As technology gets increasingly advanced, it’s no surprise that we encounter a tidal wave of new terms and buzzwords everyday. Although both virtual reality and virtual tours have been around for quite a while, they still seem somewhat fancy and complicated to many. So, what’s the difference between the two and how can they be used in marketing?
Let’s start with the basics: What is Virtual Reality (VR)?
Virtual Reality lies on the extreme end of Milgram’s reality-virtuality spectrum:
As can be seen, Augmented Reality (AR) lies somewhere between the real and virtual worlds. The biggest difference between AR and VR is that the visual aspects of VR takes the user to a completely different environment while AR is a kind of intermediate stage where virtual elements are overlaid onto the real world.
Immersion is a crucial attribute of virtual reality, The level of immersion depends on the degree of interactivity and sensory feedback. Being able to interact and move around the space while experiencing different sensory signals, together with having the image altered subtly to create depth, is how we trick our brains into the illusion that we are in that virtual world instead of just watching a flat screen. This technology is widely used in many industries, ranging from tourism and retail to the medical industry. And there are many synergies being created between industries to maximize the use of this technology.
Virtual Reality in Marketing
Let’s focus on how VR is used in marketing. Studies show that VR enables users to have a more realistic expectation which then increases the willingness to purchase. An example of incorporating VR into marketing is Thomas Cook, a travel company that started the “Try Before You Buy” campaign, which takes potential customers on immersive 360° videos of destinations to experience a virtual holiday. This campaign generated a 40% ROI in the first three months.
Another example is the use of virtual reality to raise awareness. An experiment done by Stanford Researchers showed the behavioral impact that VR could have on people. People who were immersed in a virtual forest and told to saw through a towering tree until it crashed in front of them later used 20% less paper in the real world than people who only read about the environmental impact of tree cutting. It’s an example of how being immersed in a virtual world can affect a person’s behavior later on.
So, Virtual Reality has real effects on people, now, let’s dive into Virtual Tours.
What is a Virtual Tour?
Put simply, 360° virtual tours are several photographs stitched together seamlessly to build a full 360° view of a space. By including several locations and tags in the tour, it allows users to switch views and zoom in and out, which then provides a much better visualization of the space compared to an ordinary static picture.
So why and how do we use Virtual Tours in Marketing
As explained above, virtual tours give a better picture of the space. Text, images and videos can be added to provide more information. When competing with myriad listings online, studies show that the ones with virtual tours receive 40% more clicks than the ones without. It increases efficiency simply because the potential buyer is more informed about the space/product. In the real estate industry for example, buyers can browse through plenty of properties so by the time they reach out to the agent, they already have in mind what to expect when visiting. It speeds up the buying and selling process, and can lead to a higher rate of successful deals.
Naturally, this technology is not limited to the real estate industry. The fact that it can provide more detailed visualization and its convenience to view from mobile/desktop devices makes it applicable to a wide variety of industries, where products can be showcased and exhibited. Here’s a look at a few examples:
Virtual tour for Automobile
Virtual tour for Exhibition
With a better understanding of Virtual Reality and Virtual Tours and the potential use in online marketing, we hope you’ll be inspired to try it out for yourselves. The barriers to starting are lower than ever, and with the VR industry still in its growth phase, the full potential remains to be realized.