How Marketers Should Prepare for the Metaverse

PHOTO: DanRentea

The metaverse is a hot topic. For those unfamiliar, the concept of a metaverse dates back to 1992, when author Neal Stephenson coined it in his novel “Snow Crash.”

In the novel, the avatars coexist in 3D virtual realities, living and interacting in a hyper-real alternate world. The Metaverse, in simple terms, is a network of virtual digital worlds that co-exist with today’s physical world – where digital avatars or digital representations of humans can work, live and play.

This “next iteration” of the Internet is poised to reach an 800 billion market size by 2024. How will this revolutionize marketing, and what should marketers do from the standpoint of customer experience as they move to the metaverse?

The idea of ​​a digital universe coexisting with everyday physical life is going to be difficult to conceptualize and grasp for certain parts of the population. And even among those who understand the concept of metaverse, naysayers will exist to argue that metaverse is just another fad.

It reminds me of social media circa 2007-2010, when many marketers didn’t see the point in participating. Yet, we are only 12 short years later with social media becoming an integral part of daily life for a large majority of the world’s tech-using population. The metaverse will revolutionize marketing in the same way.

So what should marketers be thinking about right now?

Encourage engagement

Generation Z and digital natives will not hesitate to engage in the metaverse. After all, many of them have been participating in metaverses like Minecraft, Fortnite, Roblox, and others since they were kids. But how do you engage older consumers (whose closest experience with a metaverse was the Legend of Zelda in the early 1990s)?

What should marketers consider?

  • Provide a value exchange to attract hesitant consumers to the metaverse. Offer something of value – special services, rewards, discounts, etc.
  • Consider ways to leverage the metaverse to better engage consumers, perhaps in a way that’s preferred over current methods. This could take the form of a new virtual product or an experience or program launch. Epic Games has been very successful in this regard by attracting users to their Fortnite metaverse by offering live events that allow for virtual customer engagement and active participation.
  • Be prepared to test and learn. Experiment, iterate, and continually improve as the great metaverse grows and grows.
  • Create specific teams and roles that focus on enabling and supporting the metaverse. This will include helping consumers access your part of the metaverse and teaching them how to engage and interact, by providing a virtual tour guide in avatar form. Companies are already hiring for these jobs today.
  • A caveat here, however, is to NOT treat the metaverse as something separate – like a separate channel – from a customer engagement perspective, but rather as the immersive and experiential layer of a digital world in evolution.

Related article: For Facebook, it’s Metaverse or Bust

Create a goal-driven customer journey

When thinking about how you want to create and manage the customer journey that exists between your brand and your customer, there are several things to keep in mind. It’s easier to look at them from both a customer perspective and brand benefits.

From the customer POS. As your organization learns more about the metaverse and how to engage customers in it, it’s also important to consider what self-contained and blended customer journeys that involve the metaverse will look like:

  • How will customers move from traditional channels (email, web, mobile) to metaverse and vice versa?
  • How immersive will the experience be and what advantage will one environment have over the other?
  • If we consider customer experiences today and their trend, we know that consumers want more self-service options, more on-demand experiences, and more empathetic transactions. Customer support and problem resolution are now expected in real time instead of days or weeks. Incorporate these customer elements from day one in the Metaverse, and your customers won’t be disappointed.

From the POV brand. For brands, entering the metaverse early will allow you to refine and improve this new blended customer experience while building customer loyalty and reducing overall cost to service:

  • By using new and different support and engagement models that focus on minimizing customer effort (the amount of effort a digital avatar must expend to complete a task or solve a problem), brands will be able to measure metrics such as Customer Effort Score to measure the success of their customer experience efforts and their customer journey maps.
  • From an advertising perspective, the metaverse will be an opportunity to increase ad revenue. The metaverse will provide an environment for brands to interact with avatars through brand touchpoints.

Related article: Facebook rebranding embraces the metaverse, but not everyone is convinced

Make time for data transparency

As consumers begin to get to grips with the idea of ​​the metaverse, data integration, sharing, and security must be a priority. Consumers will want to know how their data is stored, shared and secured. With that in mind, follow these simple steps:

  • Be transparent and upfront, communicate early and often how first-party data is being used.
  • Let consumers know that data interconnection will be necessary for compelling digital experiences between the metaverse and the existing environments in which they interact.
  • And on the brand side, certainly prepare for the high level of data integration between applications, environments, and ecosystems that will be required to support the establishment of a complete metaverse experience.

The metaverse is taking off at a rapid pace in 2022. Soon we will all have digital twins that will exist in a collective, shared virtual space called the metaverse.

Just as social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and interact, the metaverse will change the way brands engage and the way customers experience. Start thinking now about how you want to embrace this new environment as it becomes mainstream over the next few years.

Jonathan Moran covers global product marketing activities at SAS, with a focus on customer experience and marketing technologies. Prior to SAS, Jon had over 20 years of experience in the marketing and analytics industry at Earnix and Teradata Corporation in pre-sales, consulting and marketing roles.

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