Augmented Reality: The Future of Marketing?

The next big thing in technology these days is augmented reality. If you are familiar with the smash hit “Pokemon Go,” then you are familiar with the way that it works. Using a special screen, whether it’s something like Google Glass or a smartphone, you can see things that aren’t really there and interact with them as you would with real-world objects.

Although this procedure is still growing in potential, one area that is set to capitalise on this idea is marketing. Imagine a future where advertisers and brands can enhance the user experience in a more interactive way than ever before. Well, we won’t have to imagine for much longer.

According to analysts, this industry is about to explode, with a projected spending of over $650 billion dollars by 2025. But why is augmented reality such a golden opportunity for advertisers? Well, let’s see what the potential may be.

Adding Value to the Customer Experience

Let’s say that there are two similar products. You want to buy one, but you’re unsure of which one to pick. Suddenly, when looking at one of them, it comes alive and starts interacting with you. It asks you what features you prefer and then shows you how to use them, all while you’re in the store. Based on that interaction, it’s easy to guess which product you’d end up with.

Because the augmented reality is all about enhancing what’s in front of you, the possibilities here are endless. We’re already seeing some real-world examples of this with companies like IKEA and Lego, which show you how to use their products in your home, as well as how to assemble them.

For furniture companies, it could allow you to virtually place a new couch in your living room to see how it matches with your decor. For toy companies, it could mean that the products come alive and play with your children. Overall, the idea of adding an extra dimension to customer interaction is huge and can serve as a tool to allow some brands to dominate the competition.

Removing Excess Stimuli

While most people are focused on how to add things to the real world with augmented reality, there is also a ton of potential in removing things as well.

Think about it like this; you’re walking down the aisles of a department store, and all of sudden a product pops out while everything else fades from view. It ensures that it has your undivided attention, and will help guide your decision-making process as a result.

This can also be hugely helpful for consumers. Imagine programming the items that you want to buy first and having them be highlighted on your trip around the store. For example, you could opt to showcase only food items that are within your dietary range. If you’re having a party for your kid, then you can select only the products that are related to his or her favorite character.

Shopping for clothes can also be an even better experience as you can try on outfits digitally and make sure that everything you find is in your size. Changing colors and designs is as simple as swiping left or right, saving you time and money.

Enhancing Entertainment Experiences

While 3D technology has seemingly come and gone (again) from the movie theater, augmented reality could step in as the new method for engaging people in interactive storytelling. By upgrading to the “immersive” package, moviegoers can see characters and items outside of the screen that will create a better overall experience.

Concerts and live shows can also benefit from this technology as you can add a whole new element to engage with the audience in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Finally, the video game industry can have a field day with this kind of material. Instead of launching Angry Birds from your smartphone screen you could potentially see them demolish structures right in front of you, putting you right in the middle of the action.

Potential Setbacks

While this technology can create a lot of buzz and excitement, there are plenty of reasons to be a bit skeptical of it. First of all, creating distractions could have a lot of consequences, particularly if people use augmented reality while driving.

Secondly, with more and more brands adopting this strategy, you could be looking at an overcrowded digital universe with every company fighting each other for your attention. Over time, consumers will have to decide which brands will have access to their AR world, which can have startling implications, particularly when it comes to continuing a fair market.

The Bottom Line

No matter what, it seems like augmented reality is going to be the next big thing. Many mid-level brands are already utilising the technology in a variety of ways, and as viewing devices become more widespread and available, it will lead to a massive shift in the way people do business and interact with brands. Overall, it seems like the future is going to be augmented.

Disrupting Digital Marketing with Technology

We are living in a technological golden age. It seems that every day there is some new software or machine that is making our lives a little bit easier, and with these adaptations, many industries are rushing to keep up. Digital marketing is by far the most affected by new technology as it is quickly making old methods of advertising obsolete.

Customer relationships are becoming a large part of the scene, and with it, surprisingly, is a rise of automation. Let’s look and see what disruptions are rippling through the marketing world, and what businesses can do to adapt.

Consumer Experience

In the mantra of marketing, there is a certain flow to things. Buy, Own, and Advocate are the three processes by which to promote your product, service, or brand, and the second part of that equation is fast becoming the most important.

Old school advertising worked really well on the “buy” portion, to the point where that was all that mattered. As long as you could get some people to purchase your product, you were a success. However, since information travels instantly these days, the quality of service and the experience that your brand provides are overtaking the impulse to purchase.

So what does this mean for companies? Well, it means that they need to focus on creating things that connect with the consumer on a more personal level. It’s no longer enough to get people to buy something if they wind up trashing it immediately.

When you look at the top companies in the world such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, you can see that they put a lot of value on providing more than just a product or a service. Take Amazon for example, even if people don’t like what they purchased through the site, they love Amazon’s customer service and attention to detail, which is why they are number one in online shopping.

Humans + Technology = Success

One of the other major trends happening right now is that businesses have to provide speed and efficiency along with an improved experience. Thus, to ensure that each point is handled well, people are turning more and more to automation to fill in the detail gaps and allow the human element to flourish. To better understand how this works, let’s look at a particular example.

The Lounging Dutchman is a robot that is connected to a home brewery. Voice commands activate it and allow you to browse the selections of beers on tap, all without touching a screen. Bots like this work through home automation devices like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri.

These days, having a digital personal assistant is becoming more of a trend than ever. In fact, voice commands are slowly creeping up as a go-to method for search and discovery of new products and services. According to the experts, 30% of web browsing in 2020 will be done this way.

This shows the incredible potential of using customer service oriented bots to handle user experience, and it shows a dramatic shift. Now, you have machines placing orders to other machines on behalf of a human user. If you ask Alexa to order a table from Amazon, everything is handled on the back end, while you, the consumer, experience better convenience, and satisfaction.

Just like voice technology, this level of machine interaction is expected to grow quickly as well. It’s estimated that by year 2020, 25% of transactions will be conducted from a bot or other similar device, which can have stunning implications for the digital marketing world. The speed and convenience of this system could give rise to an even greater demand for instant gratification.

Imagine a future where you see an advertisement for a product, you tell your phone to order it for you, and then it’s at your house by the time you get home. This could soon become a reality, and it will be a game changer for those who can make it happen on a consistent basis.  

Social Media Strategy and Customer Data

Getting back to creating an enhanced user experience, the reason that certain companies can excel at this is because they have so much information about their customers that they can anticipate their needs before they happen. Social media is a huge reason for this, as sites like Facebook have a massive database of consumer details that can be utilised for marketing purposes.
So, with that kind of possibility, the end goal these days is to develop brand loyalty. Think about how people “love” companies like Apple and Amazon, and are so hyped up whenever there is something new that they have to offer. To achieve that kind of loyalty, it’s imperative that your marketing strategy utilises all of these different factors to deliver impeccable customer service.

Bringing it All Together

The main takeaways here are that consumers are more interested in experiences than things, technology can make it easier to connect with your audience, and engagement on a personal level will help develop stronger ties to your brand. As a business, if you can make all three work in seamless harmony, then you are going to strike gold.

Facebook Messenger Marketing

As a business owner, you know that it’s crucial to have a social media strategy in place for marketing yourself to your customers. With the meteoric rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s no longer enough to simply have a website to bring new people in. Fortunately, because social media is so ubiquitous, it’s never been easier to get started with it as a marketing tool.

However, in recent years, trends have started to change. Whereas before you could build customer relationships through traditional Facebook channels such as posting and commenting, now there is a new method at your fingertips: Messenger. Since it debuted back in 2011, this app has swelled to include 1.2 billion users, which means that it’s a market ripe for the taking.

Messenger vs. Email

So what does this application have to offer for your business? Well, the first thing to do is understand what it is essentially replacing. Time was, sending email blasts to your subscribers was the best way to market promotions and new ideas, but now that has become too commercialised. The average consumer gets tons of email every day, and many of them have taken to opening new email accounts to avoid it all. There are also intricacies around email content and frequency to consider, in order to prevent being placed on spam lists and ignored by your audiences. Check the Harmful Digital Communications Act for more details on New Zealand legislation around these issues.

Fortunately, Messenger doesn’t have that problem. Because it is tied to a user’s Facebook account, it’s much harder to fake, and the response is much better overall. When comparing the two, we’ve seen that emails have an open rate of about 23%, while Messenger has 84%. Not only that, but the click-through rate (people engaging with your content) is also higher, with a comparison of 3% to 28%.

Obviously, with over a Billion users, those numbers speak to some enormous potential.

How to Market Effectively Through Messenger

Considering that this is a tool like any other in your digital marketing toolbelt, you can use it much in the same way that you do anything else. So, with that in mind, here are some key principles that you should follow to maximise your ROI.

  • Identify your target audience. Be specific and personalized. As an example, don’t go after “women over 40.” Instead, target “women between 40-50 who want to start doing crafts.” If it helps, develop your ideal user persona and build your campaign for that individual.
  • Know what they want. Once you’ve targeted your consumers, then do research and ask them what kinds of things they are interested in. Do they want coupons? Rewards points? Advance access to stuff? Figure out what will have the most impact.
  • Be short and sweet. No one is going to read through a detailed message that requires scrolling. Get to the point right away and provide any links on top so that if they are interested, they can click immediately. Make it as simple and innocuous as possible; otherwise, you can come across as overbearing.

Bottom Line

As messaging apps like Messenger become more prevalent in our society, it will become more and more necessary to adopt marketing strategies that utilise these tools to your advantage. Fortunately, right now most businesses are not hopping on the Messenger bandwagon yet, so now is the perfect time to strike, before the “next big thing” comes around.

Messenger apps in general are the future direction of digital marketing, as the big players (such as Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp etc.) look to monetise their efforts further. Keep an eye on the upcoming formats and best practices relating to messenger advertising and keep visiting our blogs as we keep you up to date with the latest news in the digital arena.

Social Media Customer Service – Best Practices

These days, you can’t be online for any length of time without checking into social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have come to dominate our lives, which has made them a bit of a tricky situation for businesses. On the one hand, it’s a quick and easy way to reach out to your customers, but then again, you don’t want to risk alienating them by being too aggressive with your outreach.

Nonetheless, social media has changed the game when it comes to customer relationships, more specifically customer service. As long as you utilise a competent social media strategy, you can make sure that your audience feels engaged with your company without becoming overbearing.

So, with that in mind, let’s go over some best practices to keep in mind when using social media as part of your digital marketing and customer service agenda.

Find the Right Platform for You

At first, you may think that your company should reach out to customers on any and all social media sites as a way to ensure that you aren’t missing out on any potential marketing opportunities. However, not all platforms are created equal, and what may work well on one could backfire on another. For example, your audience may like it when you tweet to them when they have an issue, but dislike when you do the same thing on Facebook.

The best thing to do is to search on each site for mentions of your company name and various alterations of it. The one that has the most engaged users will probably be your ideal target for customer service, considering that they are already talking about you. Also, don’t neglect other social media platforms such as Google+ and LinkedIn. Just because they are not as popular as other sites doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth your time.

Pay Attention to Content

They say that when one person complains about something, it’s an opinion, but if two or more do, then it’s an observation. With that in mind, you should be looking at the comments regarding your brand to see what people are saying so that you can customise your service responses accordingly.

For example, if people are frustrated with technical aspects of your business (site not loading, etc.) then you will want to have more of an IT approach. If they are complaining about the service at your location, then it could be that you need to retrain your staff.

Overall, look at what is talked about the most and respond in a way that shows that you are handling the problem specifically. A general apology or statement doesn’t work as well as a targeted and specific resolution. This is also true for positive services, such as letting your customers know of upcoming promotions or deals. Find out what they care about the most and cater to that.

Respond Quickly

Even if your business is relatively small, you should take the time to dedicate resources toward customer service online. If someone sends a direct message or tweets @ you, the sooner that you can reply the better it will be.

There are two benefits to doing things this way. First, it allows you to get ahead of an issue before a client starts spreading their message, and it shows people where they can reliably find you. So, if you respond instantly on Facebook, then they will be more likely to message you there.

That doesn’t mean that you should ignore other sites but put the focus on what makes the most sense for you, and even direct customers on other pages to search for you there. Overall, it provides greater control of where and how you interact with your consumer base.

Filter Your Responses

As a smaller company, you can usually afford to reply to most mentions or messages, since you most likely don’t have that many. However, as your influence and social media presence grows, you can’t expect to have that same kind of attention to detail once you start getting thousands of mentions per day. As such, you need to learn how to filter through the “noise” and reach out to those who are actually looking for service.

So, a comment like “I ate at @yourrestaurant today, it was the bomb” doesn’t have the immediacy as something like “I can’t believe the horrible service @yourrestaurant! I’m never coming back!”

Overall, you want to come up with a ranking system for these kinds of things so that you can prioritise them by importance, not necessarily in chronological order. However, it’s also important that you respond to the positive reinforcement, as it will encourage others to do the same. If you can manage to do both on a constant basis, then hopefully you can increase the number of good mentions and reduce the number of negative ones.

Know When to Make Responses Public

Not every mention needs a public reply from you. Sometimes, you want to take it “offline” and deal with it in either a private message or a phone call. In fact, if you are dealing with a particularly irate customer, a call will usually be better so that you can add more of a personal touch.

For the most part, try to bring negative messages offline, and post positive ones in the public eye. Again, this will allow you to control the overall perception and reputation of your business, so treat it accordingly.

Bottom Line: Be Professional!

No matter what, never manage your business profiles the same way that you would with your personal one. Making jokes, lobbing insults, or going on a rant is never a good idea, so be sure to have a professional mindset when replying to customers, even in lighter circumstances. Ultimately, this will make your social media presence much more respectable and engaging, and won’t come across as pandering.

Top 5 Tips for Maintaining Brand Consistency

What’s in a Brand?

It seems that when many of us think of a certain brand, we also think of the visual elements of that brand first. If you are thinking about the most popular athletic gear and shoes, you could close your eyes and instantly see the logos for Adidas and Nike. Spark NZ is known for their controversial and dynamic recent rebranding. Starbucks is known for their green straws and their mermaid, McDonalds is known for their arches and signage.

A brand is so much more than just the logo, the sign, the design, and the visual appeal of the brand. The power and recognisability of the image come from the services, the product, and the customer experience that is associated with it.

So what are some better ways that you can maintain consistency for your brand? Let’s take a look at some simple implementations that you can start making with your brand now, to help maintain your vision, and extend your reach.

1) Being Consistent Isn’t Boring

Phil Knight and the team at Nike have been using the same Nike Swoosh logo since 1971. Sure, they have had some small changes in how they present that swoosh by changing the colors or the graphics around it, but the power of that image and the logo have stayed the same. Today, it is considered a classic brand belonging to the Lovemarks category.

Don’t think of being consistent with your image as boring. Think of it as building something iconic that is going to make your brand recognisable for years to come.

2) Getting the Team on The Same Page

Which are the brands that you are inspired by?

What are the favorite brands of teammates and members of your company?

Getting your team together on a regular basis to talk about brands that they are inspired and influenced by is a great team building experience. It will also help you develop the perfect design and image what what you want your brand to look like.

When everyone is on the same page, it’s a good idea to have a guide that describes the image and the voice of your brand. If you have team members that are posting, speaking, and emailing on behalf of the company, you want to be sure that you keep the same tone (whether that be conversational, professional, etc.) and language across the board.

3) Put Together a Style Guide

All of the best companies use them, and you should put one together to. Branding style guides may vary, but most of them will include:

– The company’s name

– The mission statement

– The company motto or slogan

– Any and all logos and designs that are associated with the brand

–  The font styles you use

– Copy guidelines for writing and the voice of the brand

4) Full Access

Make sure that everyone on the team that is distributing or using any kind of branding materials has access to them. Keep them in an open cloud file so that you can maintain brand consistency with the use of your name and signage.  

5) Brand Enforcers

Designate some reliable advocates of your brand, within your company, to police the use of your image and your name. Not that you want to hinder creativity or change, but you are going to need to rely on some help to make sure that the representation of your brand is consistent.

Over Time

As the years pass, brands will mold and change to adapt to economic conditions and to better serve their team and their customers, but there are some things that should remain static. Familiarity with your brand will breed comfortability, and consistency is a powerful tool that can take your brand from being the new kid on the block, to a household name.

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