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The Importance of Interactive Content – Part 2

Natalie Ediger, December 18, 2019· Digital Learning

How immersive experiences can revolutionize the marketing

Today it is no longer enough to rave about the wonderful product features. The brand must tell a story. Storytelling has therefore become an absolute must in marketing. But not only that!

In our last article, we emphasized the important role of interactive content in attracting viewers’ attention. Now we’re stepping up the game. Instead of storytelling it’s now all about “storyliving”. “Immersive Marketing” is the keyword.  Another trend word? Well, kind of.  But a trend word with lots of potential.

VR, AR – may sound a bit like good friends of R2-D2. But we’re talking about the virtual and augmented reality. Immersive experiences that offer completely new narrative worlds in the field of content marketing. We explain what immersive experiences are, what opportunities arise in the marketing area and what needs to be considered.

What exactly is immersive marketing?

We are referring to the  immersion in the contents of a medium, so that several senses are addressed simultaneously. The more real the simulation feels, the more intense the experience.

Modern technologies make such an experience possible. There are the following differences:

  • In Virtual Reality (VR), the viewer enters a completely closed digital environment that replaces the real one. The virtual world is made even more tangible by special tools such as VR glasses or in a projection room, so that we become part of this three-dimensional experience and can interact directly with our environment.

  • In Augmented Reality, the real environment is extended with the help of digital objects. We know this mainly from smartphone apps, where we can integrate special stickers into the images. The following video illustrates the SlapStick App:

  • With 360-degree videos, the user is a silent observer, but can choose the perspective himself and thus explore the surroundings from preferred angles.

Especially in virtual reality, most people still think of a colorful “gaming” world for “kiddies” where you can catch some Pokémon. However, many large companies have recognized the strength of immersive experiences and are integrating them more and more into their marketing strategies.

Why immersive marketing is that powerful

Today visual storytelling is an absolute must in content marketing. But digitalization is progressing. With digitalization comes the sensory overload. With the sensory overload, the ever shorter attention span. And with the shorter attention span, the ever-increasing challenge of retaining customers. Companies have to fight with no holds barred to win the customer over.

“Bigger. Better. Stronger.” – This is the motto to use when you want to stand out from the competition. And that’s why immersive experiences are so important today.

Hyperreal Storytelling

Today, every piece of information must be packed into emotional storytelling, otherwise it won’t work anymore. Stories activate our biographical (narrative) memory and form a series of messenger substances that enable us to store information in long-term memory. With the help of immersive experiences, the user is not only a passive spectator, but actively dives into the action and becomes part of the coherent plot. This means that several senses are addressed simultaneously so that the brain is more actively involved and processes the information faster than with purely static content. Through the multisensual approach, immersive formats therefore serve as an enormously powerful means of communication.

Brand Experience

“Sensation Marketing”  is the keyword. With the help of VR or 360-degree videos, brand messages can be conveyed much more intensively than with conventional videos.

This can arouse enthusiasm as well as the urge to interact with the content. The higher interaction rate between viewer and brand enables the development of a closed brand community, which has a positive effect on customer loyalty in the long run. On the other hand, you achieve a longer retention period of the users on your webpage.

Show your expertise

Immersive experiences are not as widespread as other marketing activities. In order to create immersive experiences effectively, a lot of technical know-how is required. By incorporating such elements, you prove your excellent expertise, gain competitive advantages and communicate the brand philosophy in an innovative way.

Breathtaking product experiences

In addition to the emotional bond, immersive experiences also fulfil a functional aspect, namely the vivid product staging. Complex technological features in particular can thus be presented in real terms and at the same time visualize the extent to which the customer can benefit from the product or service. For example, VR can be used in the tourism industry to illustrate travel destinations or hotel tours, or in the automotive industry even to carry out test drives.

Raise curiosity

Although big brands are increasingly investing in VR, AR and 360 degree videos to become part of the brand experience, immersive content is still at its early stage and is therefore a great option to stand out from the crowd and arouse curiosity. And this is extremely important, because today we only have 8 seconds to win the attention of the viewers. Unlike overwhelming newsletters, website banners and TV ads, VR& Co open up completely new possibilities to get in touch with the customer.

To be considered

After all the fantastic advantages there is of course also the downer: The creation of immersive experiences proves to be relatively complicated. The basic requirement is an in-depth planning. Well, what marketing strategy doesn’t need that? But of course VR means completely different investments and requires a much higher budget than e.g. 2D videos. For this reason, this “illusion on push” will initially remain a mere illusion for many smaller companies and start-ups.

In addition, it is important to create a positive customer experience in which the respective target group also associates such emotions with the brand: Joy, nostalgia, harmony.

That concerns especially the virtual reality, since the spectator dives actively into the plot. A virtual reality, which resembles a frightening horror scenario, in which the user becomes a victim of a zombie attack, may sound exciting. But as soon as the target group associates your brand with frightening, unpleasant and repulsive emotions, the horror-like virtual world becomes your own reality.

So even the most expensive VR production can damage the brand image. The goal is to achieve a stronger identification with the brand message. Think carefully about the needs of your customers and how immersive marketing can positively influence the customer experience before entering the science fiction world.

But if you plan with care and a targeted strategy, there will definitely be many opportunities to capture the customer in your brand story.

Conclusion: The immersive future awaits us

“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn” – Benjamin Franklin’s quote sums up the potential of immersive experiences quite well.

Customers are increasingly asking for authentic and personal experiences that go far beyond traditional storytelling. Immersive experiences are still relatively in their infancy. And VR will probably only be significant for the “global players”. However, as  technology progresses, more and more doors will open in the field of experimental marketing soon, making customers an active participant in the brand world. High-quality and original content is crucial to stand out from the crowd. Whether VR, AR or 360 degree videos, immersive marketing offers us a groundbreaking method to achieve a decisive added value through a multi sensual approach and helps to remain in the customer’s memory for a long time.

If you are still looking for some inspiration on how interactive content can spice up your content marketing, take a look at our article here.