What Is a Digital Avatar and How Does It Work?
Discover how an AI digital avatar can engage thousands of more leads, increase customer loyalty, streamline employee onboarding, and more.
Julia Szatar
Julia is the Head of Marketing at Tavus, a developer-first AI video research company powering revolutionary apps in video editing, marketing, sales, and education via APIs.
May 24, 2024

In the blink of an eye, digital avatars have evolved from simple cartoonish novelties to sophisticated, real-life replicas that are reshaping business-customer interactions.

This upward trend shows no sign of stopping. Statista estimates that the global digital avatar market will jump from 65.5 billion USD in 2022 to a massive 936.6 billion USD by 2030. 

Although the metaverse and the gaming world are the key drivers of this growth, businesses have been quick to use them for:

  • Increased engagement through video personalization
  • Improved marketing return on investment thanks to accelerated workflows
  • Higher rates of customer satisfaction with improved response times

If you want to find out how digital avatars work and stay one step ahead of the competition, you’re in the right place. 

What is a Digital Avatar?

A digital avatar is a virtual representation of a real-life human or fictional character. They interact, perform a range of actions, and communicate within the online space, acting as a proxy for an individual or organization in virtual environments. 

Popular in gaming for decades, digital avatars have now made the leap to business. Companies are increasingly using real-life avatars as brand ambassadors for their marketing, customer success, recruitment, and sales efforts. 

For example, Tavus’ groundbreaking Phoenix model generates exceptionally realistic talking head videos, complete with natural face movements and expressions accurately synchronized with the input. This novel approach bypasses traditional methods and constructs dynamic, three-dimensional facial scenes using neural radiance fields (NeRFs).

Now, companies can:

  • Create personalized videos for a more exciting customer journey
  • Market products without hiring an entire video team
  • Enhance employee onboarding processes with multimedia explanations
  • Train teams using digital avatars in a virtual reality environment
  • Guide users around their website with AI-powered virtual assistants
digital video
Digital avatar technology allows sales teams to create personalized videos in no time

How Do Digital Avatars Work?

Digital avatars analyze a range of biometric information, such as the shape of a face, eyes, nose, and mouth, which is used to produce a convincing virtual representation of a real person. This imagery is then combined with natural facial movements and realistic responses to offer an engaging user experience, much like a human interaction. 

While the previous generation of automated business communication relied on rigid, predefined responses, digital avatar AI identifies a user’s intent and mimics contextual awareness and emotional intelligence to improve the customer experience. The result is that companies of all sizes can automate realistic, personalized video content that resonates with their audience. 

Of course, none of this would be possible without a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities working together in harmony.

Text-to-Speech (TTS)

Text-to-speech tech is at the heart of digital avatars. Put simply, it absorbs a text-based script and reproduces it in spoken words. 

Modern text-to-speech technology employs deep learning to closely mimic human speech patterns and intonations, making interactions feel more natural. This adds a huge level of emotion and realism to produce something that robotic voices never can: trust. 

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP is a landmark technology that enables digital avatars to understand and generate human language. The key advantages are that it processes user input, interprets intent, and generates responses with appropriate content and tone.

However, NLP combines user input with wider context, allowing it to participate in realistic conversations and making interactions with a digital avatar more engaging and effective.

Face and Lip Syncing 

Gamers may prefer larger-than-life cartoon representations, but businesses are all about realism. And while it’s easy to create still images of people, generating video has been a much tougher task.

Advanced systems like Tavus’ Phoenix model now ensure that an avatar’s lip movements are both natural and in sync with the spoken output. These innovations in facial movement are essential to creating a convincing talking head video that brings TTS and NLP to life. 

Integration and APIs

APIs allow developers to integrate sophisticated digital avatar systems into their existing apps and platforms. For example, this means businesses can add personalized videos across various customer touchpoints without having to spend endless hours of their developer’s time.

Smart use of integrations means teams can host curated videos specific to each landing page, email campaign, or digital advert. Integrated digital avatars don’t draw attention away from a business’s branded CTAs, color schemes, or URLs. Instead, businesses can add videos with no complex software development and no mention of the avatar generator’s branding. 

How Are AI-Generated Digital Avatars Used?

From expanding sales and marketing campaigns to immortalizing glam rock bands, the applications of digital avatars are enormous. 

There are two main business applications for digital avatars and each can be divided into several sub-applications:

  • One-way outreach to customers, usually in the form of videos that can be embedded on websites, in email marketing, or on social media.
  • Back-and-forth communication, which works best for chatbots, virtual assistants, and customer care. 

Here, we’re going to zoom into some of the specific use cases of digital avatars, revealing the impressive potential of this field in AI. 

Sales and Marketing

Videos combine narrative and visual storytelling with a friendly human face and engage customers on both emotional and cognitive levels, making them one of the most impactful mediums for sales and marketing teams. 

Until now, it has been too time-consuming to consider recording a personal video for each lead. However, virtual avatar technology makes it possible to produce customized videos on a mass scale, slashing the time, effort, and resources spent on creating them. 

Companies that use personalized marketing can raise 40% more revenue than those relying on standard, non-customized messaging. Digital avatars allow organizations to combine personalization with the power of video, opening the door to a seriously powerful sales and marketing tool.

sales and marketing

For example, Tavus’ personalized video software seamlessly integrates with leading CRM systems such as Salesforce and HubSpot, pulling customer data to personalize interactions efficiently. Sales and marketing teams can then automate the sending of their digital avatar videos that greet each lead by their name, discuss products they are interested in, and address their pain points. 

These integrations not only simplify workflows but also ensure that each communication is tailored, enhancing lead conversion rates by providing highly relevant and engaging content.

lead conversion

With Tavus, the digital avatars look and sound so realistic that each user feels like they’re getting a tailor-made video just for them, rather than a generic one-size-fits-all marketing spiel. This is an innovative new way of fostering loyalty without the Herculean task of recording footage for every contact in your sales funnel. 

Want to try it for yourself? Make your digital replica with Tavus today. 

Online Teaching and Training 

Digital avatars blow text-based teaching out of the water by customizing lessons, providing feedback, and doubling down on tricky subjects, just like a teacher-to-student dynamic. Unlike rigid virtual teaching assistants with predefined responses, AI avatars create a more interactive environment that adapts to each learner’s preferences. 

Drawing on vast knowledge bases, businesses can train their teams in emerging skills and save a significant sum on external hires. Whether it’s soft skills, technical tutorials, or compliance, each learner can work through material with their customized teacher and see their progress as they complete tasks.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of avatars in teaching and training is the availability of high-quality education at any time and in any place. This makes it far more accessible for less fortunate demographics and gives people the opportunity to take training sessions wherever and whenever it suits them.

Onboarding and Customer Success 

Digital avatars that use NLP significantly enhance user experience, which is why 68% of US organizations use AI in their hiring and onboarding processes. When a user hits a sticking point, they can ask for help from an avatar and get accurate, context-aware responses that remove blockers. Offering real-time feedback and support, companies can accurately monitor the progress of new hires and provide refresher courses for difficult areas.

Similarly, businesses can leverage avatars to onboard new clients. After a human-to-human welcome, AI takes over to guide clients through the onboarding process, reporting on completion rates and flagging difficult topics. 

As reactive customer service transforms into proactive customer success, digital avatars are on the frontline, offering tips and tricks to get the most out of a company’s products and services. An avatar’s ability to provide personalized support, troubleshooting, and recommendations capacities is sure to have a significant impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Virtual Assistants

Who wouldn’t want a 24/7 personal secretary who schedules appointments, manages emails, and offers company training? 

With an AI-based virtual assistant, users enjoy natural, engaging interactions, rather than adapting their communication to the algorithm’s needs. AI avatars can mimic a specific personality that complements the user’s working style, and as time goes on, they learn the schedule, habits, and preferences of their human. So, after a long, hard day, a short voice recording gives the digital avatar all it needs to lay out tomorrow’s priorities and set notifications and alarms.

Businesses have also begun leveraging virtual assistants to guide users around their websites and offer customer support. Banks, for example, have introduced digital avatars as the first line of customer service. These virtual assistants can provide fast, accurate responses and point to more comprehensive information on processes like blocking a card, changing personal data, and investing. 

Virtual Reality

The Meta Avatar Store offers stylized versions of users. Tavus creates a lifelike replica.

Virtual reality (VR) applications allow users to become digital avatars in virtual meetings, social interactions, and of course, gaming environments. This virtual world is an ideal training ground for improving presentation skills, becoming more assertive, or simply defeating the final boss in a video game. 

With programs as far-reaching as medical surgery, DE&I situational training, and public speaking, VR avatars provide continuous training for teams — and the results are impressive. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, VR trainees learn up to four times faster and feel more confident than their e-learning and classroom counterparts. 

Virtual reality comes into its own in collaborative events such as online conferences, providing an immersive environment rather than faceless text communication or one-to-one video calls. As a training tool, VR technology can be personalized to work on an individual’s specific weaknesses for a more effective, less general experience. 

Furthermore, real-time feedback gives an immediate sense of achievement, increasing the likelihood of long-term engagement. 

How to Create a Digital Avatar

The potential of digital avatars is exciting, but knowing how to create one is essential to reap the benefits. Luckily, despite the complexity of online avatar technology, it’s surprisingly easy to make your own model.

Here, we’re going to give you a rundown for businesses to build their first digital avatar.

1. Choose an AI-generated Digital Avatar Maker

There are plenty of tools on the digital avatar market, and the difference in quality is vast. So what are the most important factors when choosing an avatar generator?

  • Avatars that look real are more convincing for businesses than cartoon representations
  • Voice cloning and lip-syncing add to the realism and improve authority
  • Platforms featuring APIs for easy integration with third-party apps
  • Comprehensive customization options and integration capabilities
  • An easy-to-use interface backed by real-life testimonials

In a rapidly advancing sector, the best AI-generated digital avatar makers are those who are consistently at the forefront of the latest tech—like Tavus. 

Tavus’ Replica API tool enables developers and companies to create unique digital avatars that can be integrated into their existing apps and platforms. The proprietary Phoenix model transforms a written script into hyper-realistic talking head videos for improved training and learning apps, sales and marketing campaigns, product onboarding materials, and social media posts. 

But that’s not all. Tavus dubs videos into 30 different languages, maintaining faithful voice and lip movements. Able to create millions of customized videos in seconds, this technology gives small, ambitious businesses the chance to scale up and connect with global markets

Discover for yourself how to leverage the Phoenix model for your company. 

2. Upload a Clear Photo or Video

Avatar AI needs raw materials to work from, so most tools request a photo or video to form a basis for the virtual avatar. The facial features and voice are now the template for future videos.

Again, the quality between apps varies considerably. At the top end of the scale, Tavus’ Phoenix model creates dynamic, three-dimensional facial representations based on neural radiance fields (NeRFs). This offers an unparalleled level of realism in AI-generated videos for sales, training, customer support, and much more.

3. Customize Your Features

Similar to personalized email marketing, you can include variables in your video scripts with APIs like Tavus’ Replica tool which grabs CRM fields such as a customer’s first name, city of residence, or product purchased, and include them in the video. No need to re-record for each individual—Tavus creates hundreds or even millions of tailored videos in a matter of seconds. 

Set the scene by editing the background of a video to drive more conversions. Adding a URL will map a scrolling screenshot of a client’s website, a LinkedIn page, or a product demo that is relevant to the viewer’s interests. 

The more relevant the video, the higher the level of customer engagement.

4. Save and Use Your Avatar

Once an avatar exists, companies can submit fresh scripts and launch new campaigns in an instant. Forget a one-size-fits-all pitch that will sit gathering dust in your lead’s inbox. Instead, create customized content using your exact face and voice for a human connection that drives action. 


Grow Your Business With AI-Generated Videos

The digital avatar journey may be in its early days, but its potential is huge. And the best part is that it's easy to get started. 

Tavus’ digital avatar technology has already helped companies including Salesforce and Meta to achieve: 

  • 10x higher engagement 
  • 2.5x boost to email click-through rates
  • 3x jump in response rates
  • 500x return on marketing investment
  • 85% increase in viewers’ decision to purchase

Want to get in on the action? 

Create endless digital avatar videos in minutes with Tavus’ Replica API and see how personalized communication can turbocharge your business. 

Get started with Tavus

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