Digital marketing offers a world of opportunity. But with more businesses overhauling their digital strategy and over 50% increasing their budgets, and plenty of reasons to do so; what digital tools can you take advantage of to differentiate yourself from the competition? Boost your brand awareness and engagement? Get eyes on your business?
Introducing: Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), TikTok, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Virtual Influencers. Let’s take a look.
VR: Experiential Game Changer
In a nutshell, VR is a technology allowing users to be immersed within an interactive 3-D computer-generated environment, designed to simulate real life experiences.
Why Should You Care?
Well overall, VR allows brands to offer customers an immersive digital experience, and bringing with it a wealth of potential to be moulded, shaped and manipulated to create a unique brand awareness promotional experience.
Okay, great. But what proof is there to back this up, that VR is a fantastic option?
- 75% of the world’s largest brands have implemented VR as part of their marketing strategy in some capacity.
- 53% of VR users believed VR has a very strong chance of going mainstream.
- 25% of those users also believe VR has “the strongest potential to improve marketing and advertising experiences.”
- The industry is growing with an 82 million units sold forecast by end of 2020.
- VR is recent, but not totally new to the scene. They have been business success stories from implementing VR as part of their marketing strategy, relatively speaking, early on. In 2015, Nike used VR to create a simulation promoting their new HyperVenom soccer boots featuring Neymar on a virtual soccer pitch.
VR is a creatively versatile experiential and marketing tool. Here’s some brands that have really taken advantage.
- TOMS Virtual Giving Trip – Taking customers on an intimate journey to see what their purchases contribute towards TOMS philanthropic purpose, appealing to the customer’s emotions.
- Volvo Reality – Another Google Cardboard creation also with an app to promote Volvo’s new car launch, offering an immersive test drive without the physical car nor actual test drive.
AR: Conveniently Shape Your World
AR, the fast-growing emerging cousin of VR is making its presence known in the world of digital marketing. Everyone remembers 2016 Pokémon Go launching AR into the mainstream, but its extending far beyond the videogame industry.
Why Should You Care?
According to Deloitte, 88% of mid-market companies are exploring and investing in AR as part of their marketing strategy in some capacity.
But what about smaller businesses? Well there’s good news. Responses from a survey taken in late 2019 (smaller firms and C-suite) indicates AR is accessible for all. It highlights a very optimistic outlook about the widespread use of AR in the not too distant future
What AR ultimately offers is versatility, allowing marketing to be interactive like never before. Giving businesses an opportunity to offer unique and enhanced customer experiences. AR gets more eyes on your brand with customers interacting with AR marketing/advertising for longer. So, let’s take a quick look at some ways you can take advantage of AR.
Try Before You Buy: The AR Shopping Experience
Consumers are always trying out products before they buy. We’ve all seen it before. The long wait for changing rooms, and time spent cycling through products until finally finding, the one.
But AR shopping solves this. Customers make more informed and better decisions. In fact, it’ll increase buyer decision-making confidence, and 61% of customers preferring businesses utilising AR.
Sounds pretty good, and we see it in……
L’Oreal’s ModiFace is a prime example. When sampling make-up, customers become judgmental, employees are applying/unapplying samples and there is increasing variety, so little time and tons of pressure to decide. ModiFace does away with that, offering no commitment or hassle, and L’Oreal’s seen a tripled conversion rate.
Underrated by businesses, AR offers an once-in-a-lifetime immersive brand experience providing a new way and customers experience a business’s offerings. Once-in-a-lifetime – sounds too good, but we see it in……
Manchester City FC’s Stadium Tour, a detailed 360o interactive 3-D holographic AR tour, with the opportunity to “sit and talk with manager Pep Guardiola” designed to give people a complete and unforgettable Man City experience. This would be well worth it since AR produces 40% higher conversion rates, more people will be spending more money on Man City, and it could even further raise the $2.688B team value.
TikTok: The Leader of the New School of (Influencer) Digital Marketing
Facebook may no longer rule the social media world. Whilst it still remains one of the most popular social media sites, it’s most popular with users aged 65+ (41%) according to Forbes, holds a sizeable older demographic population, and is falling out of favour with Gen Z.
Why Should You Care?
Well, TikTok is Gen Z with 800 million users globally, and now in 2020, they make up 40% of all customers. TikTok by design caters to the 8 second attention span generation. It’s interactive and a hit with today’s young online consumer. Oh, and not to mention Gen Z prefer ads with authenticity, relatable people – influencers and hates traditional advertising.
There’s a lot of untapped potential, so what are some ways to take advantage of this growing opportunity?
Designed to drive significant brand awareness and engagement. If done correctly and with good due diligence, it could even go viral, increasing your overall business, and platform growth. It’s a great way to connect with your consumers.
Chipotle’s #GuacDance challenge – encouraged people to create and show-off their avocado-themed dances in celebration of National Avocado Day. It went viral to say the least, with over 430 million views and 250,000 submissions in under one week, resulting in 68% Chipotle avocado sale spike recording its largest sales ever.
Despite Donald Trump’s plans, a brand new initiative (3/9/2020) aimed to help businesses and brands to use TikTok as a marketing/advertising platform. The program provides a whole suite of expert digital marketing companies categorised under 4 different categories (Campaign Management, Creative Development, Branded Effects, and Measurement). It is a program open to any and all brands (small or large) who wish to take advantage of TikTok, and curate well-planned social media marketing campaigns.
Finally, let’s briefly touch on influencer marketing. Almost 50% of Gen Z rely on influencer endorsements to make a purchasing decision. This again demonstrates this demographic’s preference for recommendations from authentic individuals.
Click here for more about TikTok and influencer marketing.
AI: Revolutionary Virtual Influencer
AI marketing is significant in its applications to today’s world of digital marketing. Customer data, data analytics and machine learning all play an increasingly important role in marketing today and in the future. But, we’re focusing on something different.
We’ll instead be exploring virtual influencers.
AI/Virtual/Robot influencers, whatever you call them, are basically influencers as we know them by definition, but they aren’t real; they don’t exist in a human sense; they are robots, yet they replicate all the qualities you would expect in a human influencer.
I know, sounds strange and slightly creepy right? So why should you even remotely consider something so outlandish?
The numbers show AI creations becoming a prominent part of companies marketing strategies.
- According to a report from HypeAuditor, engagement with virtual influencers are almost 3:1 compared to real influencers.
- There’s an audience for virtual influencers; growing at a rate of 70%.
- Finally, HypeAuditor created a top 30 list of virtual influencers. This implies that there are at a bare minimum, 30 robot influencers, and likely growing.
- Virtual influencers offer control and flexibility. Brands have more control over what and how their image/brand is presented. Mistakes can be erased and recreated quickly, easily, and as many times as need be, to bring out the authenticity and transparency influencer marketing depends upon, and maintain this sense over your brand. Arguably, this level of creative freedom and control, brands could really leverage this opportunity.
Here’s a small sample of some AI influencer success:
- Lil Miquela – Engagement rate equal to Selena Gomez and Beyonce, the first and most popular virtual influencer. “Her” partnerships include: the controversial Calvin Klein promotion, and ambassador to Samsung’s #TeamGalaxy.
- Imma – A niche influencer who has hit the ground running in “her” native Japan, having partnered with the likes of SK-II, and recently IKEA.
- Colonel Sanders – Yep. That’s right. KFC has modernised The Colonel’s look and given him the influencer lifestyle based on his fried chicken business. Weird, but successful? Yes. The Colonel was able to secure partnerships with Dr Pepper and Old Spice.
Get On Board Or Get Left Behind
It’s important to make a good choice, to keep your business moving forward and with the times.
VR/AR: Versatile, creative, limitless. Soon-to-be mainstream technology with businesses adopting it for a wide range of purposes. A sure fire way of getting customers through your door.
TikTok: Social media app with a growing popularity and catering to a very lucrative demographic. TikTok are helping and want brands to succeed. They have initiatives and programs that can help your business be a hit with the young people of today.
AI: Get associated with a virtual influencer. A growing audience with higher engagement, but still retaining a sense of authenticity in presentation with control over how you craft and present your promotional message. A unique attention grabber.
These are the marketing tools that will define your business’s future.