5 Ways to Use Mobile AR to Drive Your Marketing and Sales

By Andrew Makarov / 02 May 2019

Have you been searching for a cutting-edge solution to get a leg up on the competition in your market? Bolster engagement and ramp up revenue for your business by integrating AR technology into your marketing campaigns. From letting users virtually try out your products from the comfort of their homes to simplifying complex instruction manuals, AR poses an endless array of potential applications for your brand.

The advent of new technologies has offered the marketing and sales industries a bevy of opportunities, with mobile technology being among the most dominant. 

Augmented reality (AR) extends this innovation trend further by allowing customers and end users to engage in experiences that were previously impossible. Let's take a look at 5 ways to use mobile AR to produce entirely new interactions.

1. Sampling the Wares with AR

One of the most obvious uses of AR in sales is to show customers their options before they buy, delivering a true WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) experience. 

Across an array of industries, companies now offer customers a preview of shoes, eyeshadow, outfits and even appliances that strike their interest. By simply pointing their smartphones at themselves or spaces in their homes, buyers can now instantly see how a purchase might look in the real world.

L'Oreal and Perfect Corp have jumped on the AR bandwagon. With an eye towards reluctant customers, they harness the power of AI to display how different elements will pair up with each other. 

Timberland has created a virtual fitting room app that allows customers to snap selfies and set pictures of their faces on models with a similar body type to see exactly how clothes will look when worn.

The trend is hardly limited to the fashion world. In 2015, Home Depot stepped into the AR ring with its Perfect Color app. The AR techniques it employs respond to ambient lighting, furnishings, and even shadows to guide customers through the selection process for painting rooms. 

Going even further, they added a feature that allows customers to place AR versions of products they want to buy in their homes. If you want to see what a new faucet would look in your own bathroom, you can simply point your smartphone at the sink and see how a new item might appear.

Virtual furniture augmented reality app

Ikea also offers an AR catalog to try out different looks for a room by mixing and matching furniture. Once you arrange a bunch of items you like into a scene, you can quickly turn the selection into an order. If you're sure what will fit in the space, the app can even guide you through the decision-making process.

2. Using AR to Improve Assistant Technologies 

Anyone who has ever used a manual or voice assistant can attest to an obvious limitation with both. The ideas and instructions they contain can be rather difficult to understand without someone showing you how they work.

Since 2015, Hyundai has been using  AR-based systems to enhance the utility of the humble owner's manual for drivers. Users can aim your phone at any part of a car to learn about it. If you're not sure where to the brake fluid reservoir is, for example, the AR display will show it clearly labeled.

AR-based system to evaluate car parts

Setup, configuration, and repair processes are expedited using AR. While installing an appliance, a customer can utilize an AR app to see where a key component such as an electrical power supply plugs into an appliance. 

This app has the potential to reduce customer support calls and improve satisfaction levels by empowering product owners.

Exploring new spaces is also a case where assistants that work in AR environments can be immensely helpful. American Apparel uses AR to help customers navigate their stores and get information about products that are on the shelves and hanging from racks. 

StubHub deployed an AR app that allows attendees of the Super Bowl to find their way around the stadium and the city, guiding them to everything from seating sections at the game to public transportation nodes and parking around the host city.

Whether you are dealing with tours, outdoor and indoor navigation, user guides, manuals or even unboxing, AR is a superb way to see that the customer experience is more convenient and pleasant. 

Airports are adopting AR apps to improve passenger flows. Many other types of large venues are embracing the AR experience as a new way to provide instant help to visitors:

  • Galleries 
  • Museums 
  • Trade shows
  • Conventions

AR has immense potential for use at large sites such as hospitals and shopping malls, as well.

3. Driving Deeper Engagement Through AR

Bringing brands together with customers impactfully through marketing and sales has always worked best with a degree of direct engagement. 

Humans are visual animals, and AR allows us to take those efforts into the visual realm—way further than we could do it with traditional media or even recent smart apps. AR ensures that diverse brand content can be quickly converted into an AR experience that will excite consumers.

If someone needs to get in touch with a representative, they can pull out that person's business card, point their phone at it, and have the device handle the rest of the initial contact. 

Taking picture of someone's business card with ARKit

Technologies like ARKit can trigger an entire process of object recognition and provision of digital content in augmented reality. This yields a number of results, including shortening of the sales cycle. Customers can use a smart app to connect with marketing materials, videos and interactive content in an instant rather than waiting for a sales rep to get back to them.

4. Generating Buzz with AR

While earned media is hard to attain, AR experiences give companies the chance to garner free or nearly-free publicity through daring feats. 

Airwalk developed a mix of geolocation and augmented reality to become the basis for launching the limited edition of their Jim shoes. All customers had to do was download the application and pay a visit to the virtual store.

The company gained $5 million in earned media, thus posted its best e-commerce weekend to date in the process.

Pepsi has taken a different tack with its AR experience. As part of its Pepsi Max campaign, the company rolled out an AR experience that converted bus shelter windows into new windows where they could see fantasy-based happenings like UFOs, tigers, and robots getting set loose in the city.

The idea was to take a boring experience—commuting—and turn it into something unforgettable, netting brand attention along the way.

Pepsi Augmented Reality Experience

Uber has taken a similar direction, building virtual adventures into the experience of waiting for a train at the main station of Zürich.

They've also gone the extra step of building it into a viral marketing campaign, garnering more than 1 million views for a single YouTube video.

The key to driving buzz through AR apps is focusing on providing an experience. While your goal is to encourage engagement with your brand, you need to give the user an experience they can feel, care about—and share.

5. Getting Serious with B2B and AR

Product customization in the B2B sphere is one of the great challenges that companies face. AR is in a prime position to ensure that customers in B2B transactions can rapidly customize products.

Virtually modifying items to the point where users like what they see, which means they can know for certain they want to buy it.

AR has brought us a long way from the days of glossy trifold brochures and painful PowerPoint presentations. Salespeople use AR to easily put products in front of customers in an interactive and customizable environment. 

A developer can use an AR walkthrough to show potential buyers what a commercial office space will look like when renovations are done.

AR walkthrough to show potential buyers what a commercial office space will look like when renovations are done

AR offers unlimited opportunities to enhance the basics of business. Workers can be brought up to speed on topics more quickly with AR-based systems that function as self-help portals and training manuals. 

Project collaboration will ensure that everyone has a chance to be in the same room, even if some of the participants are halfway around the world. Remote access connects expert advice in a timely manner to where it’s sorely needed the most.

AR-based project collaboration

A Forrester report estimates that by 2025 14 million U.S. workers will regularly wear smart glasses at work. Sometimes referred to as "connected worker" concept, this would allow rapid monitoring, remote collaboration, and notification—even in difficult environments. 

More importantly, jobs that have hands-free demands will become significantly more efficient when workers can call up information without having to use their hands. Wearable AR will even make it possible to seek expert advice while performing jobs in the field, including: 

  • Installation
  • Maintenance
  • Replacements 
  • Repairs

AR will also take QA efforts to a new level by making it easier to search for imperfections that may not be readily visible to the human eye, yielding massive improvements in accuracy.

Revolutionizing the Future: AR’s Path Forward

There are many revolutionary ways of transforming business and keeping customers engaged with AR.

From service delivery to indoor navigation, from real-time equipment monitoring to product presentation, AR can give an edge over competition within a variety of practical applications, from marketing to ease-of-use.

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