How many times have you gone in a store and had a salesperson approach you with the same question, “May I help you?” The standard answer is usually, “No thank you, I’m just looking” even if you are there for a specific reason. Until we have decided that we want to do business with someone, we don’t want to be engaged or hounded by them.
As the internet has evolved, so have our expectations for websites. Remember when people used to ask you if you HAD a website? Now having a website is a given — if you have a phone number and a business card, you probably should have a website. The internet has provided us a virtual mall where we can browse around and get a real understanding of our options before actually actually engaging the services of a particular business.
The problem is that many websites today are nothing more than a glorified business card. The days of just putting pictures and text on your website and asking people to decipher your message are over. We are so inundated with data that we no longer want to sift through pages of information to find out who you are and what you charge. As I research prospective customers for our virtual tour business, I am amazed at how often I have to search multiple pages just to find the phone number for the facility much less the name of someone to talk to. Now granted, I am on the website trying to get this information so that I can sell our virtual tour services to them but MOST people are on a company’s website as potential customers for THEIR services.
Whether we are talking about healthcare facilities or taking high end vacation rental photos or residential real estate, there is no shortage of competition for business in today’s market. Most people use internet searches to create a “short list” of options to call later. I know that’s what I do. Once I have created a short list, I go back and review all the detailed information to help me further narrow down my choices. Most of the time, I want a quick overview from the home page that answers my basic questions — who is this business, what do they do, what makes them special and who do I need to talk to if I am interested.
A virtual tour is a one click way to answer many of those questions. If the information on the home page interests me, I will then go on to read the rest. By providing an automatic overview of the program, home or business, the virtual tour allows the prospective customer a chance to walk around without a pesky salesman asking “Can I help you?”