How Augmented Reality Can Heat Up Summer Marketing Campaigns

Posted on July 23, 2015

This post was originally featured on CMO.com.

Progressive chief marketing officers (CMOs) certainly understand the importance of leveraging digital and interactive solutions to enhance consumer engagement, especially since 78 percent of CMOs believe that innovative digital and mobile technologies will continue to change the marketing landscape. As consumers plug into mobile and internet devices even more during the summer months, leading marketers expect digital technology trends to continue soaring.

With interactive solutions constantly evolving, it’s no surprise that marketing leaders are constantly looking for new ways to use technology and stay abreast of the latest digital trends that consumers now crave. One interactive tool gaining a lot of popularity is augmented reality (AR), with more than 1.4 billion downloads of mobile AR applications expected by the end of this year alone. AR transforms static displays, point-of-purchase materials, print ads or marketing collateral into real-word environments. This technology delivers a highly immersive sight, sound and feel, deepening your customers’ experience on their smartphones through an interactive world of video animation, games, virtual offers and much more.

In fact, Aflac used AR as part of their Honors Club Interactive Brochure to better engage with the millennials on their sales force. Instead of loading the brochure with tons of content, AR was incorporated to transform key sections into an interactive online experience. AR enabled additional information like videos, presentations and website content to be served up to the sales force through a digital media platform. The interactive elements created a unique experience and increased engagement, resulting in 480 unique impressions that averaged 76 seconds of unique viewing and totaled to over 10 hours of mobile engagement.

With so many great ways to use AR to transform print materials and increase engagement, here are some key tips for your consideration to help heat up your summer marketing campaigns.

  1. Go mobile

Before launching an AR strategy, establish strong mobile platforms. According to Smart Insights’ 2015 State of Digital Marketing, 80 percent of consumers are choosing to access the Internet via a smartphone. Make sure that your marketing materials and website are compatible with mobile platforms, making it easy for customers to access and engage you, whether they’re relaxing on the beach or enjoying a picnic in the park. By having strong mobile platforms, AR campaigns can easily help you connect with consumers through mobile devices.

  1. Understand your audience

It’s important to understand how much your customers are already engaging in digital solutions. Take the time to gain insights about your target audience through data, demographics and behavioral patterns. Be aware that your customers’ habits may be one way during the fall and winter months but totally different during the summer as vacation and travel plans increase. Get to know your audience by asking questions such as: Are my customers frequent Internet users? How often are they engaged with digital videos? How many customers are connected to social media? Getting answers to these questions will help you develop a stronger AR strategy that best meets the needs and online digital habits of your consumer base.

  1. Conduct a communications audit

Since AR uses print materials as the platform for connecting users to interactive experiences, be sure to have the right print tools in place to support your strategy. Take the time to conduct a communications audit to determine what types of print materials and collateral you currently have in place like print ads, brochures, direct mail postcards, point-of-purchase collateral, etc. After collecting all of your print pieces, determine which tools have worked most effectively with customers and which ones have been least effective. Your successful tools can be further enhanced by AR to drive even higher success rates and stronger consumer engagement with your brand.

  1. Use strong visuals

Like any marketing tool, be sure your print materials have strong visuals and messaging that will attract consumers to your brand. Without a powerful image and/or an appealing message, you could miss out on the opportunity to engage customers through AR since print is the launching pad to your interactive experience. Remember, using the right visuals will initially get customers’ attention – and implementing the right AR tool will keep their attention longer as they engage in a deeper, richer experience with your brand.

  1. Choose the right interactive experience

Now that you have the marketing collateral in place, it’s time to select the best AR experience. With AR, you can give your customers a gaming experience, a fun animation, a digital music experience or an interactive video. Be sure to select the experience that will best highlight your products or services while also giving customers an entertaining platform to enjoy this summer – particularly since they may need something to distract them as they wait in lengthy airport lines or take a long road trip.

Remember, it’s an exciting time to incorporate best practices and innovative digital technologies as the marketing industry continues to evolve. By taking advantage of some of the latest solutions like AR, companies can be better equipped to deliver stronger interactive experiences and strategies that engage customers in more meaningful and impactful ways.