Verge writer Brian Bishop recently gave readers a peek inside HBO’s immersive Westworld: The Experience at 2017 Comic-Con International. As with most immersive event experiences, Westworld: The Experience drew fans in and didn’t let go. Much like the award-winning television show’s surface plot, it introduced adventurous attendees to a compelling fictional performance piece that gives new meaning to the idea of real-time customer service.
It should come as no surprise that a promotion for a television show about redefining the customer experience through state-of-the-art technology can spark real-world application conversations. Savvy event organizers and brand ambassadors can learn valuable marketing lessons from Westworld: The Experience, like how to captivate and engage a targeted audience, and digital signage solutions can help turn any average customer experience into an immersive one.
Contemporary Customer Service is An Increasingly Immersive Experience
The consumer experience has changed. The customer is always right has turned into the customer is always right now. We live in a connected world, and consumers in a modern digital age are as responsible for how businesses craft their customer experience as the businesses themselves. Consumers are no longer content with one-and-done interactions. Today, customers are part of the family, connecting with brands through increasingly immersive avenues. Engaging technologies and tactics aimed at creating immersive event experiences—gamification, social media outreach, digital wayfinding, virtual reality—have all made their way into the smart marketer’s toolbox. It’s your job as a brand ambassador or event organizer to know when and where to use the right tool or tactic.
Jumping on the Right Technology Bandwagon
Consumers don’t hesitate to dismiss shady marketing methods and grab-for-your-wallet gimmicks, so when creating an immersive customer experience, it’s important to understand advanced technology isn’t the end-all answer. Bishop points out in his article that brands have always been quick to jump on new technology bandwagons as they roll by to catch the attention of potential customers, but that’s not the smartest way to do business.
Instead, it’s best to choose your technology bandwagons wisely. Complementing brand and business strengths by employing appropriate immersive technological solutions can be a game-changer.
- Downloadable apps: It seems like every business and their company mascot has their own downloadable app. Again, don’t create an app simply because other brands have them, but instead realize that offering a downloadable app can be an effective way to enhance the customer experience. Creating an app for business adds a new, immersive angle through which consumers can engage with your brand.
- Virtual tours: Virtual reality technology seems to have found solid ground atop which it plans to build countless immersive business opportunities. One of those worth adding to the marketing toolbox is the notion of virtual touring, whether that be through a building, around an event, or across a distant countryside.
- Digital wayfinding: Wayfinding is not novel technology. Some form or another has helped guide patrons from Point A to Point B for decades—from old mall maps to new interactive kiosks—but modern digital signage solutions influence how architectural designers build for the intended visitor experience.
- Real-time interaction: Immersive event experiences interact with visitors and pull their attention out of reality and into whatever state the creator intended. Businesses can learn much from this. We may not have reached a point where advertising billboards call out your name as you pass, but real-time interaction is one way event organizers, tech-savvy marketers, and profit-driven gaming companies create more immersive customer experiences. Real-time immersive interactions can include location-based discounts, live contests, and rewards based on proximity to a specified waypoint (think Pokemon Go or even Geocaching).
Digital signage solutions, in their wide range of shapes and sizes, have evolved to incorporate features like downloadable apps, tours, wayfinding, virtual reality and more to improve aspects of the customer experience in innovative and exciting ways.
Enhancing Consumer Routines with Immersive Technology
Event organizers that aren’t careful may one day take the immersive technology train down dangerous tracks toward an oversaturated, overcomplicated digital space. Can you imagine one day attending an event filled with virtual advertisements and in-your-face digital marketing messages resembling a world like the one envisioned by artist Keiichi Matsuda in his video Hyper-Reality? Immersion overload, right?
Much like the point of immersive event experiences, the objective of creating an immersive customer experience, especially in spaces used for events like business conferences, seminars, conventions, sports, and concerts, should be to enhance the experience without interrupting it.
The medium should never overshadow the message. That’s why it’s crucial when converting static spaces into immersive customer service destinations (through the use of technology like digital signage), to do so in a way that enhances the regular consumer routine without completely disconnecting them from reality.
Digital signage used to create immersive event experiences for business — such as product promotion — should be designed to drive attendance, sell products, and provide useful information. Remember, just because you can do something in the marketing world doesn’t mean you have to.
If your goal is to invest in digital signage to display the date and time and nothing more, maybe it’s time to rethink your goals. Immersive customer experiences driven by technology need to engage, enthrall, and leave consumers and attendees wanting more. The best way to instill that sense of connection is to blend authentic brand messaging with exciting technology to enhance (not disrupt) consumer routines.
Learning from Immersive Event Experiences is the New Marketing 101
Business events, conventions, concerts, and all the in-between gatherings that attract more than a handful of people seem to lean toward a shared experience over an isolated one. Social media helps create the kinds of immersive event experiences that get people talking, encourages attendees to share, and immerse others in the experience, and event organizers use technology solutions to expertly insert themselves into the conversation.
Fear of missing out (also known as FOMO), contributes to our culture of interconnectivity, with angst and excitement over product releases, event announcements, and missed opportunities shared the world over. This kind of immersive understanding of how consumers connect to each other and the brands they buy from enforces the notion that we’re living in the era of the customer is right now.
If businesses can use technology like digital signage solutions to bridge the gap between consumer needs and brand offerings, especially through immersive event experiences, then they can easily build brand loyalty.