The consumer car buying journey has changed drastically over the years. In the past, consumers used to visit multiple dealerships to see cars in person and learn more about their options before making a purchase decision. But now, they can explore and research cars online, so they don’t need to visit a dealership until they are ready to buy a car.
This has made the process of buying a car far more convenient for consumers. However, it has also presented a challenge to dealerships. Now that so much of the car buying journey is online, dealers need to focus on connecting with consumers online rather than waiting for them to walk through the door.
One way to grab consumers’ attention online is to use high quality car photos, including 360 car interior photography. What is this type of photography? Where can you find these photos and how should you use them? Here’s what you need to know:
WHAT IS 360 CAR INTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHY?
A 360-degree car interior photo is a panoramic image of the inside of a vehicle. It allows consumers to see more than just a single snapshot of the interior of the car. These images are interactive, which means automotive consumers can move the image left, right, up, and down to see everything that surrounds the original point from which the photo was taken.
This type of photo basically puts the viewer in the driver’s seat of the car. They can move the photo to see everything around them so it will feel as if they are sitting behind the wheel turning their head in different directions to look around the car. They can even zoom in to get a closer look at a specific feature of the vehicle.
Because the photos are so realistic, the viewer may forget that they are looking at the car through a computer screen.
WHY SHOULD YOU USE 360 CAR INTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHY?
Many automotive dealers make the mistake of focusing solely on the exterior when showcasing a vehicle. However, showing the interior is just as, if not more so, important than showing the exterior. Why? Automotive consumers often decide which vehicle to purchase based on the interior features. These features can add convenience, make the driving experience more enjoyable, and provide a sense of luxury.
According to Autotrader, ‘73% of shoppers surveyed believe that a vehicle that has 360-degrees is more likely to buy it than one bought at merely sizing it up. 82% of people believe that 360-degree spin images are a must when evaluating vehicles online”.
So why should you use 360-degree car interior images rather than traditional still images? Here are some of the many reasons:
- Provides an interactive experience. Consumers who are shopping for a vehicle online will enjoy being able to interact with 360 degree interior photos. Having these images may improve their overall online shopping experience.
- Makes it easier for consumers to understand the interior layout. If you use still images, consumers may need to flip back and forth through the gallery to understand what features they are looking at and where each of them is located within the interior. However, a panoramic image puts consumers in the driver’s seat, so it won’t be hard to understand where things are within the vehicle.
- Creates a competitive edge. Using these interactive images on your website, social media accounts, and online listings can make your dealership stand out. This is becoming increasingly important as the competition in the automotive industry continues to grow.
- Helps consumers conduct pre-purchase research. Automotive consumers typically spend hours researching before deciding which vehicle to purchase. During this research phase, their goal is to collect as much information as possible about their options. Using these high resolution, detailed images ensures your target audience has all of the information they need about a vehicle’s interior to decide if it’s right for them.
- Serves as an accurate representation of the interior. Because it’s a small space with a lot of features, still images typically are not accurate representations of the interior of a vehicle. Some parts of the interior may look larger or smaller than they actually are or there could be issues with the lighting or reflections. You can avoid these problems by using 360 degree images rather than standard still images.
- Captures all of the interior features. It’s hard to capture all of the features of the interior of a vehicle using still images alone. However, panoramic images show every inch of the interior, so every feature will be included in the final shot.
HOW TO USE 360 CAR PHOTOGRAPHY
It’s clear that there are many benefits to using 360 car interior photos. The next step is learning the best ways to use these photos to your dealership’s advantage.
You can use 360-degree vehicle images in various places, including:
- Blogs: If you want to write a blog about the interior features of a new model, incorporate these images into your content. This makes it easier for the reader to visualize the features you are writing about.
- Social media posts: These panoramic images are eye-catching, so they will stop your target audience in their tracks as they scroll through their social media feed. Using these images is a great way to attract new followers and establish a strong online presence on social media.
- YouTube videos: You can even showcase these panoramic images in YouTube videos. Add a voiceover to the video that explains each of the interior features that are shown in the panoramic image. By doing this, you can create a unique, narrated tour of the interior of the vehicle.
- Online showrooms: Since more consumers are shopping online, you may want to use these images to create an at-home showroom experience for them. Because the images are so realistic, consumers will feel like they’re actually in a dealership’s showroom looking at the vehicle in person.
- Background images: It’s important to choose a striking background image for your website that will immediately grab your target audience’s attention. Some auto dealers use exterior shots of vehicles as their background image, but you can stand out by using a 360-degree interior photo instead.
These are some of the many ways in which you can use 360 interior images to promote your dealership.
DIY VS. PROFESSIONAL 360 CAR INTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHY
The next thing you need to figure out is how to get your hands on these images. There are two main options: take your own 360-degree photos or pay for professional images.
Doing it yourself might sound like the easiest option, but it’s not. You shouldn’t assume that you can take high quality 360-degree images simply because you know how to photograph cars.
Taking a 360-degree image of a vehicle is much harder than taking a still photograph. It requires special equipment and software to successfully produce a 360-degree car interior image.
Even if you are willing to invest in the necessary equipment and software, it can still take a lot of time and practice to learn how to create a high quality panoramic image. Taking each image is time-consuming, so it could take days to create panoramic interior images for every vehicle in your inventory.
You may run into other issues when trying to take these images on your own. For example, it may be hard for you to find an area with the right lighting. If you aren’t a professional photographer, overcoming this type of challenge is incredibly difficult.
You can avoid all of these potential problems by using professional 360-degree interior images instead. If you’re hesitant to pay for professional photos, think about all of the time, money, and energy you will need to spend in order to take your own photos. In the long run, paying for professional high quality photos makes much more sense than wasting your valuable resources on taking your own pictures.
HOW TO CHOOSE A STOCK PHOTO LIBRARY FOR 360 CAR INTERIOR IMAGES
You can find professional 360 car interior photography in stock photo libraries. But all stock photo libraries are not created equal. Here’s what to look for when choosing the right stock car photo library for your dealership:
- Variety of assets: Panoramic images are important, but they aren’t the only type of photo you should use to market your dealership. For this reason, it’s best to choose a stock photo library that offers a variety of exterior and interior vehicle photos and videos.
- Easy to search the database: It shouldn’t take a long time to find the stock images you need. Look for a library that allows you to search for and quickly locate the images you need.
- Extensive collection of vehicle images: You should also look for a stock photo library that has images and videos of many different types of vehicles. This way, you won’t have to pull images from multiple stock photo libraries. Your stock photo library should be a one-stop shop for everything you need.
- New releases: Find out how long it takes for each stock photo library to add images and videos of newly released vehicles. The longer you wait for these assets, the more time your competitors will have to find them elsewhere and use them to attract customers to their dealership instead of yours.
Automotive consumers often base their first impression of a vehicle off of its exterior. However, it’s usually the interior that sells the vehicle. Use the information in this guide to utilize 360 car interior photography to connect with your target audience, generate sales, and grow your business.