The competition between online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores is as fierce as ever, and as technology grows, so do the ways in which the marketing experience evolves.

Real-time interactions have power over online experiences because they can grab attention through all five senses. But online marketing campaigns can harness some of that power with immersive techniques in ways we have yet to fully realize, and it’s more than adding a funny filter to your Snapchat photo.

While smell is widely believed to be our strongest sense thanks to its link to our memory centers, sight and sound are very powerful in the ways our attention is captured.

The strains of a song block out all other distractions.

Light and color render us speechless.

And all of our senses are closely tied, so where one is lacking, the others pick up the slack.

Even if an online recipe for bread cannot snag our attention with fresh baking smells, we can see steam rising from it, or hear the crackling of the crust, and imagine the smell and flavor bursting over our tongues, compelling us to make it a reality by baking it ourselves.

So how do you immerse your customers in an online experience so powerful they feel as though they’re in the same room with you?

Immersive Online Marketing

Perhaps the most obvious industries in which immersive online marketing is achieved are the beauty and fashion industries. Why? Because these products typically require real-time interaction in order to make the decision to purchase. Does that fabric have the right drape? Is this shade of lipstick too bright? Will those pants fit? These have long been questions that couldn’t be answered online. But now they can.

Modiface has found a way to showcase their products in a way that allows their customers to “try them on” using augmented reality. Not only have they partnered with Facebook to create a chatbot to help people find shades of lipstick that work better with their skin tone via profile pictures, they’ve branched into hair colors of all shades. The user is prompted to turn their face this way and that while varying tones of hair color change as they move, allowing them to experience a new shade with all the confidence and none of the commitment.

Experience the Possibilities

At first, it would seem the fashion and beauty industries are the only ones that would benefit from this type of marketing goldmine, but consumers make choices about everything in their lives, and those choices are just waiting for immersive marketing innovation. Want to remodel your kitchen? Rather than imagining which pieces from a showroom full of thousands of options would look best in your space, Lowe’s can give you a virtual room to play with, where you can see your new kitchen in situ.

But how can you immersively experience decisions such as buying a car? Volvo has you covered. By hovering your smartphone camera over the options in their augmented reality app, you can get behind the wheel on a track that superimposes itself over your real-time environment.

The Power of 360°

Perhaps one of the most inventive tools in the immersive marketing arsenal is the 360° photo or video. People were riveted by the all-encompassing view from the Mars Rover provided by NASA, but that’s NASA. It wouldn’t be possible to use such extensive technology for something mundane on Earth, right?

Wrong.

Travel and real estate companies have been capturing stunning views the world over to put prospective buyers in the moment of majesty. Tour your vacation rental home at the moment the expansive waterfront view presents itself, or stand on the balcony of your potential future home overlooking your lawn and garden.

Cinematography has evolved so much in recent years that we can get jaw-dropping, stomach swooping views that put us in the middle of it all from the safety from our homes. Just ask NatGeo, who’s 360° tours of the world’s most exciting places have amassed millions of hits on YouTube.

Whatever your industry, the possibilities are endless with a little imagination and the right augmentation.

If you can imagine it, you can find a way your customers don’t have to, by putting them in the midst of your product experience. What once would have seemed like magic is now entirely possible in the technology age.