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How brands should meet customers in their new (virtual) reality

30-second summary:

  • Virtual experiences like test drives, makeup tutorials, and open days have become essential as shoppers move their business online.
  • The same digital assets for virtual trials and trials, once created, can be used in marketing ads, social media, personalized sales demos, and even product redesigns.
  • Elly Uz, Content Marketing Manager at the interactive 3D streaming platform PureWeb, shares three steps for marketing in the new landscape.

Desperate times require digital measures. First a quick summary: the old world was going straight on, an annoying virus decided to visit every corner of the world, the planet was shut down and a new world was born. Almost everything has changed along the way. Years of incremental changes so small that they are difficult to realize before a sudden jolt reveals a new reality. Before the pandemic, virtual experiences like test drives, makeup tutorials, and open days were considered cute and cool (but far from important). The ability to try and test products is critical today.

And, as always, marketing has to develop alongside society. Future-oriented brands are already going through digital transformations in order to offer online buyers (i.e. everyone) the best possible virtual interactions.

The next best

An ecommerce website is basically like a digital brochure. You scroll through a menu of articles and pictures. If you only go for one pack of toilet paper, that’s good enough – not so much for clothes, glasses, vehicles, homes, and other experimental items.

The truth is, the computer generated images you see in movies and the dynamic interactivity of video games can both be used on your website. If you are able to customize and test a car online (you are) or navigate a digital version of a store where you capture and interact with photorealistic objects in 3D (you can) then suddenly a website, which does not work any other way from a tri-fold paper brochure appears primitive.

Retailers and e-commerce companies today can use 3D content creators to create digital versions of their products that go way beyond a photo. The digital assets can be integrated into a site where buyers can adjust, rotate, display textures and experience movement. Retailers who use 3D technology and augmented reality have 90% higher customer conversion rates than those who don’t.

For those who feel compelled to touch before buying, virtual test runs and try-ons are the next best thing. The same digital assets, once created, can be used in marketing ads, social media, personalized sales demos, and even product redesigns.

To create more compelling marketing for brands that leverage these new technologies, do the following as soon as you can:

1. Make your web experience the source of the customer engagement you’ve been looking for on social networks

By creating scenarios where buyers can interact with products from home, you provide them with an extremely valuable experience. Rather than disrupting the marketing where your brand appears on a screen to compete for their attention, buyers come to you. They spend their time adjusting a pair of sneakers or a car. They send it to their family for opinion or post it on social media and invite their friends to create their own. This is the way to connect with consumers in a pandemic when they walk into your digital space instead of your store.

Key players are bringing AR capabilities to the masses – from Pinterest and YouTube to makeup trials for Shopify, which can be used to add interactive content to websites and Instagram to enable augmented reality ads.

2. Tap readily available resources to create compelling virtual content

It’s the perfect time to stop and re-imagine what your online sales and marketing could be like in this internet-first era. Sure, creating 3D content took a lot of time, expertise, and careful work. Thanks to game engines like Unreal and Unity, which take care of physics, movement, and lighting, and essentially create the framework for 3D, these creations take days instead of months.

While you still need the expertise of the content creators, you don’t need a huge budget or endless months on the catwalk. The clothing brand Tommy Hilfiger is moving to a fully digital design by 2022. Parent company PVH built an incubator to train employees and eventually bring other brands outside of their ecosystem on board. You likely already have the resources and may not realize them.

3. Don’t limit an interactive campaign to your website

Once your interactive 3D digital experience is created, the sky is the limit for campaigns. You can create so many customer touchpoints and use digital assets over and over again. Brands can use the beautiful custom watch Jacob created to market them or create an email campaign using the clothes Kylie viewed in 360 degrees while visiting the virtual store.

On Instagram, sunglasses manufacturer Bollé lets users try out their phantom model virtually to see how the different lens styles work. In the past, brands and marketers have been limited to a pool of buyers in the immediate area. Now a brand can be truly international.

It certainly seemed like a frivolous luxury to tour a digital apartment or test a truck through a computer simulation – until it became the only option. Now that we are all in this new reality, it is only fitting to evolve over time.

Elly Uz is Content Marketing Manager at PureWeb, an interactive 3D streaming platform based in North America.

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