With an onslaught of both existing and emerging marketing tools, B2B marketers can easily get stuck in an overwhelming cycle of re-evaluating their marketing technology strategy and MarTech stacks against the next trend. This alone becomes a full-time job and can diminish, instead of enhancing marketing teams’ effectiveness. However, if you are marketing complex products or solutions, it is worth evaluating the addition of a visually interactive application this year.
Technologies such as interactive 3D product and environment models, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) offer marketers and sales teams invaluable tools that provide a uniquely memorable experience for customers.
You may think that these technologies are too much of a gimmick for your brand and will not leave the professional impression you desire with a prospect. Used thoughtfully and strategically, however, these technologies are quite the opposite. For example, imagine a Sales representative showing up to a sales meeting at a hospital pushing an enormous CT scanner. You probably cannot picture that because it never happens. It is absurd. A large diagnostic imaging instrument is not a product you can demonstrate in your customer’s workplace – which, by the way, is precisely where it needs to be demonstrated so the salesperson can convey the product’s specific value in the customer’s individual context.
Now, imagine that the same salesperson pulls out an iPad, Microsoft Surface Pro, or an Android tablet, and hands it to the customer. What if the customer interacted with a photo-realistic virtual (digital) version of the CT scanner, and was able to see exactly how the CT scanner would look, fit, and function within their own space and workflow? Or, should the salesperson want the customer to understand their full range of radiology instruments in a realistic radiology department setting, the customer puts on a lightweight untethered virtual reality headset – like the new Lenovo Mirage Solo – to see, experience and learn about the products while fully immersed in this virtual radiology department.
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As the ancient Chinese proverb goes, “Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I’ll understand.” Interactive applications do more than tell about and show products; they involve customers in the process of evaluating these solutions to their individual and unique business and technical challenges. This interaction results in accelerated sales cycles and more closed deals. When deployed on a powerful marketing platform that includes robust analytics to provide insights about users’ interactions, similar to common website analytics, these applications have been shown to deliver significant, measurable ROI.
This ROI is driven by improvements in sales results and also dramatic reductions in product shipping costs (such as at trade shows or the example sales meeting mentioned earlier). Interactive applications have been proven more effective in attracting and increasing real brand engagement.
Visual interactive applications are the next phase in digital transformation for B2B marketing, complementing and expanding upon traditional digital marketing efforts, such as Email Marketing, Digital Advertising, and Content Marketing. In fact, when these strategies are used to drive prospects and customers to an interactive experience, their effectiveness is amplified.
Here are some examples of immersive, visual interactive applications that offer compelling storytelling experiences:
Virtual Reality for Sales/Marketing/Education
From the consumer standpoint, Lowe’s Innovation Lab is training customers on DIY skills using Lowe’s products and services, serving as a handy sales tool. The Holoroom, used in a few stores, “demonstrates our ability to teach customers in a way that we could have never previously imagined,” according to their site. As innovation changes marketing, Virtual Reality is the next technology to improve retail and marketing, according to ABI Research.
Augmented Reality for Sales and Marketing
With an AR application created by Kaon Interactive, Cisco sales teams and channel partners can explore the complete Cisco product catalog in augmented reality from an iPad or iPhone. This allows prospects to view what complex hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, for example, look like in a rack, to scale, before purchasing. Watch this video showcasing the power of AR for enterprise marketing and sales.
Virtual Reality for Sales
Food processing company VERYX created a VR view of one of its food sorting machines. Potential customers take a self-guided, virtual tour without ever visiting an installation, saving time and money and lowering the barriers to sales.
According to Deloitte, 88 percent of midmarket companies are already using AR or VR as part of their marketing strategies. In 2019, it is a priority for chief marketing officers to evaluate the benefits of adding immersive and interactive technologies to their MarTech stacks to remain innovative and competitive.
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