When it comes to marketing technology, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are the talk of the town. The New York Times and IBM, for example, are teaming up to promote a new movie with their AR app, and this year sports fans could view Super Bowl LI highlights in VR.
Big brands are using these technologies to appeal to and engage their audiences, but are all marketers ready to do the same? A new report from Yes Lifecycle Marketing reveals that only 8 percent of marketers are using VR right now. The fact of the matter is that marketers want to innovate, but remain realistic about the return on investment of advanced tactics like VR and AR. Before they can innovate, they must master the fundamentals, especially personalization tactics that consumers consider a given.
Innovating Where it Matters Most
By creating more innovative campaigns, brands can differentiate themselves in the crowded marketing space. However, according to the Yes Lifecycle Marketing report, which surveyed more than 300 marketers, media darlings like VR and AR are too advanced for today’s marketers. Fifty-seven percent said they don't believe VR directly applies to their organization, and 55 percent said the same about AR.
Instead, marketers are choosing to focus on and enhance channels that already work well for them: email and social. To achieve this in 2017, marketers plan to incorporate dynamic offers and user-generated content (UGC) within their campaigns. Nearly half (46 percent) of survey respondents, for example, said that they're not currently using dynamic offers but want to in 2017, and 38 percent said the same about UGC. Additionally, 29 percent of marketers noted that they were interested in beacons.
Tactics like these allow consumers to actually interact with brands, thus building better relationships and generating better engagement. For instance, Chipotle does a great job of incorporating dynamic offers into its marketing efforts. The brand has created interactive games that give customers a play-to-win experience. The reward, often free food, expires within a certain date and can be used only at nearby locations, driving eager winners to cash in on their prize by heading to their nearest Chipotle.
Incorporating tactics such as social media share buttons and video can also contribute to innovative success. Applying or improving such tactics, as well as considering more advanced ones like geo-fencing and personalized videos, will help marketers reach customers at the right time with the right message.
Mastering the Basics
Before marketers can innovate, they must first master the basics of personalization. In Yes Lifecycle Marketing’s survey, nearly half (49 percent) of respondents admitted that their personalization efforts are weak, with 68 percent hoping to improve them this year. In addition, 35 percent of brands still don't personalize email copy, and even more (46 percent) don’t personalize subject lines.
Changes as small as these can make the customer feel connected to a brand, which helps to generate long-term loyalty.
Along with email, brands recognize that other channels need extra attention in the personalization category. Fifty-nine percent of marketers said they wish to improve website personalization, while 44 percent plan to increase personalization on their social channels such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Taking on 2017 the Right Way
Brands are headed in the right direction; they know they need to enhance their tactics to achieve their goals, starting with mastering the fundamentals of personalization. By executing relevant and targeted campaigns, marketers can smoothly bridge the gap between email, display, SMS, push and social channels.
However, brands also know they can’t master personalization alone, so they're ready to turn to technology and service providers for help. With this combined expertise, marketers can further explore realistic, innovative tactics that will help them achieve their goals. Investing in the right tools, setting achievable goals and building a strategy with customers in mind are instrumental to success.
Ivy Shtereva is the director of marketing at Yes Lifecycle Marketing, a provider of email and digital marketing services.
Related story: Q&A: A Deep Dive into the “Retail Meltdown”