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Does Your Dealership Hide Behind The Curtain?

by Tim James

Virtually every dealership today uses their website, social media channels, and email to be a part of their “voice” when it comes to communicating with their customers and begin building a “trust” relationship long before the shopper ever visits their store.

The ultimate goal of each of these communications is to drive the consumer to your lot. Your team is very good at building that “trust” relationship with each shopper once they do actually visit your dealership. The question is, are you putting your best face forward on the web?

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To really accelerate the “trust relationship,” consider putting short videos of each of your employees on your website. Vehicle shoppers are now used to using electronic devices and many prefer a more visual approach to research. They like to use videos to help better educate them on their options. This is a great opportunity to highlight employee knowledge and expertise and to personalize your store for the customer. It is human nature to want to do business with someone that you feel a personal connection with. We all know that people buy from people they like. Well, people will choose your store to visit for a test drive over your competitor’s if they feel that personal connection, too. In fact, you will find that many shoppers may visit your store just because they feel a personal connection with a member of your sales team, even while they are still undecided on a vehicle. At the very least, consider including names, photos, contact information, and perhaps even short text bios, as this can help build customer trust. This practice can even assist a customer to reconnect with a specific person they dealt with on their previous visit and liked.

Personal video e-mail bios are also an excellent way to connect with your customers, the response rate can double as consumers like to receive personal contact from a “real” person. “Thank you” and “Welcome” videos from the dealer or general manager integrated into auto-responders for incoming leads can also further personalize your store. This simple action can elevate you over your competitor’s uninspiring automated responses. In addition to the personal video e-mail bios and visible employee information on the website, consider including a thumbnail photo, or at the very least, a specific person’s name, and title plus their contact information on all emails.

Building rapport with the consumer and developing trust usually pays off in dividends with in an increase of customers into your dealership, as well as higher loyalty and retention from existing customers. The customer’s ride may begin online, by phone or through email, but if you are to help them on their journey, your dealership and your staff need to be visible and available so that there is no mystery about who or what is behind the curtain.

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Flick Fusion at the 17th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition

The sun has set on another fantastic Digital Dealer Conference in Las Vegas and we’re extremely grateful to have been able to share our knowledge, expertise and services with the thousands of attendees. As usual, the Mirage Hotel was a great venue. The team at Digital Dealer did an excellent job managing the event with new ideas designed to facilitate operations, and unexpected surprises designed to welcome attendees. Elvis & a couple showgirls awaited registering dealers in the foyer. Of course, our VP of Sales, Tim James, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a quick picture.

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Flick Fusion was fortunate enough to kick off the show with Tim’s session “Video Marketing Tips, Trends & Practical Uses.” A packed room of attendees learned about the importance of having a video marketing strategy, along with multiple ways to implement one. As Tim polled the audience to see who was taking real video of their inventory, those who weren’t received a wake-up call! The interactive session saw a lot of questions regarding how dealers could start and attendees left with a better understanding of the importance of video marketing in today’s world.

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During exhibit hall hours, the Flick Fusion booth was continuously filled with dealers interested in hearing about our suite of products, including our latest offerings, VidMail and Timeline Marketing. We saw hundreds of dealers over the course of the show and some were so impressed that they signed up on the spot. Our Samsung Galaxy camera giveaway was a big hit especially when we demonstrated how easy it was to utilize this technology in their video marketing.

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The week culminated in our VIP party co-sponsored by our friends at LiveEvent Stream Automotive. We sincerely enjoyed hosting the many dealers who attended and had an excellent time networking with old and new friends alike.

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Thanks to everyone at Digital Dealer who helped organize another excellent show. And to all of the dealers who came to see us. See you in Tampa for the next Digital Dealer Conference!

Choosing Between New Or Used

In Marketing, New Trumps Used Every Time

by Brian Cox

Bob visits a website searching for a new vehicle. As he filters down to the model he is considering, he is confronted with a seemingly endless list of stock photos with similar prices. Frustrated at the lack of information, he leaves and attempts his search on another site just to get the same results.

Suzy is in the market for a used vehicle. After comparing vehicles by prices and mileage, she finds one that fits her needs and her budget. The vehicle doesn’t have a very good description, however, and she has questions about the vehicle’s condition. She fills out the form and asks for more pictures of the vehicle. All she gets in return are repeated invites to schedule an appointment while being bombarded with phone calls from salespeople.

Joe is shopping for a new vehicle also. Joe is a very meticulous person. His house is always in order. His DVDs are alphabetized. He refuses to buy anything used. He knows that he wants the new Mustang. He also knows that he wants it to have as few miles as possible and, if feasible, to never have even been test-driven. He visits his local dealer’s website and all he sees are stock photos. He resigns himself to the fact that he is going to have to physically go to the dealership and inspect vehicles, which he does not have time for.

In all of these situations, the online shopper could have converted to a lead or sale. The friction point that stopped the customer from converting was very simple – lack of information. Humans are all different in their peculiarities, but do have one thing in common; they want to get the best value for their dollar. Had any of these dealerships taken the time to enhance their VDPs with dozens of photos and videos, these shoppers may have taken the next step towards the sale. Instead, they are left with frustration and no information.

Imagine if, while searching, Bob had encountered a listing that had actual images or video of a real vehicle in stock at a dealership. Or if Suzy had seen a video walkaround of the used vehicle that caught her eye. Maybe actual images and video of a specific new Mustang would have allayed Joe’s concerns of its condition and he would have reached out to the dealer to start the buying process.

Sadly, many dealers fall short of what is optimum – they have their DMS push out their inventory the instant it’s stocked and then distribute it to all of the touchpoints a consumer may visit. When a consumer finds that vehicle they are poorly served and presented with a VDP that has no description, images or video, and sometimes not even a price.

Most dealers recognize the impact that great image and video marketing can bring to their used vehicle inventory marketing. They know that the faster they get those images and video onto their VDPs, the faster they will see interest by consumers, and the faster vehicles will sell. The one thing that most of the automotive industry neglects, however, also happens to be the thing they have the most of: new cars. Perhaps dealers feel that there is no point taking pictures and video of each individual new vehicle as they are all the same at every dealer. The fact is that marketing your new vehicles may prove to be more important than marketing your used vehicles.

Including images and video of actual vehicles will make you stand out from your competitors in search results on the many consumer touchpoints.

Most dealers have 4-5 new cars for every single used car in inventory. Chances are that your competitor isn’t taking pictures or video of their new cars either. We all know the value SEO has in gaining new customers. By marketing your new vehicles with descriptions, images and video, you stand out from your competitors and increase your content within search engines by 4-5 times! This could easily help you dominate search engine results and every other touchpoint a consumer visits.

If you are not shooting photos and video of your new car inventory, you essentially have no marketing for the largest segment of your inventory. Start taking pictures and video of your new vehicles and you’ll achieve maximum exposure, which will lead to more leads and, ultimately, more sales.

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How to Tame the Bull Named Facebook

by Tim James

In 1991, a 5’2” 125-pound cowboy stared into the face of Wolfman Skoal. a young 2,000-pound bull with a bad reputation. So bad, in fact, that a $500 bounty existed for any rider that could tame the beast and ride a full 8 seconds. Wade Leslie accepted the challenge. As he mounted the bull in preparation for his ride, the bull promptly lay down in the pen. He considered getting off. But then the bull’s owner reassured him that Wolfman Skoal would perform. Sure enough, once the gates opened, the bull leapt straight into the air like a rocket and preceded to do its best to eject Wade. Wade had different plans, however. He not only succeeded in riding Wolfman Skoal for the full 8 seconds, but also became the first, and to date, only bull rider to score a perfect 100 points in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Not unlike bull riding, marketers are constantly creating content that is competing with both their competitors and the platform on which that content is published. Right now, the biggest and baddest bull around is Facebook. One could say that as Facebook grows up, its personality continually changes, forcing marketers to continuously change with them. As it finally enters its teens, this 10-year old has decided that, at the moment, it happens to like video content. In bull riding, judges calculate a score for both the rider and the bull. Riders know that their score depends on both how they ride and how their bull performs. A rider can stay on a bull for the full 8 seconds. But if the bull isn’t rowdy enough to impress the judges, the rider can still receive a sub-par score. Keep this in mind when developing your content. In marketing, the success of your content starts with the content creator (the rider) and is dependent on Facebook (the bull).

In early summer of 2014, Facebook began releasing in-depth data on video performance. Social media resource Socialbakers eagerly dove into that data in an effort to tame the bull and finally give marketers information that would assist them in their quest for video marketing success. Through the study of 1,000 Facebook pages containing over 3,000 videos, it was found that videos of ~21 seconds long were the most successful. The main metric used to determine a video’s success was its completion rate (i.e.: the percentage of people who watched at least 95% of a video). As in most rules, there are exceptions, yet the in-depth study showed that the longer a video was, the lower the completion rate.

There are many variables that can be used to explain this phenomenon, ranging from attention spans in general, content that’s not engaging, and the bandwidth needed to view a longer video on mobile devices. Not enough time has passed since the release of this data for more comprehensive studies to be done. One thing is certain, however, and that is that Facebook is increasingly choosing to deliver video content to its users’ newsfeeds. The study of Facebook video performance found that ~57% of viewers who started watching a video, completed the video. The Socialbakers study even went as far as to make a preliminary finding that “If this data holds true, Facebook videos are outperforming YouTube videos.” They speculate that the reason for this “could be attributed to more intelligent distribution of videos on Facebook, due to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm doing a better job of matching interested users with engaging videos than YouTube does.”

Keep in mind that these statistics are based on a preliminary study of Facebook video content in general. We’ve found that the money spot for completion rates on videos are between 1-1/2 to 2 minutes long across all other video platforms. The reason for this is that product videos tend to be sought out by a consumer rather than being delivered to them by the platform. We expect that this will remain consistent, as consumers who visit a dealership’s Facebook page to view an inventory video have purposely sought out this content. Consumers looking to purchase a vehicle are willing to make a longer time investment for the simple reason that it is directly tied to a significant expense. Mobile users are statistically willing to make even longer commitments ranging from 2-1/2 to 4 minutes depending on the device.

Any type of content produced by a business has a limited amount of time to capture a person’s attention. Video content has an advantage in that it is the only content that tells a viewer exactly how much of a time commitment they have to by displaying its total viewing length. And if your content is engaging, consumers will give you more of their time. If not, you’ll find them abandoning your message quicker than a bull can throw a rider.

The next time you create video content and stare the bull named Facebook in the eye as you prepare to either submit or be submitted, keep in mind the following: high quality, engaging video content that quickly captures a viewer’s attention will increase the length of time that you’re able to stay on the bull and impress the judges. And just like bull riding, they are the only people that matter.

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Using Moneyball Strategies to Win the Content Marketing Game

by Tim James

In a recent article published on Marketing Land, an author used the famous concept of Moneyball and applied it to content marketing. If you aren’t familiar with the Moneyball concept, it began when Billy Beane became manager of the 2001 Oakland Athletics. Mr. Beane hypothesized that a team doesn’t necessarily need a superstar to win games. The key to winning in baseball is scoring. To score runs, a team must have players that can get on base. Rather than allocate millions of dollars (which the organization couldn’t afford) for superstar players, Mr. Beane used data and algorithms to identify players who may have been considered sub-par, but had high on-base percentages (i.e.: they could hit and get on base consistently). Using this strategy, he was able to put together a team that went on to win against stacked teams of superstars.

The author of the Marketing Land article went on to explain how successful content marketing paralleled the Moneyball strategy. Marketers shouldn’t be spending tons of money in an attempt to hit homeruns with one great viral video as their only piece of content. What they should be doing is building better “team members” by consistently creating high quality content of interest to its audience. In the automotive space, many dealers believe content creation is anchored in their inventory. While inventory is certainly the most important asset a dealer has, there are many other types of content that dealers can produce easily and with low expenditure.

Car buyers are seeking different types of information at different points in the buying cycle, whether that information is about a new vehicle, the reputation of a dealership, or if a used vehicle is a good value. Dealers that consistently produce a variety of high quality content have more opportunity to get on base. Using the analogy of Moneyball, think of a blog post or walkaround video as being “at bat”. The more times you’re up to bat, the more chances you have of getting on base with a consumer. Success in content marketing begins with eyeballs on your content. Peaking a customer’s interest enough to submit a lead gives you the opportunity to advance them around the bases. Dealers don’t need to hit homeruns to score. They simply need to get on base through a lead submission, phone inquiry or dealership visit. Get on base enough, and the runs (sales) will happen.

You cannot score runs, however, if you never try to hit the ball. Content marketing can be simple and affordable but it’s a long-term commitment to taking as many swings at the ball as possible that will yield the greatest return on investment. Instead of allocating large amounts of money in an attempt to hit homeruns, consider changing your focus to one of getting on base more often through the consistent creation of content. You never know which piece of content will produce the homerun for you but I guarantee that you’ll never hit one if you don’t swing the bat. The sooner you step up to the plate and start swinging, the sooner you will begin to see shoppers moving around the bases and your runs starting to increase.

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The Single Worst Thing A Dealership Can Do In Video Marketing

by Brian Cox

It has long been considered a best practice in search engine optimization and search engine marketing to use deep linking to take searchers to the exact content they are searching for, rather than simply directing them to your home page. If the searcher is not taken directly to the content they are seeking, they are forced to do a second search for the information once they hit your site. In many cases, searchers will simply click the “Back” button and move on to the next result. Consumers don’t have the time or patience to navigate your website, whether they landed there through an organic search or clicked on a PPC ad. There’s nothing more frustrating when researching a product online, clicking a link and being taken straight to a store’s home page, rather than the actual product page. Google recognizes this and takes deep linking and relevant results into account in search engine results as well.

In video marketing, there is a similar phenomenon that businesses use that is parallel and equally frustrating – video pre-roll. Video marketing success is determined and measured by how many people actually watch your video. Video pre-roll is, in general, just as annoying to consumers as pop-up ads. If a consumer is exposed to your video marketing message, is interested and clicks to watch it. To then have to watch a commercial before actually viewing the content they desire, can be just as frustrating as being taken directly to your home page. Volkswagen recognizes this and integrated it into a video ad campaign for the new Brazilian Beetle, the Fusca. The campaign takes advantage of the fact that consumers hate having ads appear before content. The “skip ad” option on YouTube has to be the most clicked on link on that site. Where does your mouse hover while you wait the obligatory 5 seconds simply so you can view the content you actually want to watch? A study by research firm MetrixLab concluded, “Of those who has seen pre-roll ads, 94 percent had skipped them, and 52 percent said they did so frequently.”

Taking this a step further, many dealerships are now front-loading their videos with commercials for their dealerships. Video marketing is a very powerful way to market your vehicles. When a consumer takes interest – regardless of where they encounter the video – forcing them to watch a 20 second (or longer) commercial for the dealership, prior to showing them the actual video of the vehicle, can be even more annoying then pre-roll ads. If 94 percent of people would skip watching a video pre-roll ad, how many consumers will sit through a commercial for your dealership, knowing that they cannot skip it?

If the vehicle videos on your website have pre-rolls branding your dealership, this forces the customer to watch the same marketing message for every car they review. So we suggest not putting them on your website videos. If you have to have a pre-roll then keep it short and create two versions of the video, one for your website without pre-roll, and one with. Another option is to not use pre-rolls and just put post-rolls, this way you are still getting your message across, but without inconveniencing the customer.

There’s nothing wrong with branding your videos. In fact, you should. There are many opportunities and methods you can use to integrate branding into your videos – from walkarounds to company culture or frequently asked question videos. Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with creating commercials as content and a way to promote your sale or dealership. However, you should use them independent of your other content. Don’t make a consumer choose not to watch your vehicle marketing because they don’t want to sit through your commercial.

Just as in deep linking, you will see better results by immediately serving up relevant information on the subject a consumer is searching for. You’ll see more views, lower bounce rates and increased conversions for the most obvious of reasons: consumers will watch them.