How to Shoot Inventory Videos That Sell

by Brian Cox

As published in the June issue of AutoSuccess

Car shoppers are relying on videos more than ever to help them with purchasing decisions. For car dealers, the first step in creating an effective video marketing strategy is to start with inventory videos. Stitched photo videos are a great option and deliver a better shopping experience for your customers than static photos.

However, if you really want to up your game, implement a process for full motion inventory videos. Live action videos are proven to engage more shoppers and convert more leads.

The good news is you don’t need a professional videographer or expensive equipment. You can start with a smartphone. Expect that the first few videos you shoot will be horrible. That’s okay. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s a quick primer on how to shoot professional looking inventory videos that sell.

Video Quality

First, get to know your equipment and learn how to use it. Small adjustments can make a big difference when it comes to video quality. Shoot with a 16:9 (horizontal) aspect ratio and experiment with different settings. The settings we recommend are:

Frames per second: 30

Shutter speed (exposure): 1/60, 1/125, or 1/250. The lower the light conditions, the lower the shutter speed. However, lower than 1/60 and your shots may be blurry.

ISO setting: It depends on lighting. If it’s a cloudy day or you’re shooting in the shade, use a higher ISO setting. However, the higher the ISO, the more grainy your video will be. Keep the setting as low as possible and never go above 800.

Aperture: This setting affects depth of field. If you want to bring the car into focus and blur the background, use a larger aperture setting. If you want both the car and the background to be in equal focus, use a smaller aperture setting.

Audio Quality

When it comes to audio in inventory videos, there are three options:

  • Talk while shooting the video
  • Add voiceover in post production
  • Use automated voiceover

If you choose to talk while shooting the video, invest in a good quality wireless microphone with noise reduction. Often it’s easier and more professional to lay down a voiceover track in post-production. If you’re not comfortable with either of these options, try an automated voice over option. With the right application, all you have to do is shoot the video and a data-driven audio layer is automatically added to your videos.

Video/Audio Content

When deciding what to say in your videos, the most important thing to remember is this: information is important, but emotion sells! Your job is to make the car shopper want this car over any other car they’re considering.

The best way to accomplish this is to tell the viewer WHY a feature is important. For example, if a vehicle has a built-in GPS system, add a comment about how a GPS “keeps you from getting lost and keeps you on time for appointments!”

In general, it’s best to keep inventory videos between 1.5 and 2.5 minutes in length. However, there are some dealerships that produce videos from three to four minutes in length that have high completion rates. It depends on the quality and presentation of the video.

Don’t forget to include your dealership’s unique selling proposition (USP). Why should the viewer buy this car from your dealership instead of from the dealership across town?

Informational and Emotional Enhancement

An effective inventory video strategy is to have the audio focused on the vehicle’s features and benefits, as well as your dealership’s unique selling proposition. Then, use banner overlays and other visual elements to relay additional information important to the car shopper, such as:

  • MSRP data
  • Rebates and incentives
  • Mileage
  • CPO content
  • CARFAX data
  • Dealership specials

All the information listed on the VDP page should be included in the video. Be sure to integrate conversion widgets into your videos, so when viewers click on the video they’re brought to a landing page.

Don’t forget to include a call to action at the end of the video! You must tell the customer what you want them to do, and give them a reason to do it.

Visibility

Once your inventory videos are complete, the next step is distribution. The more touch points your videos are viewed on, the more leads you will get. Make sure your inventory videos are viewable on:

  • Your website’s Vehicle Display Pages (VDPs)
  • YouTube, Facebook and other social media channels
  • Third-party shopping sites such as Cars.com, Autotrader.com or eBay
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Craigslist ads (provide a URL link to a video landing page)

To get your inventory videos ranked by Google, make sure your website provider utilizes a video sitemap for your website. A video sitemap greatly increases video SEO rankings.

The ability to produce quality vehicle inventory videos is the first step in creating an effective online video marketing strategy, guaranteed to draw more customers to your website and convert them into leads. Fortunately, these days, it’s easy and fast to create and distribute powerful full-motion inventory videos designed to capture car shoppers’ attention, educate and inspire emotion.

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