Augmented Reality Content: How to Create Engaging AR Content for eCommerce
Creating augmented reality content positions your brand to increase customer engagement and boost your revenue. To realize the benefits of AR for your business, you first need to know how to develop augmented reality content. Here we’ll show you the steps involved in effective AR content creation.
First, we’ll review just what augmented reality is, break down what elements go into AR, and look at the main types of AR content you can create. Then we’ll explore five benefits of using AR content and why augmented reality is becoming an important trend for eCommerce retailers. Next, we’ll outline a four-step process for creating effective augmented reality content. Finally, we’ll share six best practices for getting profitable results from your AR investment.
What Is Augmented Reality Content?
Augmented reality content refers to the use of AR technology to enhance a user’s real-world environment using digital overlays like 3D models, images, or video to create a mixed reality. Augmented reality content is generally accessible by any user with a camera-enabled mobile device like a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
In a 3D eCommerce context, retailers can use augmented reality for purposes such as allowing online shoppers to virtually try on clothing items by combining selfie images with 3D models of products.
Augmented reality environments create more realistic shopping experiences for customers, increasing engagement and empowering customers to make better purchasing decisions. When online shoppers can actually see how they’d look in an outfit, they’re more likely to buy it.
Common Augmented Reality Content Channels
The most common channels for AR Content in Online Retail & eCommerce include:
- Mobile Apps – Many online retailers leverage their mobile apps to enable customers to view their products in their own environment and test the product size and fit.
- Social Media Platforms – Common uses of ar content across social media platforms include ar filters, interactive 3D ads, and 3D video ads.
- Web-Based 3D Viewers – Web-based 3D viewers are accessible directly through any web browser and allow users to view and interact with 3D product models. Some web-based 3D viewers include customization features to test out different product patterns, colors, and styles.
What Are the Three Elements of Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality combines three essential features to create interactive digital environments:
- Images (and in some cases audio and other sensory elements) blending digital and physical objects and environments
- 3D modeling of digital and physical objects
- Real-time interactions between physical and digital environments
This combination of elements allows users in the physical world to interact with 3D models and environments that simulate the physical experiences of real objects.
What Are the Main Types of Augmented Reality Content?
Augmented reality can combine physical and digital elements into different types of AR content. Four of the most important AR content categories are:
- Static AR content
- Interactive AR content
- Animated AR content
- Location-based AR content
These content types differ in how they allow users to engage in digital content, the type of digital content used, and how they interact with users’ physical locations. The type of content suitable for a specific application depends on the goals of the AR experience, the platform, the devices that will access it, and what type of AR technology will be used.
Static AR Content
Static AR content overlays a background image without changing or moving. It can include images, text, or other visual elements which provide users with information or guidance. For example, a map can include pop-ups that provide viewers with information about local stores, restaurants, gas stations, and other locations of interest.
Interactive AR Content
Interactive AR content lets users navigate and manipulate digital environments. For example, users can zoom in on objects, rotate objects to see them from different angles, or view items in different colors. Content also may include games, puzzles, or other interactive experiences which impart a sense of user interaction and control.
Animated AR Content
Animated AR content includes digital elements which move or change as they overlay real-world images. Smartphone and social media filters that alter the appearance of users’ faces to resemble animals or avatars illustrate this type of content. Animated AR content can include animations, videos, or 3D models that provide users with a more dynamic and immersive experience than other content types.
Location-based AR Content
Location-based AR content incorporates background images from a specific locale and displays digital overlays uniquely accessible from that location. A classic example is the Pokemon GO mobile game, which uses GPS to let users interact with game characters only viewable from specific locations. Brands can use location-based AR content for virtual tours and scavenger hunts.
Five Benefits of Creating AR Content
AR content offers a wide range of benefits to eCommerce retailers. Some of the biggest benefits include the following:
- Increased customer engagement and satisfaction
- Enhanced brand visibility and recognition
- Better customer education and understanding
- Improved customer loyalty and retention
- Increased revenue and profitability
These benefits apply across the economy to companies in many industries. Certain industries, such as eCommerce, fashion, cosmetics, and furniture sales, have taken the lead in AR content marketing. Still, brands can also adapt the tactics used in these markets to many other niches.
1. Increased Engagement and Customer Satisfaction
AR content provides customers with a more realistic, immersive, and interactive online shopping experience. This experience increases engagement with brands, products, and services, while simultaneously providing customers with the information needed to make more confident purchasing decisions, yielding higher satisfaction.
VNTANA data shows that incorporating AR and 3D eCommerce into online marketing can increase customer propensity to buy by 63% while doubling conversion rates.
2. Enhanced Brand Visibility and Recognition
AR content can greatly boost brand visibility and recognition, especially when shared through social media and other digital channels. For example, shoppers who enjoy seeing how they look in AR try-on photos may be inclined to share their experience with friends and followers, putting your brand’s name in front of more prospective buyers.
Offering augmented reality product previews can differentiate your brand from competitors who aren’t yet using AR, positioning your company on the cutting edge. For example, brands like Sephora took an early lead in providing AR content to health and personal care shoppers, gaining a competitive edge in online visibility.
3. Better Customer Education and Understanding
AR content can educate markets and improve customer understanding by allowing for more realistic depictions of products and services. Customers can use AR environments to experience products and services, get answers to frequently asked questions, and try items out virtually before buying.
4. Improved Customer Loyalty and Retention
The increased engagement, higher recognition, and better product understanding fostered by augmented reality encourage greater customer satisfaction, promoting long-term loyalty and repeat business. Customers who enjoy AR-inspired purchases are more likely to buy additional items, as well as more likely to share their experiences with others as brand ambassadors.
5. Increased Revenue and Profitability
The bottom-line benefit of AR content is greater revenue and profitability for brands that integrate augmented reality in their overall marketing and sales strategies. Greater engagement, higher conversion rates, and higher retention rates generate more revenue.
Meanwhile, because customers have a greater product understanding before making purchases, returns fall, increasing profitability. VNTANA data shows that AR and 3D content can lower return rates by 40%.
Projections for Augmented Reality in Retail and eCommerce
The benefits described above have made augmented reality content an increasingly important marketing tool going into 2023. The global augmented reality market is growing at a thriving compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41.50%, positioning it to reach a value of $461.25 billion by 2030, projects a report by Market Research Future.
The report notes that business apps are a major factor driving AR growth and anticipates that as AR usage continues to grow, it will become more integrated with other popular applications. This trend proves that AR content will be a major strategy for companies seeking to accelerate their growth.
AR’s rapid growth as a business tool reflects the fact that it provides a unique and immersive way for companies to engage customers and promote products or services. By creating AR content, businesses can provide more interactive and personalized experiences, promoting engagement, brand recognition, and customer satisfaction, and ultimately driving sales and revenue.
As 2023 unfolds into the future, creating AR content will become even more critical for businesses as adoption increases and more customers expect access to high-quality augmented reality experiences. A business that can meet this demand will gain a competitive advantage and position itself to stay ahead of the curve.
How To Create Augmented Reality Content in Four Steps
The process of creating AR content breaks down into four main steps:
- Research and Planning
- Choosing the Right Augmented Reality Content Creation Tools
- Creating Augmented Reality Content
- Promoting Your Augmented Reality Content
Here’s how to do it:
1. Researching and Planning
The research and planning process starts by defining the purpose of your AR content. For example, are you trying to increase brand awareness, boost engagement, or improve sales conversions for a specific product? Defining your purpose should include specifying your target audience. Make sure to express your goals in terms of measurable key performance indicators.
Another objective of the planning phase is gathering inspiration for content ideas. What types of experiences of your products, services, and brand do you want to convey through your AR content? Consider your brand identity, how customers use your products and services, and what types of AR experiences could help communicate your brand’s value proposition and the benefits of your product and service lines.
For best results, theme your content around a clear concept and storyline. This planning stage helps you deliver a consistent message that lends itself to a narrative format and can be used to group various content under a common theme.
2. Choosing the Right Augmented Reality Content Creation Tools
Once you know what you’re trying to do with your augmented reality campaigns, the next step is choosing the right digital tools to create and distribute your content. To make this decision, you’ll need to consider factors such as which 3D file formats you’ll be using, how big your files will be, where you intend to promote your content, and what devices your audience will use to access your content. For example, some AR file formats are well-suited for web AR display, while others are popular for video game applications.
VNTANA is designed to support a range of popular file formats, including FBX, OBJ, STL, GLB, and GLTF, and to optimize the file size for user-friendly viewing. A web viewer tool makes it easy to embed files in iFrames or APIs for promotion through your digital showroom, eCommerce platform, social media profiles, or gaming engines.
3. Creating Augmented Reality Content
Now, armed with the right tools, the next step is to create your content. A fundamental step is creating and uploading 3D models of products you wish to feature in AR.
On the VNTANA platform, if you already have 3D models, you can simply upload them in bulk, while if you don’t have them, you can capture the images you need by using a 3D scanner or a 3D modeling service. In addition to imagery, your content can include other elements, such as audio and interactive tools.
Creating content is an ongoing process. Over time, you’ll want to track and test your content performance to see what works and doesn’t. This process allows you to optimize your content to ensure it achieves your business goals.
4. Promoting Your Augmented Reality Content
Once your content is created, you can begin publishing and promoting it. Channels you can use to distribute your content include digital website showrooms, eCommerce platforms, social media channels, app stores, and gaming engines.
Successful AR content promotion deploys strategies similar to that used for other marketing and sales campaigns. Use key performance indicators to track your campaign performance so you can make adjustments and improvements and scale up your best-performing campaigns.
Six Best Practices for AR Content Creation
When deploying AR content, following proven best practices will help you get the desired results. Here are six of the most important guidelines to follow when doing AR content marketing:
1. Start with a Clear Objective and Plan for Your AR Content
Keep your end goal at the forefront when developing AR content. What is the objective of your content campaign? Are you trying to build brand awareness, increase social media engagement, and promote a product sales offer? What KPIs will you use to define your goals and benchmarks? Who is the audience for your content? Where can you reach them? What message should your content communicate to them? What actions do you want your audience to take after seeing your content? Focusing on these types of questions and outcomes will help ensure that your content is well-designed to achieve your purpose.
2. Keep User Experience Front of Mind
Augmented reality content is intended to provide users with a more engaging experience, so it’s vital to keep user experience in mind when designing content. Consider what type of experience viewers should have when viewing your product: what they see, how they feel, what they think about your product and brand, and what they do when and after engaging your content.
Make sure your content is user-friendly and easy to access, with manageable file sizes and clear instructions to guide users through their AR experience. Aim to integrate your AR content into marketing campaigns and events that provide your audiences with unique, satisfying, memorable experiences.
3. Use High-Quality Visuals and Audio
The quality of your customers’ AR experience depends on the quality of your content. Use high-quality visuals to make your content realistic, immersive, and engaging. Add elements such as audio to enhance the experience. Consider your products and any packaging when designing and displaying AR content. Ensure all the elements of the experience contribute toward a high-quality impression of your brand and what you sell.
4. Make Use of Interactive Elements
Interactive elements get your audience involved with your AR content and make it more engaging, giving customers a sense of urgency and control. Consider how you can make your content more interactive. For example, you can allow viewers to zoom in on products, view 3D models from different angles, or see products in different styles and colors.
5. Test and Iterate
Test and improve your AR content through successive iterations based on user feedback for best results. You can gather information by tracking how users interact with your content and surveying them about their experience. Based on the feedback you get, continuously update and refresh your content to keep it relevant and engaging for users over time.
6. Leverage Social Media and Other Digital Channels
To maximize the outreach of your AR content campaigns, take an omnichannel approach to content distribution, including social media and other digital channels. Consider ways you can collaborate with promotional partners, such as market influencers, to extend the visibility of your content.
Create AR Content the Easy Way: Transform Your Business with VNTANA
The potential for augmented reality to increase customer engagement and drive sales makes AR an increasingly critical component of today’s digital marketing toolkit. It’s essential to use suitable technology to leverage AR effectively, which supports the creation of high-quality content to grab and hold customer interest.
The VNTANA platform is designed to make it easy for companies to adopt augmented reality and deploy it for increased customer engagement. You can work with our team to develop high-quality 3D models or upload your own content in bulk using simple plug-ins. Your content is automatically optimized to make your files easy for customers to view.
Our web viewer lets you embed content on any platform using iFrames or APIs. Once your content is online, customers can view it on your eCommerce platform or digital showroom, or you can share it through social media and gaming engines.
Schedule a half-hour demo to see how VNTANA can help you deliver high-quality, engaging AR content to turn prospects into customers and keep buyers returning for more business.