Google 360 Virtual Tour - Should Your Fire & Security Business Invest?
by Jo Shaer, on November 29, 2018
We talk to a lot of Fire & Security directors. You tell us that you are always looking for quick ways to generate more Traffic and Leads from your websites. It's the best way to get new customers!
One of the latest options is to invest in a Google 360 Virtual Tour of your premises.
Google Virtual Tours are neither 3D nor video. They are Street View inside. Street View? Yes, you know when you look at Google Maps and you can place the little orange man onto an area and then see what it actually looks like there – from the satellite view.
These Virtual Tours give a 360 degree view of the inside of your premises. They look impressive. But is it worth the investment?
Lollipop answer the vital questions that Fire & Security professionals need to know.
Will a Google Maps Virtual Tour affect your online search presence?
According to Joe Danzer of Advanced Online Insights, the average time spent on a Google My Business (GMB) Map listing WITHOUT a Virtual Tour is as follows:
- for a GMB listing that had never been verified but was able to be found. People would spend an average of 10-15 seconds;
- for a GMB listing that was verified, had more than 10 images and a good amount of reviews. Visitors would view the listing for 15-30 seconds. Because there is more to look at, they spend longer.
Local SEO experts say: when the number of photo views increases, it generates more search frequency for your business.
Your virtual tour consists of the final film itself, plus all the individual stills. That's a lot of images. Your competitors won't be doing this. Therefore, it will make your local map listing appear more often in searches.
And, when your listing is found, there is so much more to see. So your visitors will stay longer.
According to Google, for a GMB listing WITH a virtual tour the average time spent on a map listing increases to 1-3 MINUTES
But before you rush out and find your nearest Google 360 provider, you might want to hold your horses and read on.
Will a Virtual Tour increase Fire & Security website visits or phone calls?
The most compelling reason to have a 360 done for your Fire & Security company is if it increases the number of people who see your maplisting and then:
- click through to your website OR
- call your business
So, do we have definitive proof about that - either way?
Lollipop asked local 360 Virtual Tour makers Miru 3D to help us find out.
We had our tour created and uploaded. Then we waited three months for the stats to tell their tale. We used Evan Oder’s MyBusinessListing software. You get much better insights than from your GMB dashboard.
As predicted, adding a Virtual Tour did increase the number of views of Lollipop's photos on Google My Business, particularly the Customer Photo views - which is where the 360 images are stored.
And our listing did show up more often. So we compared the most recent stats to those gathered prior to the upload. The data was insufficient to say the Tour was definitely responsible for these increases.
Did it make a difference to calls, requests for directions or website clicks?
The data was underwhelming and inconclusive to be honest.
But remember - these map listings are for LOCAL. Most of our potential customers are NOT local, they are NATIONAL.
Does your business install alarm systems for LOCAL customers? This could make a difference for your ranking locally.
Should your Fire & Security business invest in Google 360?
Whilst Lollipop is not a Fire & Security company, our office is not that different to the premises of an installer. Neither of us really relies on customers coming to visit us. We are not a hotel or restaurant or gym where the people want to see the inside.
Now, don't get me wrong, our office is lovely. AND we love to meet with potential and existing customers. But our potential customers don't really give a flying fig about that!
However, there is something very important that a Virtual Tour can help with.
What the potential customers of a Fire & Security installer will want to know that you are a professional, accredited and legitimate business. A Google 360 will allow you to show that your business isn't operating out of someone's garage.
You can display your actual NSI or SSAIB certificates on the wall. You can show off the size and tidiness of your offices and any storage rooms or workshops.
The exterior shots can also draw attention to the number of vans (and therefore the number of engineers) you have.
The Virtual Tour gives a great impression of the SIZE of your business. That is always very reassuring to potential customers.
Will it show that you have great quality, cost-effective products? Well you could show off the boxes. And you could show any demo areas.
Will it help potential customers understand that your fabulous installers are friendly, trustworthy and won't make a mess? Remember that the best Google Virtual Tours don't include images of employees. The way that the 360 takes the images means the area being photographed needs to be completely still. Trying to stick together bits of your staff from different frames might make them look strange.
For this type of business, the experts agree that it's a great idea if you want to give the customer a better experience of your company. But don't rely on it if you want to increase calls or website clicks.
Google 360 tour cost
According to Joe Danzer, one of the best experts on 3D virtual tours in the US, you should pay around $350 for a single node video. And I was quoted from £350 here in the UK.
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