“Technically speaking (here comes the jargon): A 360 Walkthrough Virtual Tour is a collection of 360-degree panoramic rotating images, “stitched” together to form a full, 360° view of a location. Special cameras, lenses, technology, and methods are used to bring a tour together into a visual experience for the viewer.”

What Is a 360 Walkthrough Virtual Tour?

While the definition of a 360 walkthrough virtual tour above (from Google by the way), is accurate, a virtual tour means a LOT more to your local small business and how it helps your business grow.

A 360 walkthrough virtual tour of your business, no matter what type of business it it, is a method of showcasing your retail store, professional office, residential or commercial property, your products or services, construction site, venue, or park to prospective customers or clients.

Need to attract new customers for your restaurant, coffee shop, or retail store? A tour will showcase it online. Want to keep clients apprised of progress on a construction site or project? Send them periodic 360 walkthroughs to show them how things are going. Would you like to attract couples looking for a wedding venue by showing the beauty of yours? Provide them a professionally produced tour of your facility with a lead form attached. There are endless ways to promote your business online with a 360 walkthrough virtual tour!

The opportunity to generate new business online has never been easier or more important for local businesses, and walkthrough virtual tours are an exciting and effective new way to do it!

Why Do Online Searchers Love Virtual Tours?

People looking for your local business, product, or service online absolutely LOVE 360 walkthrough virtual tours! A tour gives them a chance to look all around inside or outside your business location at their own pace and to look at what they want!

According to an Oxera study, 44% of consumers now use Maps when searching for goods and services, 41% of those searches result in an on-site visit from the searcher, and business listings online with photos and virtual tours are TWICE as likely to generate interest than those without.

The facts speak for themselves; people LOVE virtual tours when searching for a business, product, or service.

What Can Your Business Do With a 360 Walkthrough Virtual Tour?

All this is nice, but what you really want to know is, “What can a virtual tour do for MY business?”  Well let’s look at a few examples!

Viewer Engagement for Marketing

A walkthrough virtual tour will engage your viewers and give them a more immersive experience than just photos or words. Virtual tours are more personal and naturally attract viewers, allowing them to explore and discover things about your company at their own pace.

Online Marketing

Your virtual tour can be loaded straight into Google Street View which means that, when a searcher sees your business location on Google Maps, they can virtually “walk-in” right from the street view and look around inside your business!

You can share your virtual tour anywhere that you market your business. You can use a link in any marketing materials that you already use. You can embed the tour directly into your business website. You can use a link to showcase your virtual tour in your social media marketing posts and email marketing campaigns You can show your virtual tour just about anywhere!

Virtual tours give great value when added to your local business marketing plans, and the Return On Investment is huge!

Lead Generation

A lead generation tool can be added to your tour allowing you to capture viewers contact info directly. When a viewer is in your virtual tour they will be able to enter whatever you ask them for (name, email address, phone number) during the tour, allowing you to capture that lead and act on it immediately.

Would being able to show your locations, products, or services to someone far away, in REAL TIME, benefit your business or sales team? Having on demand live virtual tours available for prospects can greatly increase your lead generation and sales conversions. Retirement home facilities, elderly care facilities, apartment complexes, residential or commercial property sales or leasing companies, real estate agents and brokers, home builders, automobile dealers all can use virtual tours in real time.

For example, a searcher who lives in Chicago has a parent who lives in California who needs to find a retirement villa to live in. The child in Chicago can get on a virtual tour in real time with a sales agent from the facility as well as the parent far away and virtually “tour” that facility together! They can ask questions, control the screen to look at features of the property and get a feel for the amenities, all while your sales agent is interacting with them!

Or maybe someone is looking for a specific car, truck, or recreational vehicle, and the model they are looking for is in stock at a dealer, but it is too far to travel to see it. The dealers’ sales team can do a virtual tour of the vehicle, with the buyer, in real time, and close the sale right there!

For these types of businesses, LIVE virtual tours are INVALUABLE!

Project Management

Do you have a need in your industry to manage physical projects from afar? For example, do you need to monitor the progress of a construction project but don’t have the ability to visit the job site regularly? You can have a virtual tour photographer send you virtual tours shot at specific points in the project and you and your team can monitor it all online.

Residential and Commercial Real Estate

If your company sells or leases any type of property or real estate, virtual tours are a very effective and inexpensive way to showcase those properties all over the world! A properly produced walkthrough virtual tour will allow the viewer to explore the property at their own pace. The tour can include information “hotspots” which highlight features and benefits of the property. The tour can also include both 2D and 3D “dollhouse” style views of the property in great detail. They can even be virtually staged with furniture or equipment!

You can also show a tour directly with a prospect in real time. You can be online with them in the tour and show and sell to them virtually. How cool is that??

Virtual tours are a tremendous sales tool for property companies!

Car, Truck and RV Dealerships

One of the newest methods of leveraging virtual tours is the use of full 3D walk-around views of cars, trucks and recreational vehicles. A virtual tour of this type is SO much more effective than plain 2D photos because  he viewer can check out the features and condition of a vehicle at their own pace. They can literally “walk around” and “sit inside” the unit virtually!

Bars, Restaurants, Wedding and Event Venues

When people are looking online for an entertaining experience at a new place, being able to get a feel for the atmosphere of the location is a huge plus for them! Photos are great, but full tours really give the viewer a better feel for the ambiance of the place!

Gyms and Spas

When a prospective new client is looking for a gym or spa to go to, they almost always look online first. If your business has a walkthrough 360 degree tour that the viewer can check out, they will be much more likely to try that business than one that does not. Having a tour is almost REQUIRED for gyms and spas these days!

Retail Stores

A lot of retail stores, especially specialty product stores, can greatly benefit from a virtual tour in their Google Business Profile and on their website. Tours allow online searchers to really see specialty products and explore all the unique features your business has to offer them.

Additional Virtual Tour Benefits

Google also loves profiles with 360 virtual tours and they add even more juice to your ranking! Do you want your business to show up in Google searches closer to the top than your competition? Of course you do! Having a 360 virtual walkthrough tour embedded into your Google Business Profile helps to make that happen.

We all know that Google rules the online search space, and your business having a prominent spot with Google ensures that you capture searchers looking for your goods and services. Your virtual tour can be loaded directly into Google Street View, viewable in Google Maps, and uploaded directly to your Google Business Profile, which gives your company more “authority” in your niche. That just means that more people will find your business (before they see your competition) and generate more sales for you!

A properly produced virtual tour can be used and highlighted in all of your online marketing plans. Facebook marketing, Instagram posts, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter posts, email marketing campaigns, they ALL can link directly to your virtual tour, generating more interest and increasing the length of time searchers spend on your pages, boosting your ranking and visibility online.

How Do I Get a Virtual Tour Of My Business?

There are a number of ways to get a virtual tour for your local or small business.

One way is to do it yourself. You can actually shoot a tour with any camera or cell phone and post it to Google Street View yourself. The upside to this is the cost ($0) but the downside is the amount of your time it will take to get a decent quality tour posted. What is your time worth?

Another way to get a virtual tour of your business, and the one that I highly recommend, is to hire a true, virtual tour professional to shoot, edit and produce a tour for you, using high quality equipment and tools, and include whatever features you want to showcase. Preferably you should find a virtual tour photographer that is either a Google Trusted Photographer, a Google Local Guide, or both. Please be aware that since virtual tours are the new “hot” thing in digital marketing there are a lot of low quality amateurs jumping into making tours, and the quality can be less than acceptable. Find a pro that has decent equipment, takes the time to learn about how to best showcase your business, and will produce a product that will bring you leads for years to come. Check around, search “virtual tour providers” online in your area, ask other business owners who already have a tour and find a good pro to work with. You’ll be glad you did.

How Much Will a Virtual Tour Cost Me?

First off let’s be clear; like other marketing efforts for your business, a virtual tour should not be looked at as a “cost” but as an investment. You are spending money to make more money back right? Just a little marketing tip here…..that’s how you should look at all your dollars spent on marketing…….what return am I getting on my investment?

Virtual tours come in all shapes and sizes with lots of options to choose from. A simple tour of a small retail store will obviously require a smaller investment than an architecturally accurate, highly detailed tour of a commercial property or a business that needs a lot of options in the tour (like lead generation tools or live sales tours).

The one thing I can assure you of is this; whether your virtual tour is an investment of $100 or $10,000, the return on that investment will rival any other online marketing tool available today. Most tours are a one-time, up front fee, and the posting will last as long as Google hosts tours (probably forever).

If you have any doubts about investing in a virtual tour for your business, find a provider that offers a satisfaction, money back guarantee. (We offer this of course!)

The Bottom Line

If you own or manage a small or local business, and you want it to grow, online digital marketing is a must, and having a good virtual tour is a critical component of any marketing plan. Even if you don’t hire us here at Elevate Solutions Group, we HIGHLY recommend that you get a virtual tour for your business as soon as your budget allows. We can almost guarantee that your competition will. Reach out to us today and we’ll also do a free video audit of your Google Business Profile for you!


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Email: info@elevatesolutionsgroup.com

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Elevate Solutions Group helps small businesses grow by attracting, engaging and retaining customers using a combination of the latest digital marketing technologies and old-school common sense marketing.