5 reasons to consider Augmented Reality in your B2B marketing mix
Not so long-ago Augmented Reality (AR) felt like something so distant and far off in the future, that the majority of us didn’t give it another thought, let alone think about using it for marketing purposes.
But in a little over ten years since BMW triumphed as the first brand to use the then extremely expensive tech for commercial purposes, AR has become a marketers shiny new toy. In fact, we are all engaging it without always being aware of it. Mainstream consumer brands have found clever ways to introduce AR into our lives, from Pokemon Go, the hugely popular mobile game that led AR to the mainstream, to IKEA Place which lets you virtually place true-to-scale 3D models in your own space, to Nike’s AR app that measures your feet within 2mm of accuracy providing customers with an exact fit.
With the number of AR users projected to reach 3.5 billion by 2022 , it’s clear that AR is here to stay. Which is good news for marketers, given that more than a third of AR users believe that its potential lies in the marketing and advertising industry.
As B2B marketers, here are our five reasons why you should consider AR as part of your B2B marketing strategy:
1. It’s getting harder to surprise
Digital experience agency Acquia surveyed more than 6,500 customers around the world and discovered only 10% of them strongly agree that they’re receiving a ‘good experience’ from most brands. In comparison, 80% of them believe that technology can make their experience with brands more valuable. However, the usual marketing technology such as digital banner displays is often not enough, and it’s getting harder to impress buyers, even with something more sophisticated like QR codes.
AR offers a new solution to engage buyers with its improved way of sharing information in contextual and gamified ways. For example, the WebAR flyers and business cards with incorporated AR are gaining popularity due to being app-less – all customers need is their phone camera. An AR card or flyer like this can really help grab your customers’ attention, as well as creating a positive buzz around your brand and helping you stand out in the competition.
2. AR can bring to life the meaning of your words
If you’re working in a technical or jargon-heavy industry such as the industrial or safety sector, explaining your products in a way that’s engaging and easy to understand is often a real struggle. Using AR technology to show the functionality of the products in a real-life environment can be the perfect solution when there are too many or too few words to describe it, especially, if the target audience is multinational.
AR is already used by various manufacturers to visualise their product placement, for example this AR powered exhibition stand, or this GreekWire HoloMaps that saves hours of modelling time and can significantly ease up the communication of city architects. And although this AR application in the events from Alstom or Japan Airlines can look like a far reach for the majority of us, it is a glimpse of a relatively near future for those businesses who are keen to stand out during events and exhibitions.
3. AR comes to aid the post-purchase customer experience
According to research from Parks Associates, only 33% of those who encounter set-up problems of a new product would purchase a similar product from the same brand again. Even though companies spend lots of time producing user manuals and step-by-step set-up guides, no one is ever keen to open them and read the small print. AR provides product makers with an option to create easy-to-use user manuals as well as visual remote assistance that is already used by some companies to ensure high-quality onboarding and customer support. Check out this video for a quick demo of how AR manuals can be used in practice.
4. Training decks will eventually become a thing of the past
Although it’s hard to imagine that face-to-face training will ever cease fully, this past year has shown us that unforeseen events can create the need to find new and unique ways to train our teams. This example from the US Airforce shows how AR can be used to train highly specialised aircraft jet mechanics without the requirement for the trainer to be physically present, thus allowing them to learn independently and become proficient much faster.
There are multiple other fields such as Fire Safety who are also using AR to create an engaging and practical training experience with a gaming element that allows them to absorb the information on their own terms. Needless to say, these kinds of training packages attached to your product could help your solution stand-out in the competition and support its marketing.
5. AR can help nourish the existing relationships
AR innovation can be demanding when it comes to your time and investment, but used at the right moment it can leave a significant impact on how the organisation is seen by both partners and competitors. We like this example of AR powered technology that extends the regular outdoor GPS navigation indoors, creating a treat for the customers navigating through a busy shopping mall, as well as useful for the partners renting premises in the building who would benefit from one more channel to market their business. In this case AR is more than just a marketing application, it’s a tool to nurture the customer and stakeholder experience, which due to its unique proposition can result in competitive advantage.
Use AR to complement, not replace your usual marketing activities
Compared to wide and extremely varied audiences in B2C marketing, B2B advertising usually faces much smaller close-knit markets with higher competition. The marketing campaigns in B2B, therefore, need to be much more targeted and focused on impressing the key accounts but influential decision-makers. It would be great if all we required to close a sale would be an AR application, but no matter how powerful AR technology is, it works best in strategy with well-orchestrated marketing plans and professional sales approaches.