If you are keeping up with recent trends, you have probably noticed that virtual reality (VR), as well as augmented reality (AR), are quickly becoming viable marketing channels. Maybe you’re already considering using this technology for your marketing strategy, and you should, as the VR market is predicted to grow from USD 6.1 billion in 2020 to USD 20.9 billion by 2025. Using virtual reality as a marketing tool generates buzz for your brand at tradeshows and delivers memorable experiences for clients. Understanding the features of the technology will help you create concepts and content that appeal to clients and users.

 

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

There is a difference between virtual reality and augmented reality. Virtual reality involves creating an immersive world for users. It simulates a physical or imagined experience, so users have the sensation they are physically in the environment they are experiencing. Augmented reality involves incorporating digital elements into our existing reality instead of creating a new reality, as VR does.

 

From Gaming to Business

The first VR systems and headsets for gaming sprung up in the mid-1990s, with the technology’s usability and practicality developing throughout the early 2000s. In 2012, a prototype of Oculus Rift, one of the first commercially popular headsets in the current VR landscape, was created. Facebook purchased Oculus Rift in 2014, intending to expand the technology for social and communication purposes, in addition to gaming. 2021 is the year we see VR headsets like Oculus Quest 2, HTC Vive Cosmos and Valve Index capable enough to help you meditate, design 3D models and even co-work. Since their creation, these headsets have grown in their purpose, including gaming, entertainment, treating mental health, engineering, and marketing.

 

Creative Concept

Virtual reality has so many possibilities for content marketers that it is difficult to know where to start. Developing an engaging creative concept that takes advantage of VR, instead of one that simply appears on a website, is the first step. However, using the same technique you would use to create content for a 2D medium will not be as effective. Brands must create a 3D interactive environment for their potential customers so your customer feels they are a part of the story. The key to success is to create an environment in which users want to explore and interact.

Some tips:

  • Ensure the experience does not feel like a marketing or advertising effort. Start by building an interesting environment and then use it to lead users to a problem your brand is solving logically, instead of directly selling them your product.
  • Virtual reality is primarily an interactive medium, compared to other visual formats like video, film, and television. Users do not just want to see the story; they want to participate in the story.

Check out this Audi Virtual Reality Experience that shows how Audi is using VR technology to create a 3D immersive and interactive environment for its customer.

This VR experience by Audi is a perfect example demonstrating how VR allows customers to experience more content in an immersive environment.

 

Integrated Content Strategy

Using VR as a marketing tool also allows for the creation of a cohesive content strategy, where your customers can themselves into your content like the Audi VR showroom experience mentioned above. With technology such as this, customers become part of your message and branding strategy. It creates a long-lasting connection that helps customers to remember your brand and very likely recommend it. For example, you can create a video or audio component about your brand, which users will see or hear. As they move through the VR experience and interact with your brand or product, their experience will be informed by these other pieces of custom content.

 

Some tips:

  • Think about the journey of your user, as well as your end goal. Are you trying to build brand awareness? Maybe you want to generate leads? The content within the VR experience needs to reflect this goal. VR can be used at the earliest stages of customer journeys, such as the awareness or consideration stages, to entice them to learn more about your product and brand.
  • An introductory video or tutorial at the beginning of the VR experience can teach users how to navigate and use the controls. This part of the content strategy ensures less confusion for users during the experience.
  • Part of this introduction can be an overview of VR itself, as users may not have used VR before and may be unsure what to expect.
  • Stay on message. It is easy to get lost in the possibilities and stray from your goals by creating something that is interesting but not strategic or necessary.
  • The content strategy should guide users through the experience, so they know what to do and where to go. Using graphic design elements, guide users in the direction you want them to walk or indicate which button to push.

 

Virtual reality allows you to shape the user’s experience and tailor it to your goal. By setting and then meeting users’ expectations will help you reach your business goals.

 

Brand Awareness

Virtual reality is very useful for brand awareness. As the technology is still on the cutting edge, the experience is a novelty. This generates buzz and attention around brands that use it at tradeshows and other events, which attracts users and audiences, regardless of what your brand is selling. Potential clients will seek out your booth to try VR, so you can easily introduce a new product or your brand to a targeted group of potential clients through this technology.

 

Vroom, a U.S based e-commerce and car retailer, used VR to create brand awareness and change the online car buying experience. Vroom created a virtual showroom where customers wear Google Cardboard to browse different car models, interact with various car parts, take 360 degree test drives, and even hear the real engine. Giving customers a lasting experience helped Vroom build brand awareness as to how a car retailer can bring the online car buying journey to life.

 

Brand Storytelling

Virtual reality has immense potential for brand storytelling, as you provide users the opportunity to participate in stories connected to your brand. According to Virtual Reality Brand Power Index 75% of top brands have VR projects. A great example of brand storytelling using VR is Air Canada’s 787 Dreamliner experience. Customers can experience how it feels to fly in a 787 Dreamliner. Not only can they take a look at all the 3 cabins, seat configuration and latest technologies, but they can also enjoy a virtual international business class meal complete with wine. The story is very experiential, grabs users, and shows the power of Air Canada’s brand.

 

Endless Applications for Many Industries

Another reason to use VR as a marketing tool is the endless possibilities for almost every industry, including healthcare, education, pharma, and real estate. It can be used for different types of marketing, as well, such as e-commerce, product launches, and product demonstrations.

 

Fortunately, Pace Creative has experience in creating VR projects. For example, we developed a VR experience for a product launch at a tradeshow. The experience demonstrated the use of a medical device, showing potential clients how the device worked, promoted brand awareness and supported lead generation. View the case study here.

 

Here are a few examples of industries and content that work with VR, instead of just being placed in a VR format.

 

  • Automotive and Transportation – VR and AR have allowed automotive manufactures to train its employee and increase knowledge bases. Volkswagen is using a VR portal called Digital reality hub to train its major workforce while also establishing a platform where employees can share knowledge and learn more quickly and effectively with the help of AR.
  • Medical Devices – Using VR is particularly useful in the demonstration of a product or procedure that would usually incur real physical effects, such as medical devices. It’s possible to show users the usefulness of your product and how to properly use it, like in the case of MasterGuard Plus, whose device helps prevent needlestick injuries during the removal of needles from patients. As well, look to NxStage who used a VR app at a tradeshow to create buzz and showcase their product to the audience.
  • Lab Facilities –You can use VR to show a “behind the scenes” look at your facility or restricted space which clients would not typically be able to access. Check out this lab by FoodChek Systems that allows audiences to immerse themselves into a virtual lab.
  • Oil & Gas – Training students, workers, and engineers is also a great use of VR and AR. This can include training workers to deal with safety hazards and dangerous situations, as well as educating new hires starting their career in the industry. Leading companies like Baker Hughes have taken the steps to enhance their training using VR. Oil and Gas companies are also finding VR and AR help to dramatically boost efficiency and reduce errors and uncertainty by showing the necessary steps, tools, and parts when conducting complex maintenance.
  • Sports – Millions love watching sports, but only a few get a chance to experience it live. Virtual reality now allows the excitement of a live sports event from the comfort of your couch. Many services broadcast
  • Gamification – Without a doubt the gaming industry is taking a big leap when it comes to utilizing the full extent VR and AR, but some companies are also adopting game design elements and principles in non-gaming concepts. PACCAR Parts used gaming elements in their VR experience at a recent trade show that gave the opportunity to users to customize their own “virtual” T610SAR in real-time using the PACCAR Parts T610SAR Accessories configurator.

 

There are many opportunities to use virtual reality as a marketing tool. If you are creative with the concept and execute it well, you can delight users and potential clients with a memorable experience. It is a great opportunity to get creative with your brand storytelling.

 

If you are interested in trying out VR as a marketing tool, do not hesitate to contact us! In fact, VR can play an important role in digital transformation. Check out our blogpost on that topic here!

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