How can you introduce the metaverse into your B2B marketing strategy?
Being innovative in marketing has always been important, and you don’t get much more forward-thinking than marketing in the metaverse. But how can you tailor your B2B marketing to work in this seemingly unknown space that will undoubtedly become the new normal? In this blog we will explore use cases for industrial marketing in the metaverse.
What is the metaverse?
For those unfamiliar with the metaverse, it’s a virtual space that allows users to immerse themselves in fully customisable landscapes that completely negate the rules of the physical world, and many well-known brands are already using it to reach consumers in entirely new ways.
For example, in fashion, the metaverse has become such a talking point that they’ve created a new Fashion Week for the first time since 1984: “The Metaverse Fashion Week”. The Metaverse Fashion Week took place for the first time in March 2022, where designers showcased their clothes at the show in a virtual space called Decentraland. This year, it featured designers such as Adidas, Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY and Coach, and allowed more people than ever to have a front-row seat at collections from some of the biggest designers in the world.
Augmented reality, virtual reality and the metaverse
When talking about the metaverse, it’s important to define two more key advancements in the digital world, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
In AR, an image is superimposed onto someone’s real-world view. This could be done with lights, projections, or through the use of computer-generated images and cameras. An example of AR being used in manufacturing can be seen with LightGuide, where precise lights are projected onto a machine, giving technicians a perfect outline to follow when making repairs. AR has multiple uses, but unlike the metaverse, it brings digitalisation into our own world, whereas the metaverse submerges someone into a completely new and virtual space.
On the other hand, VR uses a headset with pose tracking and 3D near-eye displays to immerse you into a simulation of a completely new world. VR is a technology that the video game industry has already started to capitalise on, with more and more games being released with VR capabilities every year. In fact, PlayStation has a total of 672 VR games, which are either upcoming or have already been released.
Of the two, VR is the closest to the metaverse. In fact, VR technology plays a significant part in the metaverse, but it will still just be one aspect of a very large platform.
According to James Howell, these are the main differences between the metaverse and virtual reality:
|Criteria||Metaverse||Virtual Reality (VR)|
|Technology||The metaverse draws from a variety of technologies, such as AR, VR, decentralisation, and connectivity technologies, for a completely interactive experience. It also has the openness to integrate new technologies.||VR is a limited technology that can only simulate 3D environments|
|Experiences||Users can access a wide variety of experiences in the metaverse||Users are limited to the experience dictated by the VR system or game.|
|Persistence||The metaverse is a persistent virtual world that is shared with everyone, and it will exist even when you’re not in the metaverse.||The VR experience will end once the user turns off their VR headset.|
The metaverse is predicted to expand (or even replace) the internet as a completely new way to socialise, work, play and exchange information.
Examples of The metaverse in b2b industrial marketing
Engineers and manufacturers have been some of the first to develop their own spaces in the metaverse by creating the Industrial Metaverse, which is a metaverse sector that focuses on mirroring real machines, factories, cities, transportation networks, and other highly complex systems in fully immersive and interactive simulations.
Use cases for the industrial metaverse:
- Immersive learning spaces - Virtual rooms can be used to train employees in operating and maintaining machines or systems without having to start up the physical equipment. This reduces the risk of accidents and simplifies the training procedure as a large number of trainees can learn from a small number of instructors or even remotely. Immersive technology also makes training much more engaging and effective, as opposed to just watching a training video, as the training centre of Deutsche Bahn shows in the example below:
- Remote support during repairs and maintenance - The Industrial Metaverse allows businesses to mend and maintain their equipment remotely without the need to call out a specialist. All they would need to do is connect to the field workers' smart glasses and offer precise instructions. An example of this comes from HP, where a Microsoft HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset was used by a technician called Boon Leong in Malaysia. He was joined remotely by Karen Ng, an HP expert in Singapore, who guided him through fixing the stalled industrial printer. Boon Leong was quoted as saying, “It’s so surreal, I can see everything”.
- Digital Twins and Simulations - Digital Twins are an exact digital prototype of an engineered concept that simulates how it would work before it’s even constructed. This also means that any issues can be detected and dealt with in the digital engineering space instead of being found and solved once the product has been built, allowing for fully virtual development factories. In fact, The BMW Group was one of the first to open a fully virtual factory, called the iFACTORY, using the NVIDIA Omniverse. They feel the iFACTORY has “set new standards for production that will meet growing customer demand for electric vehicles, while also making a significant contribution to climate protection and sustainability”
- Virtual collaboration - The pandemic showed us all that face-to-face interaction is not always achievable or necessary, and the world has adapted to a more remote working style ever since. Through the metaverse, constant collaboration throughout the production process is possible. Product developers, designers, and engineers can stay in direct communication with each other throughout the process and can work in a virtual factory environment no matter where they are in the world.
Getting on board with technological advancements such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence should be a priority for any B2B engineering and manufacturing company. It will give you a competitive advantage and position your brand as forward-thinking and innovative to potential customers.
THE FUTURE OF B2B MARKETING IN THE METAVERSE
We say the 'future', but in reality, the metaverse is happening now. Why should you be an early adopter, and how can you get started?
Virtual event spaces:
One way your brand can harness the metaverse is to create a virtual showroom for prospective customers. Similar to in-person trade shows like MACH, SubCon, Advanced Engineering, and Southern Manufacturing, your company could display its products immersively in its own 3D space, free for consumers to explore using software like Spatial and Mixed Reality Rooms.
Mixed Reality Rooms is a virtual meeting space that is breaking boundaries. It aims to break down engagement barriers between consumers and brands. They define themselves as a platform “for B2B marketers that want to create and deploy scalable, structured gamified experiences across the marketing funnel to become memorable, build pipeline, and accelerate deal flow.” Their approach to the metaverse is definitely something worth exploring for your B2B communications going forward, as their users have reported 10 times more account engagements and interactions since its implementation.
Changing the buyer experience and maintaining customer loyalty:
The metaverse has the capability to change all aspects of business, even the buyers' experience. The B2B buyers process can be lengthy, with multiple stakeholders and decision-makers involved; more research is often involved before making a buying decision. B2B marketers can expedite the process by creating fully immersive buyer experiences. Customers can interact with your product in the metaverse, helping them understand its value more easily and increasing sales conversions.
Not only does it help convert sales, it also helps to maintain customer loyalty. Say goodbye to phone lines and dodgy chatbots. With the metaverse, you can now create your very own digital waiting room where customers can review displayed case studies while waiting for a member of your team to meet them virtually. It’s a golden opportunity to leave a memorable impression on those who matter most, and the possibilities really are endless.
A new way to collect data:
The metaverse will also give marketers a whole new platform to collect and harness consumer data. This will be a highly valuable asset, as brands are constantly seeking to create personalised user experiences for their customers. Not only will we be given verbal or written feedback, but the metaverse will also allow us to track previously untrackable data, like body language. Mastercard’s chief privacy offer Catherine Louveaux recently wrote that “the metaverse will be data collection on steroids”, and data has always been something that marketers can use to their advantage.
New challenges and room for creativity:
With more uses and technological advances being made every day, the opportunities created by the metaverse are unending. As marketers explore a world their typical marketing strategies may not translate into, there will be new challenges. But that also gives scope for creativity and new marketing strategies. For example, content will be more interactive than other channels, as the limitless and imaginative metaverse will demand more interactivity from your content in order to stand out from your competition.
Watch this space - our team are exploring the metaverse for our clients' marketing campaigns.
If you need help with your B2B marketing, let's talk.