The Next Level Visual Aids You Need on Your Way to Becoming a Market Leader
Photography has certainly come a long way since the days of pinhole cameras and magnesium flash powder.
Today, professional photographers have some fantastic tools at their disposal—from aerial & underwarter drones to action cameras, and everything in between — all for capturing the most enticing images to help their clients stand out from the crowd.
What was once a purely analog endeavor has become more and more intertwined with the digital world, opening up unique possibilities and new ways for photographers to provide value to their customers.
By leveraging modern computing power with the creative aspects of photography, we can go beyond single, flat, still images, and enter into a world where images become interactive, immersive, and multi-dimensional, allowing us to explore objects and spaces in ways never before possible.
On the cutting edge of this digital expansion in image-capturing technology is 360° photography — an emerging technology that allows viewers to explore a scene from multiple angles taking ownership of the viewing experience and feeling more connected to the subject matter.
What is 360 photography?
At its most basic, 360° photography is the process of combining multiple perspectives into a single scene which the viewer can manipulate, rotate, and explore as if they were there in person. This allows us to provide a virtual reality-like experience to viewers without the need for expensive viewing equipment. Think of a panorama photograph, but taken to the extreme, giving viewers not only the ability to see left-to-right, but up, down, and behind themselves as well.
These 360° photographs become even more powerful as a way to explore the spaces around us when we begin to combine multiple 360° images into a complete virtual tour, creating an immersive experience of a location which will leave the viewer with a deep sense of familiarity with a place they’ve never physically visited before.
By taking multiple 360° photographs of an area, each from a slightly different point, a photographer can combine them in a way that allows the viewer to seamlessly move from one image to the next, creating the ability to move around a room, viewing objects or spaces from multiple vantage points and getting the most realistic experience of a space possible, without having to actually visit the location.
If you have ever used the Google Maps Street View function, you know exactly how powerful these virtual environments can be. Whether you want to explore the neighborhood where you are looking to rent an Airbnb, scout the location of the office before a meeting with a client, or explore a far off city, the ability to take a virtual tour means we get to see what the location looks like before we even arrive.
How can virtual tours help attract customers?
Providing an immersive, virtual tour of your facilities is a great way to keep potential customers engaged with your content and prevent them from leaving your site and moving on to the next one.
Modern consumers are constantly evaluating their choices online. They want as much information as possible, from trusted sources, and in an easy-to-digest format. When a potential customer visits your website looking for information, they expect to see professional-quality multimedia, including photos and videos. Because today's consumers are busy, they don't want to waste their time with an underwhelming user experience, and they want to be able to understand what that experience will be like before they ever leave their sofa.
Businesses that incorporate 360° virtual tours into their website, listings, or search engine business page are able to draw in more customers by providing a level of comfort, trust, and transparency, which doesn't come from traditional photography.
Is 360 photography worth the investment?
Like most types of specialised photography, 360° photography is an investment. But it is an investment that can pay off multiple times over when used correctly.
Boost engagement – Providing visitors with engaging multimedia content means they will spend more time on your site (visitors spend 5-10x longer on pages with virtual tours than pages without), leading to lower bounce rates, longer viewing times, increasing the likelihood they engage with additional pages on your site and get one step closer to buying your product or booking your service.
Increase conversion rates – Having more visitors or having visitors who spend more time on your site is fantastic, but if they don't convert to paying customers, it doesn't count for anything. Statistics from REALTOR.COM show that Click Through Rates on listings with virtual tours is 40% higher than listings without. According to a survey by the US National Association of Realtors body, nearly 55% of respondents said they would consider buying a property without visiting in person if the listing included a virtual tour. Almost 80% of potential house buyers in the survey said they would switch to a real estate agent who offered 3D tours of their properties if their agent did not. In addition to this, a study by Best Western found that hotel websites, which included virtual tours, led to an increase of 48% more bookings versus sites without.
Improve Search Engine Rankings – One of the fastest ways to ruin your SEO and find your site has been bumped from the first results page is to have visitors leave your site after only a few seconds and having visited only one page. Providing useful content such as virtual tours mean your visitors are more likely to find the information they need and stay on your site longer, leading to a signinficant positive impact on SEO and search engine ranking, which feeds the ongoing cycle of increased visitors and increased engagement.
Turbocharge Local Search Results – Including your virtual tours and 360° images in your Google MyBusiness page as well as on Google Street View can help a business stand out in the increasingly competitive local search space. For companies that heavily rely on local searches, one of the best tools to use is the MyBusiness page, and including a virtual tour is one of the best ways to boost first impressions on local search results, which can further improve overall SEO in general and local SEO in particular.
As we can see, offering immersive, 360° photography and virtual tours has the potential to increase traffic and conversion rates significantly, and the need to provide digital experiences for customers is only going to increase.
Why 360 photography is more important than ever?
The world we live in is increasingly digital, connected, and open. It is easier than ever to move from place to place across the country or around the globe. But this interconnectedness has only increased the need for digital, virtual solutions for experiencing locations. Consumers have come to expect everything instantly, digitally, and remotely, and that is no different when it comes to renting a vacation property or an event venue or even buying a house.
Large companies may require input from multiple stakeholders across multiple countries before purchasing new office space or renting an exhibition hall for a large event. Wedding planners may need to show reception spaces to happily engaged couples halfway around the world. The need to keep up with this digitized way of doing business is only going to keep increasing as we move into the future.
And as we have seen recently with social distancing measures put in place across the globe, showing spaces through virtual tours may become increasingly necessary even for clients who live in the same city.
For businesses to thrive in the new normal, including immersive experiences in their set of tools is no longer just a way to stand out among the crowd. It's increasingly becoming a necessary way to ensure the business is prepared for future disruptions.
So how can your business use 360° photography and virtual tours to connect with your customers and increase engagement and sales, and ensure you are able to continue to operate smoothly as we enter the new normal?
What industries are already using 360 photography?
There are as many ways to use 360° photography and virtual tours as there are businesses that could benefit from this interactive technology. While every company has unique needs and unique customers who will interact with this digital content in their own way, here are a few common examples of how your business could benefit:
Travel & Hospitality – One of the most straightforward examples of where virtual tours can provide value to a business's potential customers. By including 360° virtual tours alongside high-quality photos and videos on a hotel or short-term rental listing, organizations or individuals in the travel & hospitality industry can provide potential visitors with the comfort of knowing exactly what to expect when they arrive at the property.
Real Estate – For real estate agents and buyers, one of the most important moments in the property-buying process is the walkthrough of the home or commercial property. This can be a complicated and time-consuming process, where the two parties had to deal with scheduling concerns and trips across town to visit multiple locations only to find out that the potential buyer wasn't interested. This is even more complicated for out-of-town buyers who only had a short window of time to visit properties (if any at all). Providing 360° virtual tours of properties allows interested buyers the opportunity to view multiple properties from the comfort of their home or office, work with the real estate agent to select the ones they like the best, and visit only the top choices before signing.
Entertainment & Events Spaces – Businesses who rent spaces for conferences & events as well as entertainment & sporting venues can utilize 360° photography and virtual tours to give their customers a complete view of the amenities and installations available for the event. This also can provide the potential customer the option to view the space in multiple layouts and designs.
Educational & Cultural Spaces – One of the more unique use cases for 360° photography and virtual tours applies to museums, art galleries, botanical gardens, and other educational and cultural spaces. By providing virtual tours of their installations, these spaces can increase their reach, opening up their virtual doors to visitors who otherwise would not be able to visit, due to physical, financial, or logistical barriers. Not only this, but virtual visitors also have the ability to see famous works, beautiful plants, and ancient relics in a new way, without having to fight huge crowds — and without ever leaving their home or their classroom.
Interior designers & Architects – For enterprises where the focus is not selling or renting the space, but actually creating and designing the space, 360° photography can be an exciting addition to an online portfolio or business page, providing potential clients the ability to experience the areas in three dimensions in a way that traditional photography cannot do alone.
Parks, Camping & Outdoor Businesses – Businesses that focus on outdoor activities can benefit greatly from 360° photography, giving potential clients the ability to visit and explore the spaces without worrying about poor weather, traffic or time constraints. What's more, this also opens up the possibility to show the locations in multiple seasons, allowing for tours of specific seasons to be done all year round.
360° photography and virtual tours provide an engaging way for businesses to connect with potential customers, offering them a simple and effective way to experience the location from the comfort of their own homes or workplace.
But this powerful photography technique isn't just an extra that businesses can offer if they have some extra budget. It is increasingly becoming an integral element required for a business to excel online.
Including 360° photography and virtual tours in your multimedia package, alongside high-quality photographs and video, can increase engagement on your site, boost key metrics that affect SEO and organic search results, and lead to increased sales due to higher traffic and conversion.
There are plenty of ways to utilise 360° photography to grow your business, so what are you waiting for? Get in touch with us now at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our freephone number 0800 368 9749 and let’s discuss how we can help you reach that next level!