goes on. According to one recent study, about 30% of all Internet users currently employ ad blocking software and by creating content that people actually want to engage with, suddenly you have access to this not-insignificant portion of your audience that is essentially locked off to your competitors.
But at the same time, a VR virtual reality campaign requires an approach that is a fair bit different than what you may be used to with other types of collateral. Therefore, if you want to wield the full power of this 21st century marketing opportunity to your advantage, there are a few key things you’ll need to keep in mind.
Harnessing the Intent of Virtual Reality
By far, the most important thing for you to understand about taking advantage of virtual reality marketing is that what you’re really trying to do is put someone “inside” the experience you’ve created for them. Another related example that is growing in popularity over the last few years is augmented reality, which is where you take something from the virtual world and place it “inside” the real world.
So with augmented reality, for example, someone might point their phone at their living room and, via an app, a piece of furniture or some other type of product might appear on screen as if it were inside the room. This is almost the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do with virtual reality, as you’re trying to transport someone “inside” the virtual world that you’ve created for them.
To get an idea of just how powerful this can be when executed properly, consider some of the fascinating ways that professionals are using virtual reality in a real estate setting. Especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional open houses to showcase listings are pretty much off the table for the foreseeable future. But with virtual reality, realtors have used 3D reality capture technology to essentially create “virtual models” of the homes in question. A prospective buyer can “walk through” the home using nothing more than their phone, all without ever leaving the comfort of their current residence.
In this situation, you could even hire a voice actor to “walk through” the home with someone, explaining some of the more impressive features and characteristics of the home in a way that recreates what the in-person experience might be like!
But a key part of your success to that end will depend on your ability to craft the types of experiences that are somewhat open ended. So in the above example, you wouldn’t necessarily want to force people to virtually walk through a home and look at rooms in a specific order that they can’t waver from. You would want to give the impression that they can move freely throughout the house, viewing images and taking a closer look at things in any order that they’d like.
To that end, it may be helpful to sit down with a tree diagram maker like Visme (which I founded) to “map out” the potential ways in which an experience can play out. Once you know all of the different options people can choose at a given moment, you’ll be able to put something together that at the very least gives them the illusion of the type of free will they would have in real life.
Creating More Compelling Experiences Than Ever
Of course, making an effort to integrate virtual reality into your marketing campaign will have other long-term benefits, too. Chiefly, what you’re really doing is totally changing the dynamic between your brand and the customers that you’ve dedicated yourself to serving. Rather than looking at this relationship as a one-way street – meaning that you publish content and ask people to passively consume it – you’re bringing people into the creation of those experiences at a basic level.
Rather than writing a 5,000 word blog post about an upcoming product before it launches, for example, you could create a virtual reality experience that showcases the development process itself. You can let people peek behind the curtain to see not just what you’re doing, but how you’re doing it. They can see how much hard work and creativity goes into the products they love, and it will absolutely change their perspective as a result.
Plus, these days people seek out virtual reality experiences – particularly as an alternative to the monotony of day-to-day life. So if you can create content that positively impacts the relationship between your brand and your target audience AND do so via a technology that gets people to come directly to you as opposed to you needing to go out and find them, you’ll come out all the better for it.
In the end, virtual reality is an exceptional way to really distinguish your brand and stand out from your competitors – but it shouldn’t be the only marketing opportunity that you explore. Content marketing is also a viable way to get around ad blockers by crafting the type of compelling, interesting, relevant and thoughtful content that people actually want to read – so be sure to use services like Respona to research as many topics as you can.
But especially as more and more people purchase VR-capable devices like Apple’s iPhone or iPad, the demand for virtual reality content is only going to grow. Getting in on this revolution while it’s still in its early stages is a great way to leave your competitors in the dust tomorrow.
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder ofVisme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder ofHindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.