Are virtual tour services worth what you pay for them? Answer: Yes. Especially if you use the same virtual tour service I use because it is FREE. What service do I use, YouTube.
That's right. I use YouTube to post virtual tours of my property listings. It's free and it is easy. No expensive service required. I take my camera, film as I walk through the house (I typically do a video of the front and then one walking through the house), upload to my computer and then upload to YouTube. It's that simple. Now if you see my virtual tours, you may think that you get what you pay for. True, it is not the best quality, but I think it gets the job done, and besides, something is better than nothing. People get to see the layout of the house and the surrounding area.
As I mentioned, the good thing about YouTube is it is free to create an account and upload videos. Also, when you film, you can give commentary about the property such as amenities, rooms that you are filming, surrounding areas, etc. Most digital cameras these days allow you to record your voice while filming. But the best thing about YouTube as a virtual tour tool is that you can see how many people have viewed your virtual tour. I don't know if paid for services allow you to do this (I have never used them), but this is my absolute favorite thing about using YouTube. You actually know if your properties are being viewed. The only downside is that it does not tell you where your traffic is coming from, for instance, from your web-site or the MLS, but at least you know you are getting traffic. I started doing this about 2 weeks ago and, out of the 17 videos I have uploaded, I have had at the time of this post 359 views. That is a lot of exposure for free.
However, I guess if you wanted to check the effectiveness of your advertising, you could selectively copy/paste the YouTube URL to only the advertising site you want to check and see if you get activity from that. For instance, you have a website and want to see if it is drawing traffic, for a trial period, only advertise the YouTube link to your virtual tour on that site and see if you get any hits off of it. If you do, than you know that you are getting traffic to your website, if not, than you know you need to step up your promotion efforts of your website, or post the URL in other locations to make sure your client is getting their money's worth out of you.
So, how do you advertise or let people know they can view a virtual tour on YouTube? I simply copy the URL off of YouTube and paste it to my property marketing sites. Some websites have a virtual tour link that allows you to paste the URL in that, when clicked on by viewer, it takes them straight to the tour. If not, than you can just copy/paste it into the comments/description section of the property directing people to the site.
I hope that you can use the information in this post. I encourage and invite your feedback as well as any tips you would like to share.