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The introduction of the metaverse is not the unveiling of a magical gateway. It’s not a connectivity game-changer like blockchain technology; it’s not even a new protocol, as it brings together innovations we already see day in and day out.
So should brand leaders pay attention to the metaverse? Absolutely.
Primarily, the metaverse represents a change from a sensory and engagement perspective. The opportunity lies in the ability to enrich and augment the online experience with digital capabilities like navigation, imagery, directional sound or touch simulation. With the potential for a highly enhanced customer engagement channel in hand, here are three steps brands can take to optimize the metaverse.
1. Harness the technology
Products that have traditionally been thought too personal to be purchased online have gained traction through the use of AR and VR. The creation of virtual storefronts on Snapchat, for example, has allowed customers to virtually enter a shop, browse products and even try on shoes. Leveraging current technologies while keeping a keen eye toward newer innovations allows brands to harness the power of current platforms, like AR and VR, while also launching an enriched customer experience within the metaverse. Ray-Ban is an example of a brand that is taking that step, building upon current AR capabilities that allow consumers to virtually try on glasses or create smart glasses designed for interaction in the metaverse.
Innovation is especially critical in today’s digital landscape, where consumers judge any online experience against the main players in the space. No matter the size of a business, the digital experience must meet or exceed the expectations of customers who are used to the speed and service of Amazon. Across industries the same is true. A startup streaming service, for example, won’t survive without the speed, usability and offerings that a generation of Netflix viewers expects. Big platforms set high standards for all, across the board.
2. Meet consumers where they are
Though the metaverse will provide experiences enhanced by environmental connectivity, the major platforms functioning within it will continue to generate their own individual engagement channels. In the way that Facebook is already offering interactive shopping on Instagram — complete with in-app digital storefronts, product tags and checkout options — Amazon could design a virtual mall environment where consumers could walk, browse, choose and order products to be delivered to their doorstep. Five Guys could create a virtual restaurant where customers can check out the menu, speak to a customer service avatar and order food through DoorDash or UberEats. The possibilities are endless.
All that to say that consumers in the metaverse will be more dispersed than ever and will still expect immediate satisfaction. The days of using engagement channels to drive traffic to an ecommerce website are long gone. No matter the channel, today’s online customer wants to learn about a product, swipe to buy it and have it delivered in 24 hours. Brands need to adapt to focus on feeding those opportunities.
3. Create an infinite number of assets
Advertising is the monetization of attention. With consumer touchpoints crossing every channel imaginable and on every device available, that attention is more fragmented than ever; brands need to not only know every platform inside and out, they need to produce what feels like an infinite number of assets to fuel each one successfully. Add to that the customer expectation of top-class experiences regardless of format or network, and impactful digital engagement becomes exponentially more difficult. But it’s also critical if a brand wants to remain relevant; adapting too slowly could mean any business’ demise regardless of previous success — just ask Blockbuster or Toys R Us.
From the user’s standpoint, look within any average household. At any given time, family members can be looking at different devices, engaging in multiple environments, enjoying content tailored to their tastes and behavior patterns. Brands who want to remain top of mind for even five minutes need to work harder than ever to be in the right place, put out the right content and inspire the right engagement. Every aspect is equally critical. The payoff? Those who invest the effort will reap the rewards of a more enriched, engaging customer experience and the brand loyalty it can foster.
To stay in the game and to successfully engage within the metaverse, brands will need to invest their time and budget into strategizing channels and producing an endless amount of content to fuel engagement. They also need to keep that effort funded, which is why CEOs need a full understanding of what’s possible in the new realm. Leaders must know that when digital innovation is moving at 100mph, they’ll want to be in that car, not standing on the side of the road being blown back as it passes by.