Much emphasis is always placed on the sales process. Getting the leads in, getting the sale made, getting the deal signed; are all of paramount importance to any business. However, once you’ve made the sale, there is no greater ambassador for your product than a happy customer. Let’s face it; it shouldn’t be that hard, should it? After all, they want to be happy with their purchase. They don’t want to think they made a mistake and wasted their money. So, to convert ‘happy with’ to real customer loyalty is just about reinforcing the feeling they had when they made the decision to buy- and then taking it a stage further.
It’s All About Engagement
The Holy Grail for any kind of customer engagement is to get the customer to, well, engage; to engage with the product. You are trying to elicit an emotional reaction. When that happens, a sale becomes more likely. When that happens after a sale, then you’re well on the way to having gained that elusive customer loyalty.
Right back to when rich media, such as audio and video, first starting appearing on the internet, there have been any number of studies showing that the moving image was, by far and away, the most effective way of grabbing a viewer’s attention- and keeping it. The longer you can hold them; the tighter you’ll hold them.
VR Changing the Paradigm
Now with the advent of virtual reality, we are seeing the early days of a paradigm shift in how products and services are sold and marketed. Almost incredibly, it is a move away from the internet. The internet is the ultimate viewing experience, but no matter how intuitive it gets, no matter how many cookies or questionnaires or surveys you get involved with; it is a viewing experience. It’s all in 2D. The immersive experience of 360 degree virtual reality takes the whole thing to a completely different level. Now, this situation is not going to last for long, the web is already fighting back- evidence Microsoft’s mixed reality platform. But for now, the VR headset is king and the most exciting marketing innovation in a decade.
In a recent study by the mighty Nielsen, consumers were far more emotionally connected to VR content than they were to the standard 2D stuff. A 27% higher level of engagement than 2D and a 17% higher level of emotional engagement than a 360 degree video shown on a flat screen. Of course they were more engaged. 2D is old hat. By using new technology, you can give many consumers the chance to experience something that is completely new to them. Many will never have experienced virtual reality before. Well, the excitement of that new experience will also rub-off on how they view your product.
It’s All About Immersion
Of course, it’s not just the novelty of a new experience; it is also about the quality of the experience itself. In immersing a viewer in the virtual world, you are not just taking control of what he sees; you are taking control of how he feels about it. When you hand-out your branded Google Cardboard headset you are changing the way that your customers will view yourselves and your product. It’s not just ‘nice to have’ you are, quite literally, enhancing their lives. Your promo material will be re-visited, it will be shared. You are, in a small way, creating your own ‘viralability’.
"VR is ideal for luxury brands and products, where VR can help convey the experience of the product in an immersive way," said Adam Fingerman of ArcTouch.
But customer retention and building that hoped-for loyalty is relevant to any business. Of course, the message must be right and it needs to be informative. The very fact of the ‘gift’ of the VR headset will enhance the message and make it more likely to be viewed and understood, but virtual reality is the medium, not the content. It is not an end in and of itself.
As with anything, 99% of it is actually getting round to doing it. Well, the time to really get on the VR bandwagon is now. Make the most of its novelty value and give your customers something of real intrinsic value- they’ll thank you for it.