Virtual Reality is the future. I strongly believe that so when I was asked if I wanted to work on social VR app with other VR enthusiasts I didn’t hesitate for a moment.
Not only it would mean exciting activities on daily basis but also new challenges in marketing for me. We have just started Beta phase so I needed to reach out to Beta testers somehow.
Although last two years saw VR coming out of sheds and predictions on growth are outstanding, still reaching out to users is limited.
Our app is called Basement VR (Ready Player One readers will surely notice the connection).
We’ve decided to fully focus on HTC Vive first due to the nature of the app. Also HTC Vive is right now the most popular VR headset so it was quite obvious choice.
But the most popular is far from mainstream in this case, the price tag for room-scale unthethered pro VR is 2,000$.
So the amount of users is still quite small, according to SteamSpy there are around 150k owners of TiltBrush app which came in bundle with HTC Vive set.
How are we doing it?
So how to find people who are VR enthusiasts and will help us build something awesome?
Reddit thread is one of the steps of course, but we were so excited that we wanted to gather feedback before having to put huge amount of time and effort into building something that users didn’t want.
We wanted to find out if we were on the right track.
So excited to start
So we turned to Steam community. And the number of users that seemed to be a problem at the beginning, became our great ally.
People who have VR headsets are so excited about Virtual Reality that they sincerely want to contribute. After all there still is limited content out there. Our VR Creators group is growing.
But even though Steam is great for gathering all the players together into one huge community, it’s not great with the communication efficiency, e.g. you cannot send direct messages to non-friends, friends number is limited, chat is not keeping conversations history.
You know, the things that keep people from spamming etc. All those things are needed and I’m not complaining. After all, what I wanted was to contact complete strangers and ask them for help, offering very early access to an app and opportunity to contribute in return.
I was worried that might be considered spamming by some users and what the response would be, but I made quick conscience examination and decided to give it a go.
Well, I definitely knew it wasn’t going to be considered that bad ;)
You cannot imagine my surprise when I started sending messages to users on friend’s list and our group asking if they were interested in becoming Beta testers for new VR app.
Let me just say that none of them considered it spamming and few of them actually said sorry for not being able to participate but wished best of luck because they support everything connected with the growth of VR.
Nice, isn’t it? That’s why I believed in bright future of VR even more than before.
We are a already late with that, Marty McFly saw this in 2015, right? VR and AR needs to catch up!
Another step: using AltspaceVR to find Beta testers
But after a while finding new people was becoming difficult, we were looking for those that spent some time on writing helpful reviews about apps that we considered useful, social VR mostly.
But the amount of users that you can find there is limited and the level of commitment those people have is so big that it turned out we were finding the same people over and over.
Then we’ve decided to go one step forward. Why won’t we approach someone in VR? Just to chat, ask if they would like to become a Beta testers.
-You are? Awesome to hear that, we will send you file and after spending some time in the app you can suggest any feature requests or report bugs on our public Beta Trello board.
-No? No worries, enjoy your time in VR fellow traveller.
And it worked. We were trying out Rec Room but people there simply enjoy playing paintball too much to have time for a chat.
So we’ve moved to AltspaceVR and that was like hitting a jackpot. Due to the problems with number of users they are facing, a lot of people are hanging around in the lobby, eager to chat with somebody while waiting to enter some event.
Talk to people, it’s working!
4 reasons why VR Marketing is a recipe for success
There are four main reasons why VR will bring marketing to another level. It will do that by solving problems with awareness and engagement marketers face all around the world now. And this is why:
People wearing headsets will be completely immersed, they will be very attentive to the content. There won’t be distractions.
Experience in VR is much more intense when compared to traditional media. Strong emotions tend to change the behaviour.
Experience in VR is much more likely to be remembered for a very long time. Marketing is all about finding way to audience memory and staying there for as long time as it is possible.
As I mentioned before, people are very enthusiastic in VR. Public interest is rising. Early adopters can benefit from user’s high engagement.
How we did it?
There aren’t strict rules of how to do marketing in VR yet. But experience in finding Beta users in AltspaceVR resulted in couple of observations:
It’s kind of obvious, isn’t it? People can hear your voice so they will notice if you are sincere. Confidence and sincerity goes a long way.
We didn’t just put headset on, entered AltspaceVR and approached everyone shouting about our Beta. We spent some time talking to other users, I would say avatar to avatar.
Besides pure pleasure of having a nice talk with fellow VR enthusiasts we got to know them a little bit more. After a while we knew exactly if they will be perfect Beta tester of our app.
On the other hand they knew we were serious and weren’t trying to force them into anything.
I mentioned before people wandering in the lobby waiting for enough people to show up to create rooms where they can play. This was good opportunity to start a chat.
But I noticed that spending some time with them playing together and actually having fun created some kind of bond.
People that I shared awesome card game were much more enthusiastic towards visiting our website and becoming Beta tester.
And a little advice: encourage people to enlist to your superior Beta testers army right away after you’ve introduced them to the idea.
Do that to avoid risk of them forgetting the website address or getting distracted by another game starting.
New reality and challenges for marketing — VR
User’s level of engagement and enthusiasm made us think even harder about new opportunities that VR brings.
It is also proof that as soon as headsets will become more affordable, amount of users that would like to become a part of Social VR will be huge.
And let’s hope that engagement and enthusiasm I described here won’t be spoiled by putting advertisments in VR everywhere by those who can afford it. Good marketing will always beat bad one in the long run.