A fundamental component that is missing in many online transactions is being able to see where you are going and what is in the surrounding area. This is where the role of interactive maps comes in.
An interactive map is just that—a map that your Web site visitors can interact with. It is a map of a specified region that has integrated interactive multimedia functionality. These interactive multimedia capabilities give users the ability to explore the maps in much more depth. Interactive maps are great for many industries because they give you the opportunity to show consumers where your business is located, as well as other related or complementary businesses in your local area. A hotel, for example, will identify their location on the map and also show where the nearest golf courses, ski hills, skating rinks, basketball courts, football fields, shopping, restaurants, churches, and so on, are in relation to the hotel. Interactive maps can link to visual images, a voice-guided tour, videos, or any other marketing component you can dream of. (See an example of an interactive map in Figure 6.3)
There are lots of places online to find free tools or shareware to add to your Web site to create some “WOW” factor. Google Gadgets and Widgetbox include great tools like driving directions to your location, weather forecasts for your
area, a currency convertor for international customers, countdown clocks for time sensitive purchases, and much, much more. Check out Google Gadgets at http://www.google.com/webmasters/gadgets/foryourpage/index.html and Widgetbox at http://www.widgetbox.com. Widgetbox has tons of great widgets to incorporate your social media into your Web site.