While brands might be keen to use AR, using it effectively may not come easily. Here are our top five tips for achieving AR success.
While AR is increasingly seen as an exciting opportunity to reach and engage new audiences, there’s a stumbling block: the current hardware barrier to entry. Apps using AR can be expensive to develop, so it’s easy to see how the tech can be one of the first elements to be dropped from a marketing plan.
That said, we believe AR should be viewed differently to other digital media. Why? Because it’s possible for AR to be inherently integrated into a product or service. So rather than being a marketing cost, AR can create business value by becoming a product feature itself, as well as a vehicle for conveying a brand narrative. AR can enhance a product’s functionality or ease of use, improve customer support and increase customer engagement.
This is why brands that are considering integrating AR into their approach need to do so by seeing it as more than a pure marketing venture. They need to design it from the start as a holistic product and consumer experience that creates consumer value and amplifies the brand. Sound a bit daunting? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Marketeers should start learning quickly and get ahead. Here are five top tips for those who are ready.
1. Make AR part of your test and learn approach
Rather than investing in a major AR project, start small. For example, you could implement AR features into your existing apps and use the technology to address existing consumer pain points, or extend the usefulness of your existing products through AR.
Your customers will love you for it. And if they don’t, fail quickly and adapt your approach. If you sink too much money into a massive AR project, you might not get a chance to try again.
2. Place the consumer at the centre of the AR experience
Rather than thinking of AR as a method of drawing consumers in, try to see it as something that adds value to their lives. Customers may respond well initially to an AR app based on a marketing gimmick, but it won’t be a long-lasting or valuable relationship. Instead focus on something that will add genuine value to the customer experience. AR should be something you design into your product from the start, rather than something added on as an afterthought.
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3. Think long-term and premium
When you bake AR into a product or experience – no matter what the overall plan is for doing so – you should try to get into a ‘luxury’ mindset to ensure a high quality experience. There’s no point in creating gimmicky one-off experiences that deliver little in terms of long-term consumer value. The 21st century consumer is looking for experiences that are authentic, entertaining and fun beyond the functional benefit of a product, so use AR to create exactly this.
4. Think across channels
When the time comes for brand activation, it should be integrated into your entire marketing channel mix to tell a cohesive and unified brand story. AR is a disruptive technology, but when it comes to marketing it still needs to work with and enhance your existing marketing efforts. That means it needs to play a distinctive, yet additive role in your total brand activation and product experience.
5. Measure, measure and measure some more
Apply as much rigour to tracking the effectiveness of AR as you would to any other digital channel. Although this is a developing field, you can still assign objectives to the AR experience in your overall channel mix and measure it against success criteria.
This can include simple engagement metrics, such as experience completion rates or return rates, but should also stretch into more empathetic and implicit measures such as satisfaction or enjoyment of the experience. Wherever it’s appropriate, you should relate it back directly to conversions to the online shopping cart.
Who should you turn to?
So, where’s the best place to start if you’re ready to step into AR? Your ad agency? Your digital agency? Your management consultant? It could be any one of these, but we think the best place to start is with your design agency. (Well we would, wouldn’t we… but we’re serious.)
For AR to succeed beyond being just a gimmicky marketing effort, you have to put the consumer at the heart of the experience. We’ve already said that for AR to add consumer value, it shouldn’t be an afterthought – instead it should be baked in early to your product and brand development processes.
This is where the power of designers comes in. They’re trained to get into your consumers’ shoes. They don’t just rely on market analysis to try and guess what people want – instead they use empathy to see things from the perspective of the consumer and visualise them beyond just numbers on a spreadsheet.
Designers create prototypes to let you and your consumers experience the finished article before it’s launched, getting feedback that in turn informs the development process. They’ll work closely together with engineers, software developers and collaborators to finely tune the experience. And finally, when introduced at the start of a project, designers will bake in iconicity and brand distinctiveness through-the-line, across every touchpoint and every experience.
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