Recent years have witnessed a rise in consumer expectations regarding the quality of content they wish to consume as well as when, where, and how they want to access it. Put simply, if you can’t provide your audience with engaging content on the platform of their choice—when and where they want to view it—then you’re most likely not being seen at all. Hence the importance of Omni-channel marketing strategies and the need to understand each channel’s unique role—so you can engage and interact with consumers on their terms.
In this article, we’re going to show you why Augmented Reality, WebAR particularly (AR without an app), and Interactive Print are must-haves if you’re looking to build truly powerful Omni-channel marketing experiences.
Before diving into the importance of WebAR and Interactive Print in Omni-channel marketing, let’s first clearly define this buzz word “Omni-channel”. The term itself has been around for years now; however, it is often mistaken for what is actually known as multi-channel marketing.
The key difference between these two terms can be best identified through their prefixes: multi, meaning “many”, and omni, meaning “all” or in this case, “all as one”. A multi-channel marketing strategy is just that—a strategy that provides consumers with multiple ways to access content, usually aligned with each other but still quite separate in application.
Omni-channel marketing, on the other hand, provides an experience that engages consumers across channels of their choice, all integrated and working in parallel as a single, smooth, unified experience. Many channels are delivered as one—seamlessly.
So what does Augmented Reality and Interactive Print have to do with Omni-channel marketing? When you hear the words Augmented Reality, quite often it might trigger thoughts of mobile games, dinosaurs roaming through shopping malls, filters on social media apps, or perhaps futuristic sci-fi portals leading to another planet. However, there is another side to Augmented Reality, and it’s a lot more functional and easier to implement than you may think. Welcome to the world of WebAR, also known as Interactive Print.
WebAR-enabled print, now evolved into Interactive Print, is the layering of digital content such as videos and 3D animations over print—to literally bring it to life. WebAR easily unifies multiple marketing channels to deliver a seamless interactive journey for customers, which is far more engaging and convenient than either print or digital content alone. WebAR has been noted to significantly improve the performance of print campaigns and direct mail, with reported response rates increasing from the usual 2–3% to an amazing 35% (Ryan Kiley of Ricoh – PI World May 2018).
WebAR-enabled print allows marketers to utilise print to bypass digital clutter and invoke higher levels of trust, whilst also taking advantage of the versatility, breadth, and measurability of digital platforms.
So, why use WebAR and not just a QR code? There’s absolutely no argument that the past couple of years have been very kind to the QR code, and it’s just now being seen as a powerful connector of print to digital media—and rightfully so. WebAR, on the other hand, takes the humble QR code to a whole new level, with the ability to deliver a more engaging range of digital content while connecting consumers to the channels of their choice.
With 1.9 times the visual attention and 70% higher levels of encoded memory than non-Augmented Reality interactions (Source: Layered), WebAR is the perfect powerhouse technology that enables higher levels of print interaction. When done properly, WebAR is extremely engaging and provides a real “WOW” factor to print. WebAR is also the ideal conduit, bringing traditional print into the Omni-channel world and guaranteeing consumers a more tactile and sensory journey.
Statistics, such as those listed above, paint a very promising future for WebAR and Interactive Print; however, the proof is in the pudding. So, let’s take a look at an example of a real-world WebAR-enabled Interactive Print campaign and the results it produced.
A prominent university in the US has recently reached out to prospective students for re-enrolment via a personalised WebAR direct mail postcard, and it has been producing some amazing results. Three weeks into the campaign, the university has seen direct mail response rates of around 25%, with engagement and click-through rates rising to an astonishing 61%. Marketing, eat your heart out.
The nuts and bolts of this campaign’s success is a “world first” integrated direct mail strategy conducted by a leading print agency in the US. WebAR technology acted as the “glue”, linking all of the components together into a flawless Omni-channel consumer experience.
Here’s a brief overview of how the campaign engaged with prospective students across multiple channels in one impeccable interaction:
All of this initiated from a direct mail postcard!
The powerful WebAR and Interactive Print example detailed above may be the first of its kind; however, this level of Omni-channel integration will certainly not be the last. With evolving technologies making such marketing interactions more simple to deploy and more cost effective than ever before, all indications suggest that such impressive levels of seamless, interactive “all-in-one” engagement will become the new norm for performance focused marketers.