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How Marketers Can Tap Into Virtual Reality

By May 6, 2016January 20th, 2021Resources

It’s estimated that virtual reality devices could reach 24 million sales in 2018 (CCS Insight) and $30 billion in revenue by 2020 (Digi-Capital). Such impressive projected growth and revenue opens a lot of doors for marketers who want to try innovative tactics that incorporate VR devices.

As consumers wade into the waters of virtual reality, the digital tides of work and entertainment are starting to turn. With a variety of headsets from big brands like HTC, Sony, and Samsung hitting stores, many marketers are wondering how they can take advantage of this high-tech trend.

Campaigns that integrate virtual reality stand out from the crowd because they’re immersive and memorable. These campaigns are so engaging that they get people talking, which translates into sales, online shares, website traffic, and social growth. Here’s how marketers can get in on all of the virtual action.

Engaging 360-degree Video

Video is already reigning supreme in the realm of digital marketing, and VR is only going to amplify that selling power. While trickier to produce, 360-degree video can be used for a variety of creative tactics like tours and interactive infographics. Marketers who use 360-degree video for an office tour, a product launch, or an explainer animation must maintain the audience’s attention while taking them on an adventure they won’t forget. Check out this video from Boursin Sensorium that sends viewers on a wild ride:

“Try Before You Buy” Experiences

One of the more innovative ways for brands to use virtual reality in the near future is to create “try before you buy” experiences for potential customers. Not only might it reduce the number of returned product shipments, but also it’s a way for businesses to get ultra creative when displaying products and highlighting features. According to Gartner Group analyst Brian Blau,

Visualizing products using immersion is going to give people a different way of thinking about them. It’s going to allow for different brand experiences. ” (Source)

With virtual reality potentially changing the face of advertising over the next several years, we may soon encounter clothing and accessory brands that let shoppers try on various items before they hit that Buy button. And it won’t be expensive for businesses to provide those experiences to potential customers, either. Google already offers an easy-to-build option, Google Cardboard, which they market as simple and affordable.

Thinking Outside the (Shipping) Box

Brands that ship products can take a page out of Google Cardboard’s book and send creative VR headsets for phones. Inexpensive VR viewers allow businesses to ship or hand out branded materials that consumers can use for immersive experiences. If they’re impressive and handy, it may boost brand loyalty and increase sales. McDonald’s recently tried something similar with its Happy Meal boxes in Sweden, creating a VR viewer that’s easy to set up and fun to use.

In-person Events

Although VR devices are all about enjoying a unique experience from your couch, virtual reality will have an impact on in-person and live events as well. In-person events that incorporate virtual reality encourage shoppers and potential customers to learn more, share their experiences, or buy directly in-store. With VR devices and engaging video on hand, businesses can offer product tours, themed escapes, games, and much more to promote brand awareness and leave a memorable mark on their customers.

Optimizing for Mobile

Today more than ever, it’s important to have mobile-ready websites, videos, and campaigns. With smartphones already taking the lead as a popular instrument for virtual reality, marketers must ensure that all of their digital content is engaging and exciting when delivered on VR devices. Marketing Land recently explored how virtual reality might transform newsletter marketing. Author Jason Warnock says,

By moving beyond static 2-D content to immersive 3-D experiences, email marketers can engage consumers in more meaningful ways, significantly increasing the amount of time the consumer interacts with the brand. As a result, consumers develop deeper relationships with the brand and are more willing to share marketing content with their social communities.” (Source)

If marketing content is fully optimized for the VR experience, a brand’s newsletters, blog posts, and social updates will improve engagement and increase traffic as consumers start using VR devices in everyday life.