When it comes to VR (Virtual Reality), you can create any number of unbelievable customer experiences – regardless of your audience’s physical location. You can capture people in an immersive world, while delivering a powerful message that turns a lead into real business.
Unlike 2-D imagery, VR allows people to experience a product or service without actually having to be there. They can trawl the sales racks at their favourite department stores, run on a Thai island beach or even walk through a house they might like to buy – all from their desk or garden chair.
As you can see from the following long – and nowhere near exhaustive – list, VR can be used for just about any scenario imaginable. So it’s not so much a matter of what you can do, but rather, how you do it.
- Online shopping
- Financial services
- Space travel
- Fine arts
- Crime scene investigation
- Cage fights
From a marketer’s standpoint, VR is the gift we’ve been waiting for. Given how supremely difficult it is to get and keep the average human’s attention these days, VR could well be the silver bullet we’ve been waiting for. Think about it, give somebody a pair of branded VR goggles and an app embedded with some truly remarkable content, and your potential customer has zero distractions. That’s almost unheard of in this day and age.
Provided you’ve done your job and delivered on that truly remarkable content, your audience will have no reason not to engage your message to the end. And because VR is an immersive medium (you’re a part of the experience as opposed to just watching), there’s every chance they’ll stick around until the credits roll even if the content isn’t ‘out the ballpark’ incredible.
Aside from the obvious ‘100% attention’ benefit, which, let’s face it, is reason enough to dabble in this medium, VR offers many other advantages for marketers looking to peddle their wares in a way that converts leads into paying customers.
Nothing beats the real thing, but done right, VR can come a close second. And that’s ultimately what you’re after: it’s got to feel real, even if it isn’t. It’s worth noting, however, that the experience must be worth having in the first place.
A virtual tour of your new office, for example, could feel very real, but still be a yawn. Now let’s say you’re a car dealership. In this instance giving your customers the chance to wander through your showroom would not only be amazing, it would also be really useful.
VR is a costly exercise, so make sure you have a story worth telling (i.e. one that will deliver a healthy ROI) before you go ahead and blow a year’s marketing budget on a single production.
Charity Water raised more than $2.4 million at one benefit alone by incorporating VR into their fundraising campaign. Attendees at the benefit were invited to experience a short VR film about a 13-year-old girl struggling to collect clean water for her family.
Toms Shoes, best known for their ‘sell a pair, give a pair’ policy, has installed a VR chair in their flagship store in Venice, California. Once ensconced, customers can go on a virtual giving trip to see for themselves how their purchases are positively impacting the lives of others.
For NGOs and socially minded businesses like Toms, the benefit of VR is obvious. By experiencing another’s hardship, the viewer is more likely to feel empathy and therefore be more inclined to support the cause. The uses of VR extend beyond the altruistic though.
Consider the benefits for parents whose children are in the process of choosing a college. Once a time-consuming and expensive exercise, visiting college campuses can now be done from the comfort of your own home.
Anyone who’s ever dipped a toe in the housing market will know what a headache-inducing process it can be. Imagine how happy your prospective buyer would be if they could go house hunting from bed on a Sunday morning. And if they’re buying off plan, imagine providing them with the means to see their house before it was actually built.
From a marketing standpoint, the potential of VR is hard to miss. With location no longer posing the obstacle it once did, your audience has suddenly grown significantly. Likewise, the potential for new business has skyrocketed as well.
A VR project is way more time-consuming than your average marketing endeavor and yes, you’ll have to dig a little deeper into your pockets. However, the payoff is potentially huge. Just look at Charity Water’s results.