People's purchasing decisions are more influenced by emotions than by rational arguments. That is why marketing always looks for new ways to appeal to buyers' limbic system. The best way to do this is through experiences. Immersive marketing makes engaging brand experiences possible through new digital technology.
Immersive marketing means that the customers can fully dive into the brand experience. In most cases, this is achieved by the use of modern technology: 360-degree videos and virtual reality applications allow users to experience products in unprecedented ways. They are not only rationally processed but also experienced. The distance between viewer and medium disappears: customers enter the world of the brand on their terms.
360-degree video vs. virtual reality
360-degree videos are comparatively cheap to produce today. If a 360-degree video is viewed on a computer via YouTube, users can navigate the video with their mouse. They can look left, right, up or down as they please. Using 360-degree videos, brands can let users experience product presentations, their headquarters or events.
Virtual reality works with the help of VR glasses. As the requisite technology is becoming increasingly widespread and even the smartphone can be transformed into one with cardboard, virtual reality is now widespread enough to be used in marketing. The possibilities are endless: car manufacturers can put users behind a virtual steering wheel of their latest product. Large construction projects can be explored before ground was broken. Compared to 360-degree videos, these interactive, virtual experiences are of course a lot more complex to produce – but also even more engaging.
But it does not have to be purely virtual experiences. The real world can also be enriched digitally. In this case we speak of augmented reality. A much-cited example of this is Pokemon Go.
Immersive marketing is perfect for keeping up with the current personalization trend in marketing. While personalized experiences are practically impossible through classical media such as radio, TV or print, digital marketing focuses on content that corresponds to individual customer segments. Apart from the personal salutation in newsletters, web content can be distributed dynamically using marketing automation content.
360-degree videos and virtual reality do not only transmit personalized content, but individual experiences: Every customer can experience the content in their own way. User decide where to look when they watch a 360-degree video. Virtual reality takes this approach one step further by allowing users to experience and interact with a virtual environment individually. Through augmented reality, users' environment is digitally enhanced to provide unique experiences.
Immersive marketing, however, does not necessarily have to be restricted to digital media. For example, Airbnb co-operated with the Art Institute of Chicago to promote a special exhibition on Vincent van Gogh in 2016. The "bedroom in Arles", where the painter lived until his death, was reconstructed to be rented by Airbnb customers for this marketing co-operation. Guests were able to sleep one night in a painting via Airbnb. This campaign was of course not only about the immersive experience of individual guests, but also about the massive media attention it drew.