DMS is Partnering with Google to Get Your Small Business On the Map 📍

by Digital Main Street Digital Main Street   |   January 07, 2019   |   Share this :  

The Hype

 You've likely seen or at least heard of VR headsets, that are used to play games or for viewing interactive art experiences. You know those goofy looking awkward headsets…

But did you know that similar technology can be utilized to showcase your small business!? When customers search for businesses, Google returns a list of business profiles that can include store and product photos, a map, hours of operation, and even a tour of the inside of the business.

Google tours are the latest innovation in digital marketing and business listings. By implementing interactive 360-degree virtual reality, google tours allow potential customers to discover the ins and outs of businesses long before they ever enter the physical store.

But unlike video tours, a Google tour is a combination of high-quality still images stitched together to create a 360-degree, interactive environment.

Check out the video below to see a sample of a fully interactive restaurant walkthrough… 

On The Street

Our squad members recently visited a number of businesses along Eglinton West to assist with free digital onboarding and targeted support.

It's no secret that businesses along Eglinton can especially use the benefits of a digital marketing boost during the Crosstown LRT construction. But Google 360 can benefit almost any business with or without foot traffic and parking obstacles.  

For a business new to the world of Google listings and digital marketing, a Google tour might seem pretty cool, but ultimately overwhelming. Don't give up just yet! There are a lot of great benefits that come with a Google 360 tour and lots of folks that can help you along the way!

Astra Florist is one of the many businesses along Eglinton to benefit from a free Google 360 image taken by Bash. Click and drag on the image below to reveal the 360 effect. 

Our squad members help main street businesses complete their onboarding and digital assessment. Aside from this initial step, the squad can also…

  • Review their digital roadmap and recommendation and set priorities
  • Provide some guidance, resources and recommendations on how businesses can progress digitally.
  • Implement free and easy-to-use digital tools and technologies

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We are still accepting entries for our ‘Holiday Window Display Contest’ until the new year. Open to any Main Street business in Ontario. Tag us and use #digitalmainstreet to enter 📲 or fill out the form Winner will receive a free 1:1 session with one of our squad member. 🤓 This quick clip is from a recent visit to @astraflorists in @york_eglinton_bia. Susan and Sandra have put together a beautiful holiday window display. 🎄🙌🏻🎶 Watch for more clips, photos and a feature article on how shops along Eglinton are adopting tech in the new year! 👀 #digitalmainstreet #geekout #tech #marketing #happyholidays #toronto #yyz #ontario #eglintonwest @metrolinx @eglintonway @eglintonwestto

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DMS Squad Members are also “Trusted Verifiers” with Google, giving them the unique ability to add or edit business information in Google My Business – literally putting businesses on the map.

Okay, But How Does This Help Me?

If you have ever needed directions to an unfamiliar location, chances are you have used Google Maps. The popularity of this service has increased by leaps and bounds since its inception. More and more users are using Google Maps on their smartphones. 20% of Google searches are for local information. Google reports that consumers use a mapping product to find the business they want 44 percent of the time, with 41 percent of those searches resulting in a visit to the physical store.

What are the benefits?

1) Accessibility + Engagement: Tons of potential customers are looking for places to eat, play and shop on the weekends, but they are also unsure about operating hours, as many places are closed. These hours can be easily found on a Google My Business listing. Online success is largely measured by engagement. The virtual tour is a new interactive element that holds people’s attention longer. It gives the viewer control of the experience by letting them “look around” and explore as they wish. An individual can explore the business from wherever they are most comfortable, at any time before planning a visit. 

2) Competitive Advantage: When it comes to local businesses, 97 percent of people search online before making a decision. A Google tour enhances the ranking of online presence where that 97 percent are searching, allowing your business to get discovered more easily and frequently. Listings with photos and a virtual tour are twice as likely to generate interest.

3) It Bridges Communication Gaps: GMB can answers questions customers may have about your business that simple text can’t answer. Plus the tour lives right inside your Google Business Listing, which includes all the pertinent facts about your business, reinforcing everything a potential customer would need to know to do business with you.

4) It's Hip and Cost Effective! Having a 360-degree virtual reality search element that's even compatible with VR devices is actually kind of amazing. Most folks won't ever use it this way, but this small feature keeps you at the top of the modern marketing game and without breaking your budget. It enables you to connect with future generations. After the initial cost of creating a Google tour, there are no hosting or maintenance fees. The tour lives on Google maps and continues to generate interest long after your initial investment.

What Kind of Businesses Benefit Most From Google 360 Virtual Business Tours?

Almost any business with a physical office space will benefit from a high-definition Google Virtual Tour but especially:

> Restaurants

> Banks

> Medical offices

> Hotels

> Car dealers

> Corporate offices

> Storefront businesses

> Retail businesses

> Manufacturing facilities

> Any business with a showroom

How Do You Get a Google Virtual Tour?

In order to get a Google 360 Virtual Tour, you have to get one through a Google Trusted Photographer or Agency. Google only allows individuals and agencies enrolled in this program to upload these panoramic tours directly into Google Maps.

Our squad offers free setup of this service, however, if we're not currently servicing your area you can still connect with a local specialist to facilitate this process for you. 


➡️ Learn more about how small businesses in Ontario are using digital tech, tools, and services like Google 360 

➡️ Apply for the $2,500 OBIAA grant which can help cover the costs of any eligible expenses towards any eligible costs, including web development, digital marketing, training, software, and hardware!

➡️ Geek out a little while you dive into our latest blog articles

➡️ Stay up to date by signing up for our 2x monthly newsletter.

➡️ Attend upcoming workshops, boot camps, and other networking events.

➡️ Check out our how-to guides, tutorials, and other helpful tools.

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