Hey, Siri, technology continues to change, right Alexa? OK, Google, it seems we’ve come to expect it even.
The way we communicate is a significant part of the overall change that technology is driving. From the way we interact with our computing hardware to the way we interact with each other, communications is a focal point of the current technological revolution. The next phase of that change is the concept of Mixed Reality—the blending of immersive experiences such as virtual reality or 360-degree video with physical experiences in the home, at a hotel or buying a car.
And its impact is soon coming to how we can tell our stories.
If you don’t believe me, Google it and you’ll see the tremendous projected growth and investment from the biggest tech companies in the world (Apple, Google, Facebook), high adoption rates, engagement statistics, etc. By merging real and virtual worlds to create a place where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time, mixed reality is poised to stay.
Yet, I’m not here to convince you if you’re not already convinced, but rather give insights on how you can best leverage it to rise above the noise and engage on a deeper level with your targeted audience, if you’re ready to mix it up.
Here’s how to kick start a mixed reality communications program:
Set clear goals for mixed reality
This is the place to start. I’ve talked with lots of marketing professionals interested in leveraging this type of approach and typically ask, “What does success look like?” Thankfully, most have the answer, but sadly when asked “How will you be able to measure that success?” it’s a lot fuzzier. Remember, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” said Peter Drucker, the inventor of modern business management. To develop the content and technology needed for mixed reality, you need to keep clear goals in mind. Traditional KPIs such as app downloads, landing page hits and tracking product conversion rates through existing web analytics can help shape the content you create. Set your success for the program and work to exceed those expectations.
Create a content strategy
Mixed-reality marketing is both a strategy and a tactic. It requires the ability to integrate multiple types of content along with a refinement of marketing goals and program. As a content type, virtual reality requires development resources and the ability to support the back-end technology that powers the content displayed on the headset. Mixed-reality content is also not the only content that people will get exposed to during your marketing campaign. Ensure the entire campaign is aligned, scheduled properly and optimized for specific channels. Caution: When optimizing, don’t just try to fit content to the medium. Building the right content strategy with your audience top-of-mind means taking into full consideration how the medium can be leveraged to best communicate your story.
Think beyond the headset
Mixed reality means voice, visual search, virtual reality, immersive experiences and more. For example, if you are a CPG company, you can use packaging or retail displays to create tactile experiences or ones that consumers can take away. By building a marketing program that incorporates different mediums and connects with consumers on their terms, you can deliver remarkable experiences that capture their attention and directly impacts their perception of a product beyond the product itself. A great example of going beyond the headset is what a winery named 19 Crimes did in leveraging Augmented Reality toward its target audience. By making its wine bottles come to life to tell the story about British prisoners who were sent to Australia in the 18th century due to violating one of the infamous ’19 crimes’ of the time. As a result of building the story in the packaging, the brand grew 60% in volume sales and 70% in value in one-year!
Optimize for new types of search
A rising trend to give special consideration to is Smart Speakers. According to a new report by eMarketer, annual growth for Smart Speakers is faster than any product since the smartphone at a rate of 47.9% As Smart Speakers continue to grow in popularity and visual search becomes more pervasive, brands need to ensure they’re optimized for those new search technologies. Our brains are conditioned to identify an image nearly instantly. Being able to process an image and have it show brands or products included is a new feature that search engines now include. Bing introduced visual search in late 2017 and other social networks such as Pinterest support it also. Taking it one step further, Google Lens is working to make smartphones search via your camera. More than just snapping a picture and searching, Google Lens will allow you to search in real-time, which can make it interesting for PR.
Image: Smart Speaker Growth from eMarketer
Do you feel a bit overwhelmed and still feel challenged to make this part of your communication mix? If so, my advice is, “Don’t fret, get your feet wet.” People today are tired of lackluster experiences. They are yearning for communication that is more relevant, personal and flat out amazing! Mixed Reality can offer that and more if done right. So, please try it.
And remember that although technology will continue to change, the fundamentals of human-to-human connection and communication will not. People are people. It’s our insights from our own human experience that should be the guide in choosing the medium and message that will best meet our audiences where they are.