Whenever I discuss Augmented Reality (AR) to colleagues, bosses, or clients, I get the same facial expression – the raised eyebrow of confusion. It’s to be expected. I understand their concerns. QR codes can be used as a way to directly connect customers with online content, and these may be deemed to be appropriate for the task in hand. However, Augmented Reality provides more in your content arsenal, especially as we move towards more visual material.
From my experience, it would appear that marketers are unsure of the possible applications for the technology. This is the reason as to why I have written this post.
If you have an offline presence, whether this is either a physical shop or regular attendance at conferences/events, then Augmented Reality can be leveraged to help to make your Content Marketing really stand out.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality enables digital material to be superimposed on any physical object. The technology was developed in the 1960s by Morton Heilig, and experienced incremental improvements which involved head mounted displays hanging from ceilings.
This video from one Augmented Reality provider, demonstrates how this works:
Bridging The Offline And Online World
In the last few years, a number of Augmented Reality providers have been formed; creating easy-to-use applications which enable marketers to populate their literature with virtual content, and provide analytics to monitor their campaigns.
As Content Marketing has grown, it has become even more difficult to make yourself heard. Marketers are now admitting that they are specifically creating up to 70% more content compared to 12 months ago [Source: Content Marketing Institute].
While Social Media provides a good foundation for sharing quality material, due to the amount that is now being produced, it is becoming the equivalent of trying to have a conversation in a nightclub – especially Twitter!
In order to stand out, marketers are investing heavily in visual content such as videos, images and infographics. For 2015, it is estimated that £15.7 billion will be spent on digital and online media surpassing all other mediums [Source: The Guardian]. Yet, having a presence in the physical world (stores, exhibitions etc.) is still an important element for customers and business relations.
These provide an opportunity to get a ‘hands on’ approach with your product or service, and enable that face-to-face interaction with your consumers.
This is where a system such as Augmented Reality comes into play; as rather than your expensive digital content only being in the digital realm, you can bring it directly to the customer within a physical context. It also works brilliantly with mobile devices, and as 40% [Source: Business 2 Community] of consumers are now viewing content on their smartphones, it makes sense to give instant access to your digital media. This will enrich the user experience and make the interaction with your content much more memorable.
A great example of this would be the new edition of the Guinness World Records Book, which has incorporated the technology to show videos and give further information about the records held.
AR is not a replacement for your existing activities; it is an additional aspect which expands the audience for your Content Marketing. It’s an investment; don’t allow it to be lost in amongst the online noise.
Applying Augmented Reality To Your Content
The versatile nature of Augmented Reality means that the applications are only limited by your imagination. Once you know the strategic objectives that you are working towards, whether this be an increase in sales, promotion of a particular piece of Content Marketing, or to enhance your customers’ experience in using a product/ service; using this technology will benefit your marketing activities.
Below are three examples of how and when you can use Augmented Reality:
1. E-Commerce – Conference & Exhibition Banners
For most businesses, attending conferences and exhibitions will be the norm. Whilst they are great for brand awareness, they also provide opportunities for companies to network with other professionals within their industry, as well establish contact with potential customers.
When attending conferences, it is usual for businesses to have printed literature such as banners or even points of sale. These can come in different forms and can be focused on just the company name, or can be used to launch a new product and service.
AR can come into play in a number of ways. For example, if you are an Ecommerce site, you can directly link your banner to take the customer to the landing page of your product/service for purchase. This is particularly ideal for those who have limited resources in terms of exhibition and conference teams; and provides a unique way for your customers to quickly and efficiently make a purchase. Great if you wanted to make this an exclusive offer for the customers of that particular conference/event.
2. Demos & Reviews – Sales Literature (Brochures & Leaflets)
Sales literature can come in many forms, but the most common are brochures and leaflets. Although AR works with downloadable PDFs, some clients may prefer a hardcopy. Again, these can be product/service specific, or can include a range of options for prospective customers.
For Content Marketers, creating additional material and exposure through PR activities, such as news, reviews and testimonies, adds justification and brand awareness for their offerings. The resources that go into producing this quality content mean that the pieces should have longevity, and therefore should be brought to the attention of the user.
AR can be used to collate all press releases, articles and positive feedback on to one page for a user to browse at their convenience at the push of a virtual button. This will continue to drive traffic to these websites, benefiting your site in the longer term. Moreover, including videos which demonstrate or explain your product/service gives customers a greater perspective and understanding on what you’re selling.
3. Social and Email Sign-up – Business Cards
The humble business card is still something that many professionals like to use. It adds a personal touch to networking, something which generic requests on professional Social Media sites seem to be lacking.
However, this is the 21st Century, and as we continue to move forward in 2015, a simple 85 mm x 55 mm piece of cardboard is not going to appeal to all. This is where AR is able to evolve the business card to provide more than just a name, address, and telephone number.
As alluded to earlier, Social Media has become a big part of content promotion, and email newsletters are still a valid method for promoting your content to new and existing customers. Yet the difficulty comes when trying to build this audience.
AR enables you to create direct links to your Social Media profiles and sign-up pages for your newsletters. Prospective customers can see the type of content you promote by following your Twitter account, liking your Facebook page, connecting on LinkedIn or registering for your emails.
In addition, corporate videos or any poignant pieces of content can be displayed as a featured item. Organic sharing and exposure of your content relies on the strength of your email distribution list and Social Media signals – give yourself the opportunity to continually build these; and leverage your offline contacts, for your online content.
Have I Managed To Convince You Yet?
So there you have it, that’s my thoughts on why Augmented Reality should be part of your Content Marketing arsenal. But I’m interested in what you have to say.
Do you believe there is a place for Augmented Reality, or are you still unsure of how this technology can be integrated into your marketing strategy?
Let me know in the comments below.
Image Credit: Bigstock