The Future is Now: The Possibilities of Augmented Reality Marketing Explained

Augmented reality marketing is predicted to grow to more than a $200Billion industry by 2022. In 2018 90% of the most successful brands invested in it as a strategy to grow their business.

In a world where likes, comments, and shares don’t count like they used to, AR marketing is an excellent way to give your customers the opportunity to interact with your brand like never before. By providing a personalized experience, it can increase your rates of clickthrough to purchase by a third.

The rise of SnapChat filters and Pokemon Go (reviving a brand whose popularity had died down many years ago) catapulted AR into mainstream use among social media users. People are excited by AR and there’s solid evidence that they will engage with it, share it and talk about it.

But with such a new technology on the market and no long history of tried-and-tested strategies to learn from, how can you avoid the pitfalls? How do you recognize a good AR campaign from a bad one?

In this post, we’ll explain how augmented reality marketing works and how you can use it to drive maximum engagement from your customers.

Why AR Matters Now

The digital marketing world is often at the mercy of what the biggest social media channels decide to do with their algorithms. Unfortunately for digital marketers, recent changes to Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm means it is now favoring person-to-person interaction rather than businesses and page posts.

This now makes it difficult to connect with the people who’ve engaged with your page, making likes, shares and comments (once the Holy Grail of online brand engagement) far less valuable for businesses.

If someone liked or followed your page in the past, you could be fairly sure they’d see your updates. Not anymore.

At the same time, brick and mortar stores are closing at a rate of 7,000 per year as online shopping takes over the market.

What does this all mean for you?

It means that you need to focus on creating content your customers will choose to share, and you need to make sure that there are inbuilt incentives for doing so.

In this climate, AR is an excellent persuasive tool to use. Some of its impacts include:

  • 72% of shoppers have bought something they wouldn’t have done otherwise because of AR
  • 61% of customers prefer brands that use AR
  • 68% of customers will spend more time with a product if AR marketing is used

The beauty of AR is that it doesn’t require any special software, browser extensions or equipment for your customer to use it. You just need to offer a great experience.

AR Campaigns: The Good And The Bad

What are some augmented reality examples that show the differences between good and bad AR?

The Good

A good AR campaign:

  • Does something useful for the customer or is inherently shareable
  • Is easy to use and puts the customer in control
  • Works (this is obvious, but developers have seen huge drops in usage as a result of glitches, so choose a good developer)

An example of very practical AR is from Home Depot, who launched an app that would allow customers to see what paint color looks like on their wall.

Similarly, Sephora uses AR so that customers can “try on” make-up virtually before they buy.

On the other end of the scale from these practical uses, one of the first brands to get in on the AR game and make it work was Pepsi. In 2014, they made one of YouTube’s most viewed advertising campaigns with their bus shelter AR screen that made it look like laser-shooting robots, asteroids and monsters were taking over the street.

The difference between this campaign and the Home Depot or Sephora ones is that this is a temporary novelty but extremely shareable.

These two types of campaigns achieve very different goals, but each has the potential to attract huge amounts of engagement.

The Bad

At the moment, augmented reality marketing is so new that people will pay attention even if your campaign isn’t very good. That’s both good and bad news for you. You’ll get attention, but will those customers stick around?

The worst types of AR capitalize on the visual spectacle only and forget everything else. An example of this would be “interactive object” AR (like this one from Starbucks), where a brand uses AR to “bring an image to life”.

If you watched the Starbucks video, you might be thinking “wow, that’s a lot of clicks to go through for that result”, and you’d be right.

Perhaps Starbucks can get away with it as a huge global brand, but research suggests it’s not a good strategy, especially for ads containing important product information.

A study by Purdue University tested an AR version of a car ad alongside a static print version and found that viewers remembered 23% less of the messaging from the AR version than the print version. Bad AR can be a distraction from what you want your customers to see.

So how do you use it properly?

Using AR To Enhance Your Paid Marketing Strategy

The best way to think of AR is as an enhancement, not the centerpiece, of your marketing strategy. Combining it with other methods is the best way to make it work.

Paid advertising channels are excellent ways to get a great ROI with good margins and minimal risk. Most people on social media will also be comfortable with AR and how it works from SnapChat and Instagram.

Because of this, paid social media marketing is a great way to launch your AR campaign.

Because AR is such an inherently measurable thing (every interaction with it is able to be recorded), you can integrate it with highly effective solutions like Pay Per Click (PPC) and retargeting for maximum ROI.

Michael Kors used targeted advertising in this way with a Facebook campaign that allowed customers to see how sunglasses would look on them before buying.

Enhancing Your Website With AR

How can you convince customers to keep coming back to your site?

Provide them with something that will always be useful, and streamline your UX to make it as accessible as possible.

Take the earlier example of Sephora. Their Virtual Artist landing page lets you use its functionality after only two clicks.

Here’s how you can set up your landing page for maximum conversion with AR:

  • Place a compelling CTA (like “try it now”, “see it now” etc.) front and center of your landing page, before the fold
  • Provide a preview of what the AR functionality does
  • Make sure your navigation is clear and concise

AR integration requires a little more back-end maintenance to keep things running smoothly, so make sure you optimize your site’s loading speed. One of the best ways to ensure this is to use premium web hosting like SiteGround, WP Engine or Media Template.

The Future Of Augmented Reality Marketing

AR is like make-up: it’s visually appealing, but best used to reinforce something that’s already good. It should complement your branding and customer engagement strategy, not replace it.

When used well and integrated with tried-and-tested methods like paid social media advertising and the best web development strategies, augmented reality marketing is an excellent way to get conversions.

Want to harness the power of this incredible marketing tool? Explore our AR experiential marketing campaign with the St. Louis Blues to see how we broke ground by creating the world’s first ever AR experience for a professional sports team – also featured in a Facebook Case Study!  Book a meeting with us now!