Marketing and promotion are always changing. It’s inherent to the process. In our ever-evolving business landscape, marketing strategies must keep up with the fluid and dynamic needs of rapidly changing consumer preferences. Augmented reality (AR) is being used in new ways to take traditional print marketing methods and turn them into interactive, immersive, and unforgettable experiences that keep users engaged. Printed direct mail campaigns that incorporate AR have seen response rates jumping from 2-3% to 35%. Today, most consumers are not intrigued by an ordinary postcard that feels impersonal and generic but when AR is tied to the printed media, interest soars.
According to TechTarget, “Augmented Reality (AR) is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real-time ...AR users experience a real-world environment with generated perceptual information overlaid on top of it.” With AR, we can explore new ways to spread brand awareness and engage customers in ways heretofore unimagined. AR allows users to overlay virtual interfaces and experiences onto the world we live in, merging the real world with accessible technology that many of us already own and use frequently. “AR delivers visual elements, sound and other sensory information to the user through a device like a smartphone or glasses,” elaborated TechTarget.
A large part of what makes AR such a valuable marketing tool is its accessibility. The vast majority of us own and rely on a smartphone for much of our daily activity, and the rapid evolution of mobile technology has given us access to increasingly more sophisticated portable computing, camera features, and Internet connectivity. Considering that 83.37% of the world’s population owns a smartphone, opportunities abound for businesses to bring AR into their marketing strategies and take what would have otherwise been a low-performing print campaign to the next level with AR.
In its early stages, AR saw implementations through the likes of filters and lenses on Snapchat, simple graphical overlays used to enhance user-generated images. Further developments in the field led to experiences such as Pokémon GO, encouraging an explosive burst of users to explore their neighborhoods on foot in pursuit of fantastical creatures in familiar environments. From these two examples alone, we can see how AR has gone from surface-level curiosities to immersive, interactive experiences for users, bridging the gap between realms by transforming how we interact with brands and their content. It’s exciting to note that even the United States Postal Service will be offering special discounts through an AR campaign that will have customers scanning QR codes on its signature blue mailboxes around the country leading into the holiday season.
AR is already having a dramatic impact on how we shop and make decisions. Everyone has had the experience of purchasing something through an online vendor, only for it to show up and be not quite right – a garment may not look or fit as advertised, or a piece of furniture or décor may not suit a space as originally anticipated. AR tools dramatically increase customer satisfaction by increasing the perceived tangibility of products before they have even been added to the cart. Manipulable 3D models transcend the limitations of static images by allowing customers to preview and place their purchases in real space, making them more informed on how they spend their money. In this way, AR is already proving itself as a tool that makes for clearer brand communication and customer satisfaction, so it’s a win-win situation for all parties.
AR is even impacting long-running institutions that we may otherwise consider resistant to change. The United States Postal Service is incorporating AR elements into new types of postage and incentivizing its usage through discounts, further ushering in the technology while passing savings on to customers. This further serves to demonstrate that new technological developments, instead of pushing established media into obsolescence, can bring our existing services into the modern age while helping to prop up and reinforce the analog communications we still rely on to this day. A lot can be accomplished with a QR code or other scannable iconography, showing that this technology has its place in our world as a replacement for older methods, or working alongside them to create something more effective.
All these developments sound thrilling, but how effective it can be is a moot point without the ability to feel its tangible effects. Like with most technological offerings, though, there are concrete figures to be tracked that point directly to the impact of AR’s marketing potential. As is the case with various social media platforms, impressions can be logged. Interactions, opens/scans, captures, shares, unique users, dwell time, and conversions into actual purchases are all readily available and will tell you exactly what sort of impact your AR implementation is having on your business. Restaurants, car companies, and even large media corporations are actively implementing AR experiences into their marketing and figuring the above metrics into their future strategies. And the data is promising: MG Motor has recorded 4,600 engaged hours in reaction to their 3D displays, ViacomCBS saw a 29% sales lift from a recent AR campaign, and scannable menus are already a staple of our current landscape. And as we know, knowledge is power. These tools are already changing how we do business and providing numbers for further improvements.
AR is the way things look to be going, and it’s not going away any time soon. In our increasingly digital landscape, we must arm ourselves with all the tools and metrics available to us. AR affords businesses the unique opportunity to add tangibility to the physical while expanding upon the physical with digital experiences. It’s an ever-growing marketing opportunity and a genuinely exciting resource that businesses across all industries should be taking advantage of. Especially when considering the pace at which technology evolves and is implemented, one would be at great risk of being left behind by not immediately considering ways in which AR can extend its reach.
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Posted in Digital | Posted on 08/10/2022