Digital Marketing 2020: Harnessing the Power of AR/VR in B2B Marketing

18-Oct-2019 05:19 PM Digital Marketing

There is a constant change in how marketing is done, with constant change in technologies. Some technologies stick around for a long time, but some fade away into obscurity. As digital marketing is evolving, the marketers’ ways to engage with customers have also changed.

Videos and PPT presentations were the go-to tools for marketers for the past two decades, helping them win many clients and earn top dollars. The rise of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is the future of marketing.

What are Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)?

VR is a computer-generated simulation of a virtual, three-dimensional environment that gives users the ability to feel as though they are inside another virtual space they can control and interact with. Two examples of VR devices are Google Earth VR and Star Trek Holodeck.

AR, though it doesn’t simulate an entirely new world, augments the natural world with virtual images and other sensory elements by overlaying a real environment with graphics, sounds, and smells. We have already experienced AR in video games, and in sports broadcasting where the scores seem to pop out of the screen while athletes play in the background.

While there are startups working on AR and VR technologies, Mixed Reality (MR) is also gaining traction. It places artificial information and objects positionally and rotationally correct into 3D space in real-time. MR can give B2B marketers a greater chance of carving a niche brand image in the market.

Why Marketers Have Kept Away From VR/AR

While some marketers have started to use VR/AR, some remain skeptical, citing some of the following reasons:

It is an expensive technology: The equipment to create these virtual worlds may not be cheap, but in the long run, it can offer returns that exceed the cost. There are tools of all budgets, and so marketers can work their way up slowly into the VR/AR world.

The technology is highly complex: The technology may seem complex today, but so did video and PPT presentations when they were first introduced to marketing, along with some marketing tactics. The tools have become streamlined and they are not hard to work with. Besides, using them adds to creativity in marketing.

It has no practical usage: Some may see AR/VR tools as flashy items that no one understands and without much practical value in business. 

Reasons for Marketers to Use VR/AR

Studies say that 40% of all experiences in 2022 will be VR/AR. The benefits of VR and AR are many:

It offers personalized experience: Personalized experience has become critical in today’s business world, as customers demand buying experience that is tailored to their needs. It can drive intent to purchase letting buyers experience the impact of the product on their own workspace and address their problems.

It makes sense because marketers are finding it difficult to make a mark in the digital world. Saturated by content and shielded by AdBlockers, marketers can turn to AR/VR and show the customer that they truly understand them. The AR/VR mix can make them feel like they are living inside a live demo rather than watching a presentation.

It is multisensory in nature: VR/AR creates a multisensory experience that cannot be replicated by any other medium, and appeal to a buyer's emotions. When you bring customers into your brand’s world, you’ll engage with your clients and prospects on a deeper level, forging a long-lasting connection between your brand and buyer.

Presenting an idea through words is challenging, which is why marketers prefer to reduce the number of words in their demos and use the power of visual communication.

It shortens the sales cycle: B2B business deals involve a buying committee consisting of multiple shareholders making buying journeys longer than B2C ones, even after multiple product demos. AR/VR provides the stakeholders with an immersive and realistic experience with the product. This technology shows clients the product experience which speeds up the decision-making process which can take days or weeks off the sales cycle.

Ways B2B Organizations Can Use AR/AR

It can demonstrate a product: AR/AR technology helps you create product demonstration immersing products and shows how the product can be used. Since visual content stays for a longer period of time than traditional demonstration tools, this technology gives prospects a deeper look at your product than any other medium of communication.

It can make you a tradeshow hero: Attracting a crowd is one of the biggest challenges of marketers in tradeshows and events. By using AR/VR, marketers can give them a fun, immersive, and engaging experience that they’ll remember for days. Your presentation may also get media coverage that will help your company in the long run.

It can help create a virtual store and prevent customers from looking for a physical store where their product is on display. This will help prospects experience and see the product like they are in a brick and mortar store.

It can help your content marketing strategy: It is said that B2B buyers are two-thirds into the buying journey before choosing a vendor. Marketers can use VR/AR to create dynamic and unique content to connect with buyers that uses brand storytelling.

Product training: B2B buyers rely on videos and online guides for knowledge about their new purchase. With VR, customers can get into a virtual classroom where they will get information about the ins and outs of the product.

Who Uses the Technology?

The technology is being used by companies like General Electric, Ikea, Uber, and BMW. However, this is not limited to huge corporations, but it is also being used by startups. GE Oil & Gas and GE Healthcare released a video about their technology that maintains deep-sea oil pipelines. It takes viewers to the ocean floor.

In 2017, Ikea launched an AR app called Ikea Place. You can tap on the catalog of 2000 products and hold your camera phone to place the furniture in your home digitally. In this way, Ikea is helping you visualize your living space.

Many retailers are using VR to bring products to life. Global ridesharing giant Uber is a household name. Yet, they used Augmented Reality at Zurich’s main train station to transport people into another world. They allowed people to pet their virtual tiger and pose with African elephants and the Eiffel Tower. Watch the video below.

With the amount of content being produced, marketers are looking to distinguish their digital marketing strategy with highly immersive content. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, though still new, it will continue to develop as effective tools for marketers. They are changing B2B sales and these technologies can work in conjunction with salespeople, not replace them.

If you would like to know more about adding VR/AR into your technology stack, discuss it with Verbinden today.