Forbes recently examined emerging opportunities for digital marketing with an article that focused on the future potential of virtual reality and augmented reality. The article looked at various industries that seem especially well-poised to take advantage of those technologies. And naturally, it pointed to some of the ways in which that might be accomplished.
Not to praise ourselves too much, but the Forbes piece seemed to confirm what we said a few weeks ago about how highly enriched web design can give consumers something close to a hands-on experience both during and after the current pandemic. At the time, we highlighted the ways in which certain West Coast institutions had used simulated walk-throughs to compensate for the fact that judges and other interested parties could no longer gathering in person to look at designer showcases.
To reiterate: one of the social side effects of Covid-19 appears to be a major leap forward in the digital marketing applications of VR and AR. This seems to be the point of the Forbes article, as well, which points to social distancing as a factor in why these technologies might soon be making their way into fields like higher education. The article explains that the once vibrant trend of campus tours has essentially ground to a halt as college students adopt remote or hybrid learning, and graduating high schoolers stay home to make their post-secondary decisions from a distance.
Under these circumstances, some schools can be expected to adopt virtual reality tours as their second-best option for digital marketing. And in fact, some may even come to discover that it isn’t really a second-best option at all. While there may be a learning curve involved for faculty members and RAs who now have to make their sales pitches through VR instead of in person, this adjustment also means that they can potentially connect with many more prospective students in a shorter period of time, and at less expense.
When we say “more students,” we aren’t just referring to the greater efficiency of digital marketing. We mean that by bringing students onto virtual campuses – or consumers into other digital spaces – marketers can make themselves known to leads who might have had a more difficult time connecting in the past. It’s easy to see why students and parents might embrace the VR and AR alternatives, especially if they don’t have the financial resources or the time to arrange a campus tour. It’s equally easy to see why busy professionals might take advantage of this form of digital marketing to explore, for instance, a home they are considering buying or a building project they are considering investing in.
So, clearly, designer showcases are far from the only example of VR and AR being used in digital marketing. And it stands to reason that more such opportunities will emerge in the future, especially in the face of a “new normal” created by the pandemic. This should prompt various companies and digital marketing professionals to consider whether to invest in these technologies before they become a common feature of ecommerce strategies. The answer will vary depending on your industry and many other features of how you do business. But it’s something for almost everyone to consider.