To best understand the various digital realities, let’s identify some vocabulary of interest: augmented reality, virtual reality and X-reality. Augmented reality puts digital media (images, videos, etc) into a live view of the real world, often through a camera on a smartphone. Pokemon Go is an example of augmented reality: part real, part virtual.
Virtual reality is a complete immersion into a digital environment. Major League Baseball allows you to watch its games entirely in virtual reality. Simply insert a smartphone that has Google’s Daydream virtual reality app into a Daydream View headset and put on the headset to watch a real-time video or any Major League Baseball game played after 2015. You’ll need an active MLB.TV account.
X-reality is a catch-all phrase that can refer to augmented reality or virtual reality. As per Deloitte’s 2018 Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Report, there are over “800 million smartphones (that have) an operating system with dedicated augmented reality support.”
According to Statista, there are 171 million virtual reality users worldwide. Multiple businesses have begun using these digital realities to engage potential customers. Sunglasses company Ray-Ban offers a virtual modeling tool you can use to try on different pairs of sunglasses from the comfort of your home.
Benefit Cosmetics is creating an augmented reality feature called “Wow Brows” within its mobile app. App users can see what their eyebrows would look like if they got them shaped by the company.
Sephora leverages this digital “try before you buy” strategy with its augmented reality app called Sephora Virtual Artist. Using the app, customers can try on multiple shades and combinations of makeup via their device’s camera. In the first eight weeks after the app’s launch, Sephora Virtual Artist was used 45 million times by Sephora’s 1.6 million app users.
The Westchester County Business Journal reported that Toll Brothers uses virtual reality to sell Edge-On-Hudson condos. How can you use these various digital realities to grow your business? Here are three strategies:
Show before-and-after transformations in virtual reality
Regardless of your industry, you can show someone a before-and-after transformation from your products or services. For example, an orthodontist can show before-and-after pictures from Invisalign treatments. An interior designer can show properties prior to and after their collaboration. A medical aesthetician can show the glow of their customers before and after a facial. Provide a virtual reality headset to your potential client to showcase immersive, 3-D images or videos that demonstrate the quality of your business. Be sure to receive consent from your customers before using their before-and-after results.
Have a virtual reality design contest based on your logo
Encourage your customers to craft creative designs based on your logo. You can select a winner based on the most compelling virtual reality experience, randomly select a winner or surprise each entrant by giving everyone a prize. Mention that only relevant submissions will be accepted.
Invite the winners to come into your office to receive the prize in a winner announcement video on your social media accounts. Email the video to your subscribers to both celebrate the winner and encourage participation in future contests.
Have scavenger hunts in a specific part of your office or at your next event
Encourage your event attendees or customers to find the hidden messages you placed in various parts of your venue. You can call these messages clues, charms, puzzle pieces or another word that appeals to the collector mindset. This thought process is the core of games like Pokemon Go, represented by the motto “Gotta catch ’em all!” You can incentivize your audience by giving a services discount, complimentary product or another prize to the first person to find all the digital messages in the room.
Tech giants are fueling the rise of these digital realities. In 2017, Apple created ARKit, “the largest Augmented Reality platform in the world.” Google created ARCore, a software development kit making it easier for developers to create Augmented Reality apps. In 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus Rift, a virtual reality development company for two billion dollars.
At the 2017 Oculus Connect conference, Mark Zuckerberg announced, “We want to get a billion people in virtual reality.” He’s almost a fifth of the way there. With some of the world’s largest tech companies popularizing digital realities, make sure your business is ready to engage potential customers in every reality.
Michael Guberti is the founder of Michael Guberti’s Digital Marketing Services, a full-service digital marketing agency. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.