By integrating digital images with a view of the real world, augmented reality (AR) changes users’ experience in real time. Discover some of the benefits of this growing technology, and find out how you can incorporate AR into your marketing strategy.

How Augmented Reality Works

Image via Flickr by LGEPR

AR enhances your experience of an environment by inserting virtual objects into your reality. In essence, AR converts the real-world space around you into a digital interface. In doing so, AR adds greater functionality to your environment and more opportunities for you to interact with the world around you.

Users typically experience AR in one of three ways. With AR viewers, users can see three-dimensional models in their real-time space. AR browsers make use of your smart device’s camera technology to provide contextual information related to your environment. AR gaming combines your surroundings with digital game components to create an immersive experience.

When it was still considered the technology of the future, AR required clunky equipment that didn’t create a seamless user experience. Today, however, users can engage with AR through their smartphones and tablets, making this technology a welcome addition to everyday life.

How Marketers Can Make the Most of Augmented Reality

If you’re a savvy marketer, you already utilize an array of interactive digital media components in your campaigns. You may have even considered experimenting with AR, especially after the Pokémon Go craze took much of the world by storm in the summer of 2016. But how can you make the most of your marketing dollars?

Fortunately, AR can work for a variety of brands and businesses. Take a smart approach to AR, and you can incorporate one of the most innovative multimedia types into your marketing strategy. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Entice Customers to Visit Your Business

AR is a great method for enticing customers to visit your business’s brick-and-mortar location. Start small by offering customers a discount or a special gift when they use your app to check in at your business.

If you’d rather try something more innovative, make the most of popular AR apps and games. With Pokémon Go, marketers can spend a little to lure customers to a business and then encourage them to stay and spend money with a fun and engaging on-site experience. Making a method like this work for your brand could take a little trial and error, but it has the potential to make a substantial impact.

Improve Customers’ In-Store Experiences

Once you’ve encouraged customers to visit your business, use AR to improve their experiences. Use virtual floor plans to help customers navigate the store and find the products they want. Enable customers to unlock ads and specials in certain parts of the store, or encourage users to see products in action with AR.

Make Your Products Easy to Understand

Consumers who shop online have become accustomed to having everything from product data to customer reviews at their fingertips. Offering this kind of functionality in your brick-and-mortar location could help drive physical sales. For instance, you can encourage shoppers to use an AR app to scan or photograph products in the store for quick access to product descriptions, ratings, and an online purchase option.

Invite Customers to Test Out Your Products

From furniture to makeup, discerning consumers want to test out products before they commit to a purchase. AR enables users to try on new shades of lipstick and eye shadow before deciding on a color, or lets the purchaser determine how well a sofa or dining room table will fit in a real-world space.

Key Benefits of Augmented Reality

When done well, AR offers a few key benefits. Add AR to your marketing mix, and you’ll benefit your brand and your customers in these helpful ways.

It Enhances Real-World Experiences

Virtual experiences can be impressive, but they don’t offer the real-time effects of a physical experience. AR bridges the two worlds, creating an immersive experience that’s both highly sophisticated and intensely personal.

While AR produces memorable, exciting experiences, this technology doesn’t create completely new worlds. Instead, AR is most effective when it enhances the reality that’s already present, making a good experience even more positive.

It Adds Value to the User Experience

In today’s busy world, most consumers are short on time and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data around them. AR has the unique ability to give users crucial insight during the purchasing process, while exploring an attraction, or while attending an event. This adds value to the user experience without risking information overload.

It’s Highly Sharable

From Pokémon Go’s interactive environments to Snapchat’s fun filters, AR experiences are highly sharable. While this certainly benefits the platform itself, the shareability can also impact your brand. Whether you produce a custom geofilter in Snapchat or sponsor a location in Pokémon Go, you can use the social aspects of AR to drive brand identity and customer loyalty.

Future Prospects for Marketing With Augmented Reality

Though AR isn’t exactly new, it’s only started to gain significant traction in recent years. That means marketers can expect much more to come in the world of AR.

Branded Realities

Many existing apps have limited the amount of third-party branding they support to refrain from oversaturating the in-app environment and alienating users. In the future, however, AR has much greater potential for seamlessly integrating branding into an enhanced reality.

Ubiquitous Virtual Advertising

Millennials don’t always respond positively to traditional advertising. As digital natives, they tend to rely on social sharing and online communities when making purchasing decisions. With its high-tech approach and immersive experience, AR can tap into this market and help brands pioneer new ways of reaching younger consumers.

Precise Calls to Action

AR already relies on geolocation data to generate experiences, but some industry experts predict that this tendency will only increase. As AR technology develops, marketers may be able to prompt specific calls to action in precise locations. This has the potential to enhance customer experiences while enabling marketers to fine tune their strategy.

Don’t let your brand miss out on this increasingly popular technology. Incorporate AR into your marketing strategy, and start harnessing its power.