Business-to-business (B2B) marketing requires the best strategies and relevancy to get ahead in the game. When marketing to another business, you need to know what they’re looking for and what will help them succeed as well. Through the ever-changing tech landscape, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are the keys to strategy and relevancy.
These two fields originally got their footings from gaming and entertainment. The success of VR gaming headsets and AR games like “Pokemon Go” allowed other industries to see the value and potential. Now, businesses of all kinds can apply these tactics when marketing their products or services to other enterprises.
By 2025, AR and VR will reach $70 billion and $21 billion in value, respectively. This growth is something marketers should act on immediately. It’s not hard to see this widespread adoption, though. Snapchat and Instagram filters use AR seamlessly, adding different effects over real-life pictures and videos. More and more brands are getting into VR gaming as well, like Facebook and Google.
Despite all this movement, there’s an even bigger factor at play that’s driving AR and VR into business marketing. The pandemic continues to change the way we live and work. From remote work to shopping online, these shifts, more often than not, have been digital.
Due to the pandemic, e-commerce sped ahead by five years and will only continue to grow. While it’s not entirely safe or practical for stores to have full-capacity shopping, digital resources have become the focus. AR and VR provide a new, engaging way for consumers to shop online. It’s an immersive experience that keeps them safe during this time.
For marketers, businesses will be looking for other brands that have adapted well. Those who have gone above and beyond e-commerce will stand out in the crowd.
It’s also important for B2B marketers to note that AR and VR services will work across industries. Entertainment and gaming are already in the altered-reality world, but fashion shows, events, real estate, and retail can all use mixed reality in new ways.
The Major Changes
With market growth, pandemic changes, and industry-wide adoption, it’s clear that AR and VR are the present and the future. For B2B marketing, adopting them into the strategy unlocks how they’ll be profitable, reliable, and innovative.
Try Before You Buy
For every industry, VR and AR have the ability to let customers and businesses try products or services before they buy them. Not only is this feature helpful for social distancing and staying at home, but it also helps reduce return rates.
In one study, customers were five times more likely to purchase an item after they were able to try it on virtually. They were also more likely to keep the product instead of sending it back. When customers know what they’re getting, businesses hold on to that profit instead of losing it in a return.
Ikea, Sephora, and L’Oreal have each expanded on their VR and AR engagement with customers. With Ikea, you can use AR to place furniture in your home virtually. You can then change the dimensions, rotate the object, and try out different styles.
Sephora and L’Oreal took similar routes, where you try out makeup and hair colors on their Virtual Artist and Makeup Genius apps.
Based on convenience alone, customers will engage with exciting features from their home as opposed to shopping in-person. They have more control over what they try on and test out before buying. Once brands offer these services, you can market them as selling points to other brands.
This kind of try-on feature applies to industries beyond retail, too. Real estate agents can offer virtual tours of properties and educators can use AR and VR to help teach their students. Companies want to work with others who market these innovative services.
As AR and VR evolve, they add more and more virtual experiences for consumers. A brand’s engagement tactic could be as simple as Coca-Cola bringing an AR polar bear into the real world through your smartphone camera. This style is smart because it causes a chain reaction once people see and use the filter, all while the brand’s name is front and center.
When you market to another company, you want to promote that your company can provide a virtual experience like no other. A viral dancing polar bear is just one of many ways to give consumers a unique way to engage.
It’s not a coincidence that AR and VR are good for one-of-a-kind experiences. They’re new, innovative, and create a strong emotional connection. In fact, according to a 2016 study, VR garnered 27% more emotional engagement than standard 2D digital experiences, like scrolling on a website.
If your company has these kinds of offerings, market them front and center during your B2B meetings and discussions. The meetings themselves can now use AR and VR, too. With the need to social distance and work from home, virtual events are now more common than ever.
When people attend a virtual meeting, 80% are there to learn, with networking being a close second reason. Use this opportunity to combine networking and education by showing how your AR and VR devices function. For instance, have them use the AR app your company has developed to try on different outfits.
Of course, if you want to immerse your potential partners in the virtual world, you can try VR meetings.
The “It” Factor
Modernization happens every day. Technology emerges with new ways to engage businesses and consumers, just as VR and AR have done for the past few years. However, integrating this kind of technology is essential since, ultimately, brands want to work with other companies that have that “it” factor.
For instance, if your brand combines technology, you’re likely to stand out more. AR and VR often use artificial intelligence (AI) to adapt to the surrounding environment. You can find creative ways to stand out even more, though.
A QR code is a square barcode that you scan to pull up some form of digital engagement. Restaurants are using these codes as menus instead of physical ones to reduce the spread of germs. An AR-based QR code lets users scan and pull up an augmented object of some kind, from a dancing buddy to art exhibitions.
The “it” factor that you market is what could ultimately facilitate a partnership. The fitness company Mirror uses a virtual trainer, right on the mirror’s display, to help people exercise. This innovation was so prominent that Lululemon funneled $500 million to purchase the startup.
A similar feat happened when Facebook purchased Oculus for $2 billion back in 2014. The AR and VR tech that these companies used help them market to massive corporations. The same can now happen for any brand that has an “it” factor, just as Mirror and Oculus did.
A Landscape of Opportunities
The pandemic has permanently changed the world. Through its effects, it has sped up the integration of tech across industries. On top of adding contactless payment methods and virtual events, almost 40% of brands are going to add virtual try-on options because of the pandemic.
To reach the full potential of adopting these AR and VR features and then marketing them, you may need some places to begin. Fortunately, there’s plenty of resources in the digital realm that will guide you through each step of the process.
Some websites assist you in creating your own AR QR app for your brand. You’ll be able to see the inner workings of AR, then bring your product or object to life. On the other hand, you can capture 360-degree images and videos to create your own VR landscape. This experience will be beneficial for any brand looking to market its space to other companies, like in real estate.
Other times, you’ll just need to download a program or software for VR. Educators can use a VR headset to immerse themselves in a classroom and surgeons can test out procedures before they have to perform for real. This kind of industry-specific VR is no doubt a selling point in B2B marketing.
Powertrak, Bundlar, Onsight, HoloBuilder, and Spark AR are some examples of software and systems in the AR realm that can get you started today. Once you have the tools to change your brand, you’ll be ready to up the company’s worth in your marketing strategy.
AR and VR are still evolving. Though they’re already making big changes for B2B marketing, they have vast potential to keep going, especially in certain industries.
Health care, on top of using VR for surgery practice, could also soon start to use AR and VR for patient treatment and progress. For exercise, mental stimulation, and overall engagement, patients get personalized care from these systems.
Another new area that’s gaining traction is test driving, or even test flying, vehicles. You can use VR to simulate buying a new car and experiencing it firsthand. Pilots in training are now using advanced flight simulators as well.
With this kind of progress, anything is possible for VR and AR. Soon, shopping may provide an entirely VR or AR option, like choosing items and paying, then getting them shipped, all without leaving the house.
As you adopt new practices into your business, you become a strong contender for partnerships, acquisitions, and purchases with other brands. The way to make these connections is through thoughtful, tech-centric marketing.
A New Marketing World
The world has changed drastically in the last year alone. Now that AR and VR are thriving, it’s time for all businesses to use them in their B2B marketing strategies. Through better customer experiences and prompt modernization, your brand stands out, making other companies more likely to do business with you.