What does VR mean for your average business with a website to manage, products to promote and marketing campaigns to run?
Most of us when we think of VR could be tempted to sideline this as ‘just a fad for gamers’. Yes, it may be true that the use of VR headsets is not yet widespread, however the rise of VR still has ramifications for businesses.
Virtual Reality is currently a niche market that one day may well become a powerful tool for businesses looking to create more immersive experiences for consumers. However, what does VR mean for us right now?
The rise of VR points to a shift in our consumers’ expectations of the content they are presented with. It is these expectations that we can address. With or without a VR headset or 360’ YouTube strategy, we can still respond to the reality of VR through our website and marketing efforts when considering how to approach website CRO, SEO and PPC.
1) How should a website respond to the increase in VR?
The big attraction of virtual reality is the ability to experience places and interact with your surroundings without actually travelling anywhere. At base this indicates that VR emphasises the need for a website to be experiential and solidifies the value in interacting with your web visitors.
This interaction can be fostered in many ways; from chatbot’s to social sharing and reviews. Here are a few commonly used techniques:
- Social Sharing
- Intereactive Content
- Reviews/ Comments
- Live Chat
- ChatBots (see https://newcom.church)
2) How does an e-commerce store respond to the rise in VR?
If you’re selling online, VR emphasises the need for a website to show your product. By show, I mean really show.
Braveen Kumar from Shopify summarised this as “seeing items in real size and form when shopping online”.
There are few ways you can convey the real size and form:
Dimensions / Sizing
One appeal of VR showrooms is the way in which it helps customers gauge the size and fit of an item by using virtual changing rooms or 360º tours .
Sounds basic, but it’s unbelievable how many online stores we see with incomplete product descriptions. How can we expect consumers to appreciate our product and part with money without providing sufficient information? This is where VR scores as it enables customers to get a better idea of how a product looks in reality.
Use of video
VR also achieves something very personal as it gives consumers a tangible experience of enjoying the product or service being offered.
Video content can have a similar effect, but by proxy consumers can see themselves in others using the products they might want to own.
VR offers a whole new way for brands to tell stories around their products.
One of our clients Keith Brymer Jones, uses video very effectively to build their brand engagement using humour. This has proved highly successful and enabled the company to increase its market reach and drive traffic to their website.
The word of caution
Many predict the use of VR in e-commerce to help engage with customers, however before you re-budget for VR developments it is important to note that current applications of VR technology have been unsuccessful where the content or interface is not good. There are still a number of issues to be resolved with the technology and therefore the full benefits of VR for e-commerce have not yet been realised, but this is definitely an area to watch.
3) How does VR impact your PPC approach?
As with any consumer channel, VR will certainly have its own means of being monetised. However, as businesses that currently run paid advertising campaigns, is there anything in the rise of VR that we can learn for our PPC approach?
Simply put, VR helps those trying to engage with their audience on a more meaningful level. When structuring your paid advertising, there are two questions you can ask to help build your engagement, and in turn improve the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns.
How well do you understand your brand and audience?
Any virtual reality experience is only as good as the reality of whether the experience matched what your consumers wanted. VR makes use of artificial intelligence to tailor experiences for consumers. Believe it or not, you actually have far more intelligence around your brand and consumers than you may realise. You can harness these insights to help improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.
So ask yourself what is it about your brand that makes you unique? Who is your target customer? What do you know about their likes/dislikes?
When your advertising enables you to match your brand’s purpose to consumers with this need, you are harvesting the benefits of VR and augmented reality.
Are you making the most of location-specific ads?
More than ever, relevance is determined by where a consumer is, so companies need to improve their location-based experiences. The tailored nature of any VR experience makes your physical location seem incidental (we’ve all heard stories of people falling over their furniture whilst gaming). The same should be true for your customer’s experience of your advertising. Using tailored location specific ads, your customers can experience your brand in a way that is relevant to their surroundings.
“All about a UX-centred customer journey”
“Brands have to fight the temptation to view VR as a shiny new plaything,” says Jason Kingsley, co-founder of the developers of PlayStation VR. “VR is about a ‘UX centered customer journey”. This means that despite the actual VR implements (headsets, showrooms, 360’ modelling etc.) not being fully functional, we can still seek to move towards a user-centred approach to our website content and PPC marketing.
The rise in VR will predominantly change our consumer’s expectations of browsing and buying, and as PPC and SEO specialists we need to ensure we are constantly responding accordingly.