How to enhance your email marketing campaigns with augmented reality

Joel Jacovou of Zappar unveils the magic of using augmented reality (AR) in email marketing campaigns for increased open rates and engagement.

Most companies with an active customer base – large or small, B2C or B2B – use emails and email marketing to communicate with their audiences. Companies across the world employ (and invest in) email marketing strategies because email is an effective tool for speaking to individuals in a personalized and efficient way.

The ever-present problem for marketers who specialize in customer relationship management (CRM) and businesses as a whole is to make emails stand out in a crowded inbox.

Smartphones make serving content through email extremely valuable, but what can you offer to customers that will make you stand out from the hundreds of other businesses clamoring for attention?

Why WebAR?

WebAR is a way to create and deploy immersive web-based augmented reality (AR) experiences to web browsers – with no apps or downloads. Using no-code AR tools (like our own ZapWorks Designer) anyone can create an engaging WebAR experience ready to launch from a single link click or by scanning a QR code.

Any marketer knows the pain of trying to create exciting and visually engaging content on restrictive mediums like email. Depending on the email service provider your subscriber is using, some or all of your hard work may be stripped out, distorted or broken in the eyes of the user.

However, with WebAR, any modern smartphone is only a tap away from transporting your email audience directly into a limitless AR experience, and for desktop readers, the idea of scanning a QR code with your phone is now much more commonplace.

With one quick tap or scan, a predictable email can transform into a key piece of communication that your subscribers will love, engage with and forward to their colleagues. But what types of AR experiences are best suited for email?

1. Face-filters

Face-tracked experiences are easy and fast to create and make for great ways to promote a brand or event that is more likely to be shared via selfies.

AR face filter

2. Product visualizations

Helping customers to visualize a product, by placing a digital version of it in the physical space in front of them is something that AR does incredibly well.

AR product visualization

3. Location immersion

Panoramic or virtual portal experiences are incredibly engaging and help customers experience spaces in an immersive and memorable manner.

AR location immersion

The benefits of using AR in your emails

The most obvious benefit is to make your emails irresistible for your audience, driving up opens and clicks. If a user knows they’re about to see something exciting in their inbox, they’ll come back for more.

Suppose you’re launching a brand new, state-of-the-art high-performance running shoe. Would your subscribers rather read through an exhaustive email list of features and scroll through static images, or would the subject line ‘Explore new [brand X] now via augmented reality’, allowing them to learn about the features via their own virtual interactions?

At Zappar we found that a weekly newsletter consistently featuring AR examples had an average 41% open rate compared to 21% on standard newsletters.

We also found that 40% of those who opened the email went on to click or scan the experience (when using a plain-text style).

Email can be a restrictive avenue for communicating visual information. AR can vastly increase the amount of detail, interaction and memorability of your marketing without interfering with your email template or deliverability.

Instead of just telling your audience about a new product with a static image, they can actively experience it in a real-world environment. Celebrating a milestone, campaign or competition? Get your subscribers in on the action with branded face filters that they can then snap and share on social media.

AR email marketing best practices

When you create an AR campaign, a direct link and a QR code image will be generated that will equip you with all you need to get people into your experience via email. Factor in both mobile and desktop readers; include the QR code image to cover all our bases and make sure everyone can rapidly access the content.

Your email should be clear, following through on the promise of the subject line to deliver people to the experience easily.

We found that switching to a plain-text layout email (with QR code image) increased the number of subscribers that went through to the experience in our AR newsletter by 64% over the previous average. So, this interesting prospect for your audience requires less investment in lengthy email copy and fancy layouts.

Remember, the fact that AR experiences can be activated by both physical and digital triggers also means that an above-the-line campaign or in-store activation can be directly supported by (and aligned with) your email communication content.

You can create AR materials and experiences for a single campaign (or multiple) and serve that content to individuals onsite and in emails or messages allowing for a broader range of campaign synergy and cohesiveness.


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