Does Virtual Reality Have A Place In Home Improvement Marketing?

You may have noticed the increasing popularity of virtual reality, with gaming platforms and 3D cinema pushing the frontier of virtual reality year after year.  Developments in VR technology have particularly skyrocketed since video game companies started released next generation virtual reality headsets in the early 2010s.  But outside of video games and movies, have you considered whether or not virtual reality could be used in marketing your home improvement company?

Virtual reality is quickly becoming more and more integrated into daily life, and in this article we’ll take a look at whether or not it’s an effective marketing strategy for home remodeling companies.  You’ll learn about what exactly virtual reality is, the difference between VR and augmented reality, whether or not it’s ready for mass advertising, and what to do to prepare for its impact on the future of advertising.

What Is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality is a simulated experience that can either be similar or very different from the real world.  Most current standard virtual reality systems either use headsets or multi-projected environments to show us images and sounds to simulate a real experience.  Using VR technology, you can look around the virtual world and interact with elements within it.

Virtual reality places the user in another world, whether it’s entirely digital or a combination of real and virtual.  VR allows the user to be completely immersed, blocking out almost all other senses to ground them in their virtual reality.

Traditional applications of virtual reality technology are in two areas: entertainment, such as movies or gaming, or in education, such as medical or military training.  It’s often used in workplaces to train people to develop skills without the risk and consequences of actual failure.

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How Does It Differ From Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is a similar type of technology to VR, functioning as an interactive experience of the real-world environment, either enhancing or masking real-world objects and senses. Augmented reality will essentially alter your perception of the real world, interweaving the physical and virtual world together to create an immersive experience.  A popular example of augmented reality is the game Pokémon Go, where users could use their phones to place digital Pokémon in front of them and “capture” them. 

The biggest difference between virtual reality and augmented reality is that while augmented reality alters your perception of the real world, virtual reality replaces it entirely with a simulated world.  For example, VR technology could show you a completely virtual simulation of a new building you’ve never been in before, while AR could show you the structure and systems of the building you’re currently in superimposed over your real-life view.

How Does Virtual Reality Affect Remodeling Companies?

One major use of virtual reality for home remodeling companies is its use in giving customers the ability to visualize the effects of a major home remodel.  Because they won’t know what it looks like until it’s done, VR technology can help show them what the finished product will look like in the space.  This ability to visualize the completed project can help consumers avoid costly mistakes and make changes before the project begins.

Virtual Reality Advertising Examples

Lowe’s home improvement is a great example of a company that made an innovative use of virtual reality by setting up a virtual reality experience for customers to be able to visualize their house after home improvements.  They worked with Microsoft to create a “Holoroom” to give customers the ability to select different products and designs and see how each of them looked.  One of the biggest benefits to Lowe’s was their ability to gather data from the customers through the VR technology and use that research to inform their marketing strategy.  Similarly to Lowe’s, IKEA has an app based in virtual reality technology that lets customers see what their furniture will look like in their homes before the buy it, allowing them to determine whether or not it has the right look and feel prior to their purchase.

There are many examples of VR technology being used to great success by major companies in their advertising and marketing campaigns.  One notable example was when McDonald’s created a Happy Meal Box that folded into a VR headset.  They based the initiative on Google Cardboard, offering consumers an easy way to experience virtual reality technology in an affordable format.  By making VR technology accessible to a wider audience that included kids, they repurposed something that was previously a luxury of the elite to work for them.

Volvo also came out with an application of VR that allows customers to test drive their cars, a unique and useful opportunity for consumers who aren’t within close distance of a Volvo dealership.  Similarly to McDonald’s, they used Google Cardboard to make VR technology accessible to their consumers and their innovation helped them to stand out from competitors.  They continue to update versions of their app to offer 360-degree landscapes for consumers to completely immerse themselves.

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Benefits Of Virtual Reality In Marketing

Home improvement contractors are constantly required to adapt to the many developments in the digital world, and marketing methods are changing rapidly with every new development.  Since digital marketing is certainly where the lion’s share of advertising is being spent, finding new ways to be innovative and help your business stand out is vital to staying ahead of the competition.  The next biggest development in digital advertising seems to be VR and the host of benefits it provides.

A huge benefit of virtual reality in marketing is that your audience is fully immersed in their VR experience, so their ability and desire to click out of or turn off your advertisement is diminished when they don the headset.  The real challenge comes from making VR ads that are enjoyable for the viewer and will entertain them enough that they’ll want to check out your business after they’ve taken off the headset.  Virtual reality marketing gives you a unique opportunity to put your brand image even closer to your consumer’s eyes than any other form of advertising.  Immersion is the most thrilling aspect of virtual reality, and fully immersing your customers into your brand helps your business to connect with them in a unique and personal way.

The two main VR ad platforms are VirtualSky and Immersv, which usually air ads either before a game begins or in between levels.  The VR technology tracks eye movements, letting you as the advertiser know where on the screen viewers are looking and interacting with.  This can help you to adjust your ads to be more efficient and increase your chances of generating interest from the consumer.  An engaging VR ad can result in much higher forms of user engagement as consumers interact with your content and experience it in a more immersive form. 

What To Know About Virtual Reality Going Forward

Virtual reality is in its beginning stages when it comes to marketing and advertising, with most VR ads being done by large companies like Facebook or The New York Times.  Still, the rapid advancement of VR technology means that it’s never too early to make yourself aware of techniques for advertising through virtual reality.  Be prepared for VR advertising by keeping in mind these tips:

1) Show Your Customers The Finished Product

The ability to use VR to see a finished project is invaluable for a home remodeling company.  Many businesses can make promises about what a customer’s house will look like when it’s complete, but very few can show them the finished project before their eyes and ensure the quality of the work they can do for them.  Including features that allow customers to change different aspects and styles within the VR environment of their home will aid them in their home remodel and make you an invaluable resource.

2) Stand Out From Your Competitors

To effectively advertise, you need to do all that you can to stand out in the crowd.  Home improvement is a crowded industry with a lot of competition, and it takes a lot to convince a customer to choose you over one of your competitors.  Being one of the only home remodeling businesses with VR technology makes customers much more likely to flock to your business than one that doesn’t have the same capabilities.  Use your company’s access to virtual reality in all of your advertising and marketing campaigns in order to draw in customers looking to have an interactive experience. 

At the same time, when advertising via VR, ensure that you have a message that goes farther than just your company’s access to the technology.  All of the technology in the world won’t attract customers to your business if you don’t have a unique message.  Creating customer interest in your brand requires engaging content that shows off what your company is and what it can do for the customer.

3) Make Your VR Ads As Entertaining As Possible

Part of the appeal of VR is just how incredibly fun it is to use.  If you create VR ads that are engaging and allow customers to play around within them, you’re much more likely to attract their attention.  You can even incorporate these aspects into the VR technology that lets your customer see their finished product by adding playful features within.  There’s no area of virtual reality that has to be strictly informational; after all, VR has found massive success in entertainment for a reason.

4) Master The Medium Of Virtual Reality

If you employ virtual reality technology in your digital marketing campaign, you want to make sure you’re efficiently making use of every aspect of VR.  Use the immersive quality of VR to its full benefit in order to grasp the audience’s attention with an entertaining and strong narrative about your brand and what you want to say.  Include the option for the customer to interact and provide video and audio cues in order to increase user engagement and attention.  Taking the time to explore all of the fascinating elements of virtual reality and the features available for users will pay off in attracting more customers to your business via the VR platform.

5) Target Your Existing Audience

Through tracking and monitoring the ways your customers are learning about your company you’ll be better able to identify who your main audience is and how they act online.  Once you know where people are finding you online, you can tailor your VR content to these customers and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.  Tracking and monitoring the effectiveness of your advertising campaign is always an important way to ensure you’re spending your money the best way possible, and virtual reality is no different.

Takeaways For Home Remodeling Companies

Virtual reality marketing can give you a unique opportunity to offer consumers an entirely immersive experience with your brand, allowing them to connect with your business on a personal level and increase their chances of choosing your services.  The customer experience is an incredibly important part of any effective advertising campaign, and virtual reality revolutionizes the customer experience in a way unparalleled by any other digital method.

Even though virtual reality advertising is in the beginning stages, it’s important for any home remodeling company looking to stay competitive to be aware of its uses and the benefits it can provide your company.  Interactive experiences through augmented reality marketing that allow customers to see their finished projects in their own home are useful tools that many companies don’t have, and is one investment that your business can make to be competitive without fully investing in virtual reality digital marketing.

The fact of the matter is that virtual reality in advertising is most likely going to be the way of the future, and getting ahead of this growing trend will make your business both digitally savvy and forward thinking in the competitive field of home improvement.  Be proactive in your marketing campaign and explore virtual reality options for your home remodeling business.

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