It’s a brave new virtual world for B2B marketing.
In 2021, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger’s parent company (confusingly named The Facebook Company up until that point) renamed itself Meta. The move signalled in a big way that the metaverse was worth investing in. Before that – and since then – there has been a wide range of products designed for the metaverse targeting consumers. Multiverse apps, games and other business-to-consumer experiences are not hard to find, but we haven’t seen as many business-to-business solutions.
So, we had to ponder: is there a future for B2B marketing in the metaverse, and if so, what does it look like?
No big deal or the next big thing?
Let’s start with a loose definition of the metaverse. It is a virtual world that is parallel to the physical one we live in. The metaverse is built around technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, NFTs and decentralised currencies, and its inhabitants are digital avatars created by real people. It’s kind of like Wreck-It Ralph meets The Matrix meets several episodes of Black Mirror. Confused? You should be.
You’re unlikely to find a comprehensive definition of what the metaverse is or isn’t because it’s still in its formative years. In the 80s, we said the Internet was a supernetwork of computers – a definition that does not do it justice by today’s standards. Similarly, we will continue to hone the definition of the metaverse as it develops. For now, all you have to remember is that it’s a virtual realm with potential.
But the fact that it’s new hasn’t stopped tech companies from tinkering with it. Some early adopters of the metaverse include Second Life, Meta Horizon, Fortnite, Decentraland and The Sandbox. So far, the metaverse is being used mainly for entertainment purposes as a consumer-focused space where people can live out their virtual lives. The Covid-19 pandemic is somewhat responsible for speeding up the adoption of the metaverse by giving people a place to connect immersively without actually meeting up.
According to Precedence Research, the metaverse will be worth $1.6 trillion by 2030. So, while its applications seem fun and experimental right now, there’s serious money to be made in the future.
To be or not to B2B?
Now back to our earlier question – where does B2B fit into the multiverse? We’re not the first to wonder about this; several of the early adopters mentioned above are already working on applications targeted at businesses. Here are four of the most basic ways B2B marketers can leverage the metaverse as a channel.
- Trade shows. The pandemic already showed us that online events work. They enable people from all over the world to meet and share ideas while saving on travelling and hosting costs. Now, imagine if they weren’t just based on video conferencing but were fully three-dimensional digital experiences. Attendees would use their avatars to explore the trade show and virtually walk from stalls to showrooms interacting with exhibitors and other attendees.
- Sales consultations. The metaverse can help increase sales through virtual sales assistants. Most B2B leads are high-ranking decision-makers in their organisations with not much spare time on their hands. Sales consultants can meet with them virtually to conduct complex product demonstrations and give personalised advice that gets them closer to sealing deals and adding value.
- Training. Industries such as engineering, construction and mining can benefit from creating virtual training programmes that are true to life without running the same real-world risks.
- Brand awareness. Imagine if your brand could sponsor a metaverse event or showcase in-game/in-world advertising without actually selling anything in the metaverse. It’s like having a billboard on a highway, except the highway is online.
Ready Player One
Here’s our take.
The metaverse is a virtual frontier race that is already underway. There’s no question that the metaverse has immeasurable utility for B2B marketing, but you have to have a plan. Joining the metaverse for the sake of it could prove expensive and ultimately fruitless without a strategy. The metaverse is more engaging than any other platform currently available, which is why consumers are so drawn to it. But how can you turn that engagement into something valuable for businesses too? When you can answer that question, you have your entry point.
You can also play it safe and take the wait-and-see approach. Let the risky disruptors get in there and make all the early mistakes that you can learn from. This allows you to build on the progress of others, leveraging tested technology and carving your own niche with a strategy you’re confident will work. Whatever approach you choose, the one thing you can’t afford to do as a B2B marketer is to ignore the metaverse completely.
We’re already thinking about how we can get our clients ROI in the metaverse, and we can do the same for you. Learn more about our digital marketing solution and get in touch with us when you’re ready to dream a little bigger for your brand.