In our increasingly digital world, new technologies constantly emerge and change the way we interact with buyers. Some tools become permanent fixtures in marketing strategies, while others fizzle out just as quickly as they enter the scene. But, if there’s one trend that signals what the future of marketing will look like – it’s the rise of virtual and augmented reality.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) may seem like brand new technologies, but they have already made a massive impact on the world of marketing. Check out these statistics:

  • In 2018, there will be an estimated 171,000,000 VR users (source).
  • 53% of surveyed adults said they would buy from a brand that uses VR over a brand that doesn’t (source).
  • Sales of VR and AR devices will reach $1.8 billion in 2018 (source).

While B2C brands have embraced VR/AR on a large scale, B2B marketers have been slower to adopt this new technology. But, VR/AR is already making its impact on the B2B world, and will only continue to grow more prevalent in the coming years. So, we recommend you add VR to your marketing tech stack sooner rather than later.

Today’s blog will tell you everything there is to know about virtual reality and the ways in which B2B marketers can use this technology to transform the buyer experience. Keep reading!

What is virtual reality and augmented reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of a virtual, three-dimensional environment. Through the use of a virtual reality headset or other equipment, users are transported into a simulated world they can control and interact with. The most common VR tools include high-end headsets like the Oculus Rift and inexpensive products like Google Cardboard.

Augmented reality (AR) does not simulate an entirely new world, but rather augments the natural world with virtual images and other sensory elements. By overlaying a real environment with graphics, sounds and even smells, AR can transform static presentations into a multi-dimensional experience.

What are the benefits of VR/AR?

Virtual and augmented reality can offer marketers a multitude of benefits, depending on how your organization plans to utilize the technology. But, here are a few of the most important benefits for B2B marketers:

1. Personalized experience.

Personalized marketing has become critical in today’s crowded marketplace, as customers demand a buying experience that is tailored to their specific needs. And, VR/AR is as personalized as it gets – buyers can enter your virtual environment and see exactly how your products and services will fit into their unique workspace and address their problems.

2. Emotional engagement.

Unlike their B2C counterparts, B2B marketers often fail to appeal to buyer emotions. But, studies show that 50% of B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase if they connect emotionally to the brand (source).

VR/AR creates a multi-sensory experience that no other marketing medium can replicate. When you bring customers into your brand’s world through virtual reality, you’ll engage with them on a deeply personal level– and forge a powerful, long-lasting connection between brand and buyer.

3. Shorten your sales cycle.

The B2B buyer’s journey is long and complex compared to the B2C buying cycle. In B2B deals, the buying committee consists of multiple stakeholders. VR/AR provides these stakeholders with an immersive, realistic experience rather than a flat product demo. The technology’s effectiveness at conveying the product experience can rapidly speed up the decision-making process and help your organization close deals faster.

Why are B2B marketers hesitant to embrace VR/AR?

While some B2B marketers have begun to explore VR/AR, others remain skeptical of its effectiveness. Let’s quickly address the main objections that B2B marketers have about VR/AR:

VR/AR is too expensive: The most intricate VR equipment may not be cheap– but with the right strategy, it can offer a long-term return-on-investment that far exceeds its cost. And, the market offers a number of lower-cost tools for marketers who want to work their way slowly into the world of VR/AR.

VR/AR is too complex: Some marketers hear “virtual reality” and assume the technology will be near-impossible to understand and adopt. But, that same myth applies to many marketing tactics before they became commonplace. In fact, VR/AR tools have become increasingly streamlined, and the technology is no harder to implement than other high-tech marketing initiatives.

VR/AR is a gimmick: B2B marketing tends to be more traditional and formal. As such, marketers view VR/AR as a flashy new tool that provides no practical value in the business world. But, the statistics don’t lie – by 2022, the number of VR/AR experiences in B2B will account for 40% of all experiences (source). VR/AR may be new and less traditional, but it’s effective and it’s here to stay.

Now that you have a better grasp on virtual and augmented reality, let’s look at some specific examples.

5 ways B2B brands can use VR/AR:

1. Product demos

VR/AR allows you to create a product demo that immerses prospects in your product and shows them precisely how it operates. You can give B2B sales prospects a deeper look at your product than any other platform allows for– and your virtual or augmented presentation will stick with them far longer than a traditional product demo.

2. Training and tutorials

B2B buyers often rely on videos, online manuals, and FAQ lists to learn how to use new purchases. Through VR technology, you can immerse customers into a virtual classroom or training environment. There, they can learn the ins and outs of your product from anywhere.

3. Tradeshows and events.

The biggest challenge of tradeshow marketing is standing out in a crowded event hall. Offer a virtual reality demonstration, and attendees will be sure to flock to your booth. And, you will give them a fun, engaging experience that they’ll remember long after they leave your tradeshow booth.

4. Content marketing.

Your content marketing strategy is more important than ever, as studies show that today’s B2B buyers are two-thirds of the way through their buying journey before they even speak with a vendor (source).

Marketers can leverage virtual reality to create dynamic, one-of-a-kind content to connect with buyers. VR is particularly effective as a visual storytelling technique, as you can transform a traditional video into a fully immersive journey and elicit a powerful emotional response to your story.

5. Virtual stores.

One area where B2C brands have an advantage is that they can showcase their products in physical stores. And, let’s face it, buying products online pales in comparison to seeing them in the real world. Virtual reality can create a simulated environment that replicates the “feel” of shopping in a brick and mortar store.

Key Takeaways about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for B2B

Virtual reality and augmented reality are still relatively new forms of technology.  As such, will continue to develop as effective tools for marketers. But, that doesn’t mean you should wait to use VR/AR until it becomes more commonplace in the B2B world.

For more information about ZoomInfo, the leading business information database, contact our sales team today. We have the tools and technology you need to scale your marketing efforts and generate more revenue.

About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

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