Augmented reality is becoming so much more than just a party trick. Now that the Pokémon Go phase is (mostly) behind us, marketers are starting to delve into practical ways to use AR to increase engagement and reach their goals. AR has countless applications across industries, but it’s the emerging technology’s uncanny ability to engage consumers that makes it so compelling to marketers. “AR can get you eyeballs,” writes Jes Scholz at Search Engine Journal. “But it’s even better at driving actions.”
It can be social
AR powers the Instagram and Snapchat filters millions of people use every day to transform photos into personal expressions.
It can be personal and helpful
It can help consumers try on different shades of makeup, check out how they will look in different styles of sunglasses or see how furniture will look in a specific room.
It can be entertaining (and even terrifying)
It has the potential to redefine the movie-going experience. “The Walking Dead” even used AR to stage zombie attacks on a city bus stop to promote the show.
An empowering technology
All consumers need for an AR experience is a smartphone and app. “It allows a new level of convenience, speed, and can leave a lasting brand impression. New (AR) apps come out every day and smartphone users swoop them up” writes Jason Hall at Forbes.
AR’s versatility and ease of use are helping marketers discover its value. “Early adopters have firmly established AR’s potential, not only as a marketing channel but as a brand differentiator,” Hall writes, citing predictions that AR will be a $117 billion industry by 2022.
AR and email: A perfect match
AR’s potential is just beginning to be realized. And that potential is only limited by marketers’ imaginations. There are so many exciting possibilities, in fact, that it can be daunting to decide the best way to deploy the technology. Scholz has these suggestions for newbies:
1. Drive customer engagement via gamification
“For AR to be impactful long term, it has to do more than place virtual characters into real environments,” she writes. “But we also learned (from Pokémon Go) that cute characters and local marketing are a powerful combination to lure people to specific locations.”
2. Go beyond branding to experiential marketing
While AR “experiences” can be fun and memorable, Scholz cautions that they must be created with strategic intent. “Will consumers remember the brand message or just the fun experience? That depends on if the experience ties directly into the brand’s value or message.”
3. Put products in your customer’s hands
“Virtual try-before-you-buy, to show products in the context of how they will actually be used, are ideal ground-level use cases for how marketers can use AR.”
Just be sure to avoid AR for the sake of AR. You always need to make sure it’s an element that adds meaning to the message you’re trying to get across instead of distracting from it.