How do you cut through all the advertising noise that surrounds today’s consumers and get their attention?
Immersive marketing is the key. If you can learn to do immersive marketing right, you can craft deep, personal relationships with your audience that will turn them into lifelong customers.
Immersive marketing isn’t new, but it’s getting renewed attention because it’s a necessity in a world where advertising is everywhere, all the time. Essentially, immersive marketing means taking a consistent message about your brand to the consumer over and over again.
Traditional (pre-internet) immersive marketing meant:
- Hanging a “Sale” banner and a display in your storefront window.
- Mailing out a promotional ad to everyone on your mailing list.
- Putting a complimentary blurb in the local paper.
- Handing out coupons to everyone passing by on the street.
The goal was to get everyone to take notice, get interested, and maybe even a little bit excited about what you were offering.
Immersive marketing hasn’t changed so much as it has expanded. Your business may rely just as heavily on local newspaper ads and flyers as it once did. Now, however, you also have to send newsletters out in email, post on social media, and run an ad campaign on Facebook in order to get people’s attention. And that’s just to start!
Other than the fact that digital contact is increasingly important, the big difference between yesteryear and today is that you also have to focus on really engaging the customer. You absolutely have to give your would-be customers a number of different touch points. Through these touch points, they can joyfully interact with your brand and build those powerful, lasting connections.
Why Is Immersive Marketing So Important (Again)?
You can’t count on advertising alone to generate consumer excitement. Not today. Consumers have gone from tossing “junk mail” into the trash to putting spam filters on their email that delete your ads before potential customers even see them. Consumers just aren’t interested in anything that feels impersonal!
The wisdom of the past told us that a big enough buzz around a brand could attract a consumer’s attention and eventually lead them down the path toward conversion. Today, consumers are equally likely to shut that big buzz out because it’s just one more piece of noise in the background with a lot of other noises.
Why? Consider this: back in the 1970s, the average consumer saw about 500 ads a day. That may seem like a lot — until you realize that a consumer is now exposed to somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day!
To cut through all that visual and intellectual noise, you need to give consumers something they’ll enjoy, remember, and want to experience again. Of course you still want to sell your products or services — but first, you want to make some critical emotional connections. Consumers do business with brands they like — and they like brands that make them feel special or entertained. That’s what immersive marketing today is all about.
Immersive marketing makes use of all the technology available at your fingertips to bring a brand experience to your customers that’s tailored to their interests, seamless across all fronts, and highly relatable. Immersive marketing pulls your audience in, courts them, and encourages them to come to you — where they can learn more about your brand by their own volition.
How do you craft an effective immersive marketing campaign?
Immersive marketing takes strategy. Accept the fact that you can no longer “sell” your audience on anything. Instead, you need to take your audience on a journey that ends at the door of your business. Here’s how to do it:
1. Solidify Your Brand Identity
You can’t deliver a consistent message to your customers unless you clearly understand your brand’s identity. If you haven’t already done it, it’s time to:
- Take stock of what differentiates your brand from your competitors.
- Define your brand’s mission statement and values.
- Decide on your brand’s creative elements — the look, colors, images, fonts, and tone of voice that will help consumers identify your brand at a glance on any platform or medium.
- Understand the persona of your customers through their ages, professions, educational level, and other relevant social identifiers.
This is the information you need in order to guide your brand into the future. Even as modes of marketing change, your brand identity must stay consistent. The more definite you are about your brand’s identity, the easier it will become to deliver an experience that consumers can rely on.
2. Draw Your Audience To You
All of the traditional methods of marketing are still valid and need to be used as part of immersive marketing. Remember, your goal is to expand on what has been done in the past — not replace it.
You still need to create good digital content that will attract potential customers your direction. Good search engine optimization techniques are still essential. You absolutely have to keep plugging away at social media to broaden public awareness of your brand and put effort into your local search marketing. However, you also need to pull the consumer into the full experience with your brand somehow.
This means you need to:
- Create something of value to offer to your audience in order to engage their interest. This can be something that educates them or amuses them — or both. Either way, it should be something they enjoy. Make it a webinar, an ebook, an app, a Snapchat filter, tips and tricks, “hacks” or more.
- Advertise your offer. Pay particular attention to the social media that your target audience uses, but deliver your message through as many social media channels as possible. A cross-platform campaign is essential to an immersive marketing campaign. Consider Facebook a starting place for your posts — not the ending place.
- Involve your audience in your campaign. You cannot have an immersive marketing campaign unless the audience is somehow involved. (I’ll discuss that more below.)
- Funnel consumers toward your website with a call-to-action or sales banner in your offer.
- Collect lead information from the interested audience with the promise of new offers to come.
- Create related content based on your audience’s positive reactions. Then promote it back at your most interested consumers through drip email campaigns with a new call-to-action.
You’ll note that I put special emphasis on involving the audience. That’s because immersive marketing changes the way the marketing game is played.
Older marketing techniques kept a little distance between brands and consumers. Immersive marketing erases that distance, encourages participation, and gets your audience involved Immersive marketing turns the audience and brands into friends who might end up doing business together — but that’s not the emphasis of the relationship. Selling the brand has to take a backseat to the relationship you’re building with your audience if you want immersive marketing to succeed.
Third: You Convert And Continue
Once you have developed relationships that turn into sales, you have to start the housekeeping part of the job. It’s time to monitor your clicks on your blog posts and check how many conversions you made from your last offer.
Then, you do something new. Again, however, you start with your brand and your mission and build as much as possible on what you’ve already done. That helps reinforce your message and the consumer’s experience. In turn, those raise your brand’s credibility and trust — which will ultimately drive sales.
If you want to see a fantastic example of a brand that’s fully on board with immersive marketing, check out Dove’s body-positive campaigns.
- The website offers articles on beauty bias and natural beauty tips.
- A “stories” page offers adult women a place to talk about their body image issues.
- Its Steven Universe mashup videos target teen girls with the same body-positive theme.
- The Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat pages are all tied together around the self-esteem project.
The brand has something to offer everyone, whether they want something informational, inspirational, poignant, or funny. Selling seems like an afterthought (the brand name is barely displayed on the Steven Universe videos) — but how many of the women who have engaged with the brand do you think may now be brand loyal to Dove?
Immersive marketing probably feels like you are taking the “long road” to get to a sale. Keep in mind, however, that it just seems like it would just be easier to throw a pitch out for your brand and try to sell to anyone who is interested. Unfortunately, consumers have become expert at tuning out sales pitches altogether. With 10,000 a day coming their way, they have to be!
Immersive marketing requires you to build a relationship with your audience first and sell to them second. By the time you get around to the sales pitch, you and your audience already have a bond and friendship. And that’s why your audience won’t tune you out like they do all the other brands.