Virtual reality is capturing the attention of marketers, with many major brands, such as Audi, Coca-Cola, Mercedes and IKEA, testing it. The majority of customers, 71 percent, believe that brands that use virtual reality are more forward-thinking. Here are five factors to consider when incorporating VR into your content marketing strategy.
Spending on VR technology is expected to reach $143.3 billion by 2020. B2B marketers are already producing vast amounts of content, but how can they successfully integrate VR into their existing content marketing strategies?
Study the types of content that your audience is consuming
Do you already create lots of content? If so, you have a few clues about the types of content that your specific audience enjoys most. Some groups of customers prefer infographics, while others may favor case studies — and evaluating these patterns can help shape your VR strategy.
For example, let’s say that your customers prefer case studies. They enjoy reading stories about how customers are using content successfully, and the results of those successes, more than they like other types of content. In this situation, you can use a case study format as the basis for a VR video in which customers talk about their experiences using your product and the results of using it.
Understand that VR is grounded in experience, rather than content
VR provides an opportunity that most other types of content can’t, which is a 360-degree level of interactivity. This creates a powerful level of engagement as the customers learn more about your product. They are no longer reading about features and benefits, but instead they can feel what it would be like to use the product, which moves them one step closer to purchase.
For example, Lowe’s launched a VR tool that mirrors the ability to customize a home. The company wanted to take customers past imagining what a home improvement would look like and instead show them using VR.
They created the Holoroom, which is a home improvement design and visualization tool that allows homeowners to understand how a specific home improvement will impact their space. The company first introduced the tool a few years ago, and with this introduction they started studying how customers were using the tool. They learned which features customers liked or disliked, and made changes to the experience to maximize engagement and results.
All content is focused on creating delightful experiences for customers, but with VR, the content marketing strategy should be focused on taking a typical experience much deeper. What feelings do you want to evoke from your customers? What should customers see, hear and experience? Consider these factors when creating, designing and modifying your strategy for VR.
Design an emotional experience
Something happens when you tell a customer a story. The experience is no longer abstract, where you’re collecting pieces of data and putting them together, but instead — it feels personal. VR gives you an opportunity to tell stories that make an impact and instantly get more personal.
For example, Honor Everywhere is a 360-degree virtual reality tour for military veterans that allows them to virtually travel to view memorials. The company understood that their target market was interested in these types of experiences, and by virtually transporting them — showing them the places they want to see and telling them the stories they want to hear — the company was able to deliver an amazing experience to veterans.
Another example is Toms shoes, which is known for their shoe purchase-matching program. When you purchase a pair of shoes, the company gives a new pair to a child in need. Reading about this program is heartwarming, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the real impact. As a result, Toms wanted to help customers understand the real impact their purchases make on children across the world.
The company decided to leverage VR to share that story. Using VR, viewers are instantly taken to a remote village in Peru where they can witness the impact that the gift of shoes is making on children. You can see the children’s faces, their joy and the expressions of gratitude as they accept something that many take for granted — a pair of new shoes.
What is the emotional impact of your product? Maybe it saves time for an overstressed and overworked CEO. Maybe it streamlines tasks so that expensive miscommunications are avoided. Whatever the emotional impact, fuse that emotion into VR, because it’s a tremendous opportunity to communicate impact with your customers. As a result, you will connect with your audience on a new and much deeper level.
Provide a new type of product demonstration
There are many different ways to provide a product demonstration, and VR provides yet another resource. With this method, the user gets access to a totally new type of experience. For example, Mercedes decided to use VR when launching its newest SL model.
The viewers are driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, and as they drive they can hear the sounds of the wind and the car on the road, and feel totally emerged in the test-drive experience. They view this drive from many different perspectives, including in the passenger’s seat, above the vehicle and along the side, with a 360-degree experience.
Create your strategy based on what customers enjoy most about using your product. Are there any unexpected features or benefits? If so, this is the perfect way to communicate those unexpected benefits in a format that feels more approachable and interactive.
Consider a mobile experience with apps
Customers are already using dozens of apps, and for many, it’s one of their preferred methods of content consumption. Some brands are leveraging this preference to provide customers with VR content through the medium they already known and enjoy. For example, Volvo launched the XC90 Experience that allows viewers to experience a full virtual reality test drive on their phones.
The app allows people to immerse themselves in a breathtaking drive in the vehicle, which showcases the more intuitive features of the new vehicle design. This campaign was highly successful, with over 175,000 views on YouTube and 155 reviews on Google Play with an average of 3.6 stars.
Do you currently have a mobile app for customers? If so, are there ways you can integrate VR content into this app? Consider creating a small test campaign to better understand your customers’ reactions to receiving this type of content on the app platform.
A few last words
Many marketers are just beginning to test VR to better understand its impact on their customers — and revenue. As with any new tool, dipping your toes in the water may not feel comfortable because nobody wants to invest marketing dollars and not have it pay off.
Yet customers are demanding more engaging and interactive experiences, and VR is a powerful tool that helps deliver the experiences that customers crave most. Integrating VR into your content marketing strategy provides one more tool that can assist with connecting, interacting and engaging on an entirely new level.