With contactless marketing ranging from interactive digital displays to QR Code-based coupons, here are five contactless marketing ideas to consider to help your business grow in the right direction.
Last Updated:  June 2, 2021
Recent events have changed and continue to change the way we shop, work, and interact. The impact has hit small businesses the hardest, and many stores and restaurants have halted operations amid health concerns.
As the economy attempts to find its footing, retail businesses are looking for ways to balance safety and deliver excellent customer service.
Business owners are coming up with creative ways to maintain social distancing and give a personal touch to their services. We see the emergence of augmented reality (AR) enabled navigation maps, contactless menus, and virtual reality-powered test drives.
This guide will look at why contactless marketing is more than just a safety tool and why every business should invest in it.
What is contactless marketing?
Contactless marketing uses technology to limit physical contact between people and products or to eliminate contact. It has emerged as a must-have marketing strategy in the era of social distancing. Aside from ensuring the safety of employees and customers, contactless marketing methods can help improve the overall user experience.
From creating video proposals for prospective customers to using QR codes to promote businesses’ social media accounts, contactless marketing has become popular because of its versatility and potential for creativity, and the obvious safety advantage. One study by Visa estimates that nearly 63% of customers would try a new business if it offered contactless payment options.
Contactless marketing is not confined to contactless cards and digital wallets.
It encompasses the entire in-store experience. From digital displays and menus to customer feedback, it can help a business sustain its operations while ensuring that it observes social distancing protocols.
If you think contactless marketing is only for businesses that aren’t consumer-facing, think again. The restaurant industry, which is among the most interactive sectors, has also started tapping into the potential of contactless marketing. QR code-enabled menus and digital feedback forms have helped the restaurant industry spring back into the business.
With QR codes, Bluetooth, and wifi-enabled experiences, you can turn any phone into your marketing tool. It is also a less intrusive way to showcase your products and offers a seamless customer experience.
Why should your marketing go contactless?
While many businesses have experimented with digital and immersive in-store experiences in the past, they were primarily novelties. However, going contactless has become the only way for many companies to bounce back and offer a safe shopping experience.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of contactless marketing:
Contactless marketing offers a safer way to shop. It keeps people from touching products and other surfaces that might be infected and allows them to practice social distancing by minimizing their contact with staff.
2. Better consumer experience
Contactless marketing allows you to create a better in-store experience. Displays powered by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) allow for more significant interaction with your products without your customers touching them.
Instead of seeking out store employees for information or filling out feedback forms, visitors can simply tap a screen or scan a code. They can explore the store at their own pace with all the functions at the tip of their fingers.
4. Increased speed
Contactless marketing can also help you speed up some in-store functions. For example, the ordering kiosks at McDonald’s allow you to order and pay for your order without spending a second queued up at the counter.
While implementing digital signages and QR codes can involve a substantial initial cash outlay, their operating costs, including training and maintenance, are pretty low and may be outsourced to external vendors. AR and VR experiences are not feasible for all small businesses at this point, but the costs are bound to go down as more companies start adopting them.
For all these reasons, contactless marketing has become a must-have for businesses that want to bounce back from the pandemic and remain competitive. In the next section, we will look at five contactless marketing methods that your business can use to drive sales.
5 contactless marketing methods you can use moving forward
For instance, large companies with a variety of products, like a grocery store chain, may benefit from an AR-powered navigation system and may have no use for interactive displays.
The idea behind using these forms of technology is to add value to the consumer’s experience and ensure their safety.
Depending on how it can help their customers best, brands can choose from various contactless marketing methods.
This section will look at four main ways contactless marketing can help you provide an excellent customer experience that boosts sales while safeguarding your customers and staff.
1. Use AR and VR for more immersive showroom experiences
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are great ways to take your in-store experience up a notch.
According to Retail Dive, spending in the sector crossed $7 billion in 2020 alone, and the increased popularity of AR could lead to broader adoption.
Take a look at the Sampler app (image below) by Converse, which uses AR to help you “try on” the company’s classic sneakers without ever touching them. The AR-enabled app measures your foot, choose the correct size shoe model, and superimposes it on your foot, allowing you to see how different sneakers look with just a swipe of the screen.
AR and VR are essential for businesses that house products that cannot be easily viewed or tested within store premises.
These include furniture, cars, and wall paints. IKEA offers a neat app that allows you to see how a piece of furniture will look in your home. The app enables you to see whether the item is the right fit for your space without the hassle of buying it, assembling it, and then taking it apart again if it doesn’t work.
Companies realize the benefits of an immersive shopping experience that also score points on safety. According to a study by research firm IDC, the industry is expected to be worth $136 billion by 2024.
2. Get customer feedback through contactless forms
Many restaurants and retail establishments first gathered customer feedback using feedback forms, then started using kiosks where consumers could rate their experience by clicking on icons to indicate their level of satisfaction.
However, since health protocols require that we limit the touching of surfaces, feedback kiosks may not be the best way forward. Retailers can use email forms and QR codes to get customer feedback instead.
Platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor have been collecting customer feedback digitally for years now. However, newer methods of getting customer feedback are more focused on individual businesses and provide a more seamless experience that doesn’t involve visiting a separate review site.
QR codes are very versatile. One way to use them is to send the user to a feedback form where they can leave a review. From there, they can share their experience on their social media accounts if they wish. This helps your business build brand awareness and boosts your social media game by allowing your customers to provide real-time feedback about their experience.
You can also use feedback forms in your email marketing and use them to drive continued engagement with your brand after a transaction. Many businesses send a link to the survey and provide customers with an incentive, such as a discount on their next visit, to encourage them to leave a review.
3. Deliver in-store product recommendations with personalized messaging and digital menus
Smartphone technology is your friend when it comes to in-store contactless marketing. You can use it to create a personalized shopping experience for your customers.
For example, New York-based fashion store AdoreMe partnered with StoreAdvise to install an intelligent display in its dressing rooms. The display (image below) allows customers trying on a piece inside the fitting room to request a different color or size. The consumer demands a piece of clothing, and the stylists outside get alerts on their phone and can respond immediately. The store also has a 3D scanner that takes body measurements that can be used to recommend items the next time the customer comes into the store:
Besides providing a more effortless potent shopping experience and in-store product recommendations, you can also use the customer contact information you gather to send personalized promotions to your customers. For example, you might send targeted emails about back-in-stock products, flash sales, or sale previews.
Using customers’ purchase histories, you can create segments to which you can target specific product lines.
According to a study by Segment, about 40% of consumers in the U.S. say that they purchased a more expensive item due to a personalized shopping experience.
A lot of upselling happens even before your customers step into your store, and mobile technology can help promote new things that your customers might not otherwise notice.
4. Offer loyalty discounts and rewards through QR codes
Loyalty programs based on QR codes have become very popular among businesses of all sizes. One study estimates that redeemed QR coupons will cross $5 billion by 2022. You can add a promotional QR code to a sign near your store entrance or at the checkout counter. When a customer scans the QR code, it takes them to a site where they can sign up for your loyalty program.
QR codes can also be a great addition to your social media campaigns for membership programs and rewards. Instead of searching for your company’s page using the Facebook app, someone who scans the code can be taken directly to your brand’s Facebook page. It is convenient and reduces the steps someone needs to take to find and follow you.
However, people won’t scan a QR code just because it’s there. To maximize scan-throughs, include a relevant call-to-action that will encourage customers to whip out their phones and scan the QR code.
Remember to answer the critical question: what’s in it for them? Include benefits such as discount coupons, a free item with their next purchase, or access to exclusive event invites.
Place QR codes strategically, in places that see a lot of foot traffic, or even on product labels. This helps drive conversions without being intrusive.
5. Integrate AR and VR into digital business proposals
You might think of contactless business as a net negative because you cannot present your product or service to companies in person. Still, you can use contactless marketing to create immersive experiences for potential customers.
Incorporating AR or VR into your websites or, even better, presenting your products in website-like business proposals will allow you to showcase your product’s capabilities and give your customers an option to sign and pay online.
A proposal becomes more than just a proposal or a presentation; instead, it offers your prospects an opportunity to select products and services they like and close the deal online.
Aside from giving users a glimpse into your product, AR and VR can help you “customize” products without spending anything on prototypes. They also allow customers to participate in the design and development of their selected solutions in real-time.
Adding AR and VR to your websites or adding similar previews to your business proposals will facilitate the feedback process and help you set and manage customer expectations before they sign a contract.
The bottom line
Users now prefer using contactless marketing methods for safety reasons. Technologies like AR and VR, QR codes, digital menus, and electronic feedback forms are now a must-have for any business that wants to continue thriving while keeping its customers and staff safe.
But contactless marketing isn’t just a fad. It is likely here to stay. It allows marketers and store owners to provide a seamless customer experience, gives you a great way to engage with your customer base, and helps you to expand your brand reach.
By combining various contactless marketing methods with tried and true methods such as email marketing and social media, you can attract even more potential customers and increase your revenue even despite the built-in constraints of social distancing.
Petra Odak is the Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals, a simple yet incredibly powerful proposal software tool that helps you send high-converting, web-based business proposals in minutes. She’s a solution-oriented marketing enthusiast with more than 5 years of experience in various fields of marketing and project management.