When was the last time you got excited about direct mail?
When you think of direct mail you hardly think of something immersive or engrossing, since the experience is most often limited to what you’re seeing in your hand or on a surface in front of you.
However, with a virtual reality (VR) direct mail viewer you can turn every phone into a conversation with your experience right in the middle of it.
So far VR has shown that it can effectively help people visualize the future, spark empathy, grasp more complex concepts, and communicate stories in compelling ways.
For example, VR has the potential to help us become “better people”.
When VR direct mail is a good opportunity
I’m regularly tasked with thinking of new marketing experiments to capture value for a new product or business. Often these experiments look at testing marketing channels like email, search engine and social media to help the buyer along the buyer journey.
Direct mail is rarely one of these channels. However, direct mail with virtual reality capabilities has moved into an experiment worth considering if certain conditions are met:
- You’re a business with a mailing list that is current and targeted.
- You have a high degree of certainty the recipient fits the characteristics of a high probability buyer or influencer like an existing member, employee, donor, etc.
- The expected benefit of the experiment is greater than the cost of running the experiment.
- The expected benefit = increase in a key metric x probability of success.
Expected benefits of VR direct mail
An expected benefit is likely greater in a VR direct mail campaign when aimed further down the funnel like a new purchase, increase size of purchase and/or shortening of the purchase cycle. It could also be targeting referrals or even just retention.
Keep in mind that you’ll likely need to report on what direct mail has long been measured against, like response rates, cost per lead and cost per acquisition, which includes cost per unit plus all the other costs to produce and manage the campaign.
Since VR direct mail is a digital medium, it can provide insights from the analytics that might factor into the expected benefits you seek. Analytics in VR technology is, unsurprisingly, focused primarily on eye-tracking heat maps. An eye heat map data visualization helps to understand where people are most engaged throughout the experience. This data also provides meaningful clues to what viewers might be missing that you originally intended for them to see or spend more time on items you may not deem relevant. It is ideal to do some testing prior to mailing because the data itself can inform you to make better decisions in other marketing efforts.
Some VR campaigns include video so expect standard video analytics to be a part of measuring engagement.
Risks to avoid when using VR Direct Mail
New technology often gets sucked into the trap of coming across as gimmicky if not done correctly. It is wise to fully adapt and take advantage of the strengths of the medium. If your work is not contributing to the overall enhancement of the experience, then you shouldn’t use it.
Avoiding the Gimmicky Trap:
- VR is not about putting products into alluring 3-D spaces but building an engaging experience.
- The idea is not to have someone look at an advertisement for a bit longer than they typically would. The experience should be exploratory. The user should be in control of the experience, not the advertiser.
Suggested campaign types
Keeping the buying process in mind, here are some suggestions on what to consider when creating, not only an exciting experience, but a meaningful expected benefit for your first VR direct mail campaign.
- Interactive Tours — Let your customers choose their own adventure while their data tells you how to plan your roadmap.
- VR Post Cards in Giftshops — Your special exhibits can be brought home to share and cherish as collectible designs.
- Supercharged Showroom — Customers can look under the hood with just a glance and schedule a test drive before the dealer even opens.
- 3D Model Previews — Invite your VIPs to the grand opening and let them pre-order your reserve stock.
- Contextual Surveys — Know what your customers really want so you can offer incentives that truly make an impact.
- Attention Research — Learning what draws your audience’s eyes during a screening let’s you change the story before it ever goes to market.
- Mass Customization — Speak to every fan through custom covers and original content synced to each card.
- Event Updates — If your customers already have a VR Card, keep the conversation going with fresh content and incentives before the big day.
Hands on examples of how VR can win over an audience
Virtual reality can help you communicate “a day in the life” experience in a very effective way. Here are two examples:
- Planned Parenthood created a VR film ‘Across the Line’ to effectively communicate “the experience of verbal harassment the organization’s employees and patients routinely endure on the way to a clinic’s front door.”
- The Golden State Warriors pitched Kevin Durant with a VR tour of the team’s practice facility and new stadium.
Where to go from here
If you are on a tight budget you could look to VR direct mail to deliver a meaningful impact. Consider all campaign types and review the optimal conditions listed above to determine if you’re in a good position to pitch this type of campaign in a future marketing experiment.
Best of luck!
Interested in learning more about virtual reality? Take a look at the VR AR industry from inside.com which recently included this handy summary on the future of VR.
By 2020 there will be around 42 million VR headsets globally and this will revolutionize the business world, from making hardware type televisions obsolete to letting people attend live concerts from their living rooms. – THE DRUM
Mitchell Posada, Founder & Senior Product Consultant of LeanStart.io
Mitchell Posada runs a CMO as A Service consulting firm LeanStart.io focused on scaling tech-enabled businesses. Mitch has spent most of his career launching digital products and helping businesses leverage technology and process innovation to transform brands and increase ROI. Mitch is known for his Product and Growth strategy and execution consulting to dozens of start-ups in mobile, IoT, digital marketplaces, and sports. Mitch is currently a mentor at 2112inc.com, MatterChicago.com, 1871.com, Super G Accelerator, and Xberts.com. Formerly VP of Marketing at PathfinderSoftware.com, a healthcare software development company. Prior experience with large enterprise includes DHL WorldWide, WellsFargo, Best Buy, AdMob/Google, Humana, Nestle, HP, and IDT Telecom. Mitch earned his M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley.