dealership

Build Your F&I Revenue Through Video

Dealers are increasingly adopting video in order to engage customers and win sales. Well, how about adopting this strategy in the F&I department as well?

As front-end margins decrease, many dealerships are placing more emphasis on F&I to make revenue. With digital retailing on the rise and customers shopping from home rather than in the showroom, how does a finance department sell F&I products in the absence of the dealer?

Going under the assumption that home delivery means that the entire deal has already been done as the paperwork must be printed in advance, dealerships are probably finding it difficult to present finance products in the most convincing way.

And that is where video comes in.

Most companies that offer various F&I products have product videos available for your use. The first step to increasing your F&I profit is to package these videos along with your dealership’s value proposition (Why Buy) videos, testimonial videos, and other finance FAQ videos on your website where they are easy for the consumer to find. Consumers know these “upsell” product offers are coming. Provide them with the opportunity to educate themselves on the various products higher in the buying cycle. 

The next step is to strategically re-introduce these videos to the consumer as they continue through the buying cycle. After you have used “video messages” when following up with inquiries (leads) and setting appointments, include these F&I videos in the “video experience” that you send to your leads to confirm appointments.

This provides the shopper with another opportunity to view the various F&I videos, and, with the right software, you can enjoy real-time reporting on the exact video content they view. When your shopper shows up for their appointment, you have insight into all the F&I videos they have watched (or haven’t watched). You know if they watched videos about purchasing with bad credit, lease vs. purchase, the impact of a divorce or bankruptcy, and all the extended warranty and other F&I product videos that you offer. Armed with this information, your team can provide a significantly better experience for each consumer, while helping them with any questions they may be afraid to ask. Both your profits and CSI Scores go up. 

For the best results, I would suggest having the finance manager make multiple videos of products on an individual basis. This personalization will increase the informational and emotional value of your videos and reward you with an even larger success ratio.

For example, your finance manager could create a video explaining why paint & fabric protection is a worthwhile investment for the consumer. Then another video explaining wheel and tire protection. Then continue to create short videos “selling” products as if the customer is sitting right in front of them. In addition, you could also create a short video with the finance manager summarizing all of the finance products.

Regardless of if you use stock product videos, or your own personalized videos, be certain to include some testimonial videos for each product.  Consumers constantly hear how they don’t need the various “upsell” products. Let them hear a few success stories from other consumers who found the product valuable. 

As the finance manager is the correct person to explain and adjust payments based on product and accessory choices, it is important for them to have that engagement and to have these product videos handy should the customer prefer to do everything online. The finance manager can then engage the customer with video via email or even live over a “one-click” video call, whatever the customer’s communication preference may be, while the vehicle paperwork is being created and sent to the customer.

Video can be used in every department to increase brand loyalty, vehicle sales, F&I product sales and service revenue. It is a highly effective tool that should be added to your marketing toolbox. However, to truly maximize the benefit of your videos, utilize your video content across multiple touchpoints as an end-to-end video marketing strategy that combines video content with video data. Then you will realize the true value of video.

Keeping with the Times is Essential in Video Marketing

Video marketing in the automotive industry is very dynamic, which makes it essential to keep your videos relevant and sensitive to your market.

During this pandemic, video has proven to be a tremendous tool for communicating with customers and potential customers, helping to gain their trust and create more impact in every stage of the sales funnel.

Here are a few video strategies that I have found to be successful in many dealerships. They are simple, produce great results, and best of all, take little effort on the part of your dealership.

Service – Most dealerships have processes in place to sanitize their customers’ vehicles after repairs and/or maintenance are completed. Consider making a video illustrating the steps from start to finish so customers can actually SEE what you are doing, rather than try to find it in print.

Does your service department offer vehicle pickup and delivery? Show your customers! Make a video showing a driver picking up the vehicle and then returning it. If there is a loaner car involved, show not only the actual process as it happens but also the customer’s vehicle (and loaner) being sanitized, all the way up to returning the serviced vehicle to the customer.

Do you offer touchless payment options? Can the customer pay online before coming into the store? Be sure to include those features in your video to make your dealership stand out from the competition.

Sales – Most states currently allow dealerships to present and sell cars to customers both online and in store. If a customer wants to come in and kick tires, test drive or make the transaction in person, make a video illustrating what they should expect, along with the safety precautions that your dealerships take for this type of sale. This can easily be done using a salesperson along with another dealership employee acting as the customer. In this way, your dealership will not need to get permission from customers to be filmed.

If your dealership offers to deliver vehicles to the customer’s location for a test drive and delivery of the purchased vehicle, make a video illustrating this process from start to finish. This can help build trust both before and after the transaction.

I see a lot of dealerships starting to shoot great content like I’ve mentioned, but then only post their videos on YouTube or Facebook. Video is an incredibly valuable tool, but to truly maximize your ROI you must have a strategy that gets your videos in front of your audience at the right time of the buying cycle (where it will have the biggest impact). The best way to make it work is to present the videos where your customers will see them.

Your video experience should live on your website, and it should be as easy as possible for a shopper to find. Put your videos in the places where you know your site visitors will be looking since buyers won’t go out of their way during the buying cycle to view your content. To capitalize on the impact video can bring use these videos in a variety of ways:

  • Put value proposition & testimonial videos on the same page as inventory videos so consumers get to see not only how great your inventory is, but how great it would be to do business with you. The majority of consumers are looking for a dealership that they can trust, every bit as much as they are a vehicle to purchase. Don’t make them search your site to learn why you are that dealership, put it in front of them where you know they will be looking.
  • Send video emails with a landing page featuring a vehicle a customer is interested in, while also giving them the option to watch several other videos that feature your inventory, value proposition & testimonials videos. Even include your personal introduction videos, all without having to leave the page.
  • Build a trust relationship between your sales team and customers by having them send picture-in-picture videos of a vehicle a customer showed interest in, explaining the vehicle in more detail, and letting the customer know that your salesperson is a trusted resource throughout their buying process. Be sure to include this video content on the landing page experience that I just mentioned. The possibilities are endless when you utilize video to give your consumers the best experience possible.

We are currently living in an interesting time. People have many different viewpoints when it comes to the pandemic. The most important thing is to put your videos where your customers will see them, showing your customers (as well as potential customers) that you care, are trustworthy, and that your dealership is a place where they can feel safe and comfortable. These emotions are what will make a consumer choose you over the competition, and keep your current customers coming back again and again. The single most effective way to build these feelings and connections? Video.  

8 Quick & Easy Video Email Marketing Best Practices to Boost your Results

by Tim James, COO

Most consumers have a built-in fear of communicating with automotive sales professionals.  Many of the “new age” automotive retailers are trying to play on this fear by running negative ads that make automotive dealerships (and sales professionals) look like high-pressure evil people.

When a consumer does finally reach out to your dealership, using video content in your initial communications can be your opportunity to show them that they will have a GREAT experience working with you and your dealership. People buy from people they like, and video is the best way to show your potential customers why they should like you. It can be one of the most effective ways to humanize your dealership and establish trust with shoppers. 

Here are some quick tips for making the most of your video email campaigns that will increase your click-through and response rates.

1. Include the Word “Video” in the Subject Line & Avoid SPAM “Trigger Words.”

The simple act of adding “video” to an email subject line can increase open rates by 7% and can improve your click-through rate by 96%. Put it in brackets [VIDEO] at the end or beginning of your subject line to make it clear to your audience. People are more curious to see what is inside your email when it includes video and perceive the information displayed in the video to be more valuable.

In addition, the word “video” can help you avoid SPAM filters, which can be triggered for a variety of reasons, causing your email to skip recipients’ inboxes and land straight in their SPAM box. By avoiding trigger words in your email subject lines, you can dramatically increase your chances of getting beyond SPAM filters.

2. Link to the Video (or video landing page)

Unfortunately, some email providers have not started using the latest technology and this can play a significant role when you select a provider. As several email clients cannot play embedded videos, it can be better to provide a link to your video or landing page, rather than embedding it in your email.

3. Place Video Below the Email Message

Adding videos into your email will boost open rates but don’t let the video distract from your main message. An engaged audience will drop what they’re doing to watch a new video, so be sure to add it at the end of the email. By so doing, consumers will read your brief message before watching the video. Keep the text message above the video brief, as the main focus of the email should be the video.

4 Do not Send an Image Only Email

Do not send an image only email, and do not say too much in your email either. Video emails that keep it short and to the point with a word count of 50 words or less receive up to a 52% higher response rate than the same video sent with a long wordy message. 

5. Include a Call to Action

All forms of digital marketing should invite the audience to do something specific, especially when it comes to an unsolicited email or text. Make sure your videos in your emails offer value for the customer and include that critical CTA. The whole point of any message sent to a consumer is to lead them on the path that you want them to follow. Make sure the CTA is easy to understand and clearly directs them. Then ensure you take them where you promised.

6. Be Professional.

Include some basic best practices when taking your video. Have good lighting and a clean and pleasant space to stage your video. It is best to turn your phone to the side and capture the video in landscape mode. And be friendly and enthusiastic in the video (Smile).

7. Have a Variety of Video Content On Your Landing Page.

Now that the consumer has engaged with your email to watch your video message, this is the perfect opportunity for you to provide them with easy access to additional video content that really shows them that “YOU are the good guys,” and they can trust you. Rather than making the consumer search for “where should I buy it” content later in the buying cycle, present it to them now. Move the consumer along in YOUR buying cycle by including Value Proposition, Testimonial, a Personal Introduction, additional Inventory, Promotional, and New Model Test Drive videos on the same landing page as your initial video message. Let the shopper know that they can LIKE and TRUST both you and your dealership before they’ve even decided which vehicle they want to purchase.

8. Leverage The Shopper’s Data

A large number of consumers can disappear after your initial contact with them. How many times have you wondered what happened to that person that you just spoke to (who isn’t calling you back or answering your emails now)? Using a hosting company for your videos that offers detailed insights and data can make it easier to track your video success rates while allowing you to track the actions consumers take. Also, using the right video host can allow you to receive real-time notifications when your other video content (such as your inventory videos) are viewed by these same consumers. This gives you greater insight into which of your leads are still in the market and actively shopping on your website (or the popular marketplaces like AutoTrader, Cars.com, etc.), and provides you with a notification the second that they click to watch your inventory videos on these touch-points, allowing you to follow up with them at the most relevant time.

Video in email is no longer some gimmick. Consumers consistently state that video is their preference. Video has fast become a key factor in running more effective email campaigns. Adding video will breathe new life into your email marketing and is an engaging way to bring compelling content to shoppers, resulting in more appointments for your BDC and sales teams, more up-sell of recommended services for your service department, and higher CSI Scores across your entire store.

Who You Gonna Video Call?

By Tim James

According to Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, the “working-from-home” economy is likely to exist far beyond the pandemic. Employers are enjoying decreased expense in office space and increased employee productivity, while employees have more freedom with the luxury of no longer having to commute. A whopping 42 percent of U.S. employees are now working from home.

How are they able to do that? Via Video, of course.

Statistics increasingly show video as the preferred choice for consumers when it comes to media due to its viability and multiple benefits across all platforms and channels. And, during the pandemic, video has become the most used method of communication on all fronts.

Almost every company outside of essential workers is utilizing video services to efficiently continue their operations and stay in business. Video conference calls have become the norm, rather than the exception and video conferences or person-to-person video calls have exploded out of necessity.

According to Forbes, this digital pivot may become permanent – in all walks of life. Many students are having to do in-home learning and the only way some employees can continue professional development is via video. Trade shows and conferences are opting to hold virtual events First, because it is safer during a pandemic, second because it is much less expensive than in-person events, and third because viewers can choose to watch an event live, or later at a more convenient time.

Video is not going away and is certainly not losing any ground. Its popularity has exploded faster than was expected! When this pandemic eventually goes away, consumers and businesses alike will be fundamentally transformed.

As a marketing and sales tool, video will allow your team to inspire more emotion from a consumer than a text, email, or chat could ever get close to accomplishing. Think about this — when are your sales associates at their best? When they are face-to-face with a consumer, of course. An effective video marketing strategy embraces that understanding and puts your sales associates face-to-face with the consumer, even when the consumer is still at home.

Your dealership would be wise to have a video-first marketing strategy to place you in a position of dominance over your competition who may only use video as a stopgap out of necessity.

Be sure to embrace video now more than ever to take advantage of this extreme acceleration in video adoption by consumers. This will put your dealership ahead of the game and build a sound foundation from which your dealership will benefit for decades to come.

Three Tips for Great Live Video Conversations with Customers

By: Tim James

During these times, consumers are becoming more comfortable with online transactions and are much savvier about how they chose to communicate with businesses. As a result, dealers are having to utilize technologies they may not have previously embraced

Video, in and of itself, has proven to be a necessity for successful marketing for dealers. In today’s world, live video is even more important. But not everybody does it as well as they could!

A great article on Business2Community lays out some simple best practices dealerships can use while performing a live video for a prospective car buyer. These tips are great for salespeople or BDC agents who communicate with your customers.

Here are three of the top tips:

Pause! –  When you are having a conversation with someone and they do all the talking – that quickly gets old, right? A one-sided conversation is not something many people enjoy which leads to the first tip in the article, Pause!

You have the customer’s attention. You have them on a live stream and, just like selling a car in person, you need to listen to their needs and wants. You have to listen to tailor that walkaround and your conversation to supply the information they requested. Listening is also how you find out what is important to them so that you can tailor your conversation to that specific customer.

It is much more effective to listen to your customers, answer their questions, and proceed to the sale than to dominate the conversation. Take a breath. Don’t worry about the uncomfortable pause. As long as the customer is still with you, you don’t need to fill the gap with conversation. They may be digesting what you have already told them and considering their next questions. If they don’t ask any questions, you can easily prompt them by saying something along the lines of, “Should I proceed with the other features I was going to show you or did you have specific things you would like to see?” — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.

Engage – The customer didn’t agree to a live video engagement because they weren’t interested in the vehicle. The very reason that they are on a live video call with you is that they are VERY low funnel and in the market RIGHT NOW! Think about all the Internet leads your dealership gets and how hard it is to contact the majority of these opportunities. Here you not only have a customer that engaged with you but one that agreed (or requested) to do a live video call about a specific vehicle.

Perhaps something about the vehicle which they inquired about doesn’t suit their needs. Since you have them live, you can easily ask them if you could show them similar vehicles you have in stock and, essentially, show them multiple vehicles.

What’s the other option? The customer doesn’t like the one you showed them and disengages simply to move on to the next dealership. Don’t waste the opportunity to show them more inventory. You only need to ask them — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.

Eye Contact – While you may not be able to see the customer, the customer can see you. If you aren’t looking into the camera while engaging, you lose the opportunity to build rapport. Most of our communication is physical. We typically read expressions and interpret answers by how someone is looking and/or physically gesturing. In a live video, the customer can see you. By making eye contact with them, it is much more personal.

How do you do that? By looking into the camera, itself. Not just at the phone. You can practice with another salesperson beforehand to get the hang of it. When you are talking to the customer, look directly into the camera. To them, it will seem as if you are talking to them rather than seeing your eyes focused elsewhere.  — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.

Bonus Tip:

Smile – There’s magic in your smile and smiling while engaging in a video call can be one of the most important strategies for success. Smiling while on the video call will not only help you relax and improve your mood and energy, it will also help the consumer relax.  Remember, it’s not only “what you say,” but “how you say it” that matters. The video call is your opportunity to build a personal relationship with the consumer and get them to truly like you. We all know that people buy from people they like, and a simple smile while engaging the consumer is scientifically proven to improve your chances of being liked — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.  

Live video has never been more important in the sales world. Buying a car is a big decision for most customers, typically the second-largest purchase any consumer makes. Regardless of whether you are open for business completely, or only online, consumers are getting more comfortable with online shopping. If you are a veteran in the automotive industry, think about how different your communication strategy was in 2010 versus 2020.  Now imagine how different it will be in 2030. Trust me, the next ten years are going to fly by, so make sure you stay ahead of the competition and are prepared for the acceleration and adoption of this technology by consumers. Great conversations certainly lead to more sales. And live video is a highly effective way to have great conversations with your customers.

5 Pre-Production Steps for Better Videos

by Tim James, COO, Flick Fusion

Videos are consumers’ favorite type of content to see from a brand, as evidenced by the fact that 87% of marketing professionals use videos as a marketing tool. But creating a quality video requires more than just picking up a camera and shooting footage. Before you begin shooting your videos, it’s important to go through a pre-production checklist that will ensure that you get the most out of your time and investment.

Step 1: Begin with the end in mind.

What is the purpose of this video? If you’re creating a vehicle inventory video, think about the end goal. If you’re thinking “my goal is to sell the car,” that’s stating things a little too simply.

Of course you want to convert that video viewer into a customer, but not just a one-time sales customer. Your goal is to create a lifetime, loyal customer who will bring the car in for service. What’s the best way to do this?

Even in something as simple as a vehicle inventory video, you want to lay a foundation that will establish your dealership as a trusted expert and build an emotional connection with the consumer. By the end of the video, the customer should not only love the car, they should like the dealership brand.

Step 2: Who is the target audience?

Before you shoot video, understand who your most profitable customers are. This data exists in your DMS and/or CRM. Filter customers by number of visits and money spent at your dealership. Then look at the demographics and create an ideal “persona.”

What zip codes do they live in? What age groups spend the most with your dealership? What is their income level? Are they white collar or blue collar? Which groups are they affiliated with? What problems do they have?

It’s important to identify audience characteristics so you know what videos will appeal to them. Demographics can help you set the tone for your videos; whether they should be professional, humorous or heartfelt.

Step 3: Determine where the video will be displayed.

If you’re going to produce a video, be sure to maximize your investment by leveraging it across all your marketing touchpoints, including your website VDPs, 3rd-party auto shopping sites, Facebook, Google ad campaigns, email and text campaigns and more.

Also make certain that you can capture your viewers’ data, which enables you to personalize the content of the video for every viewer. This provides your customers with the most relevant experience and provides you with maximum conversion. Make sure your video host can provide you real-time notifications when your videos are being viewed by existing customers or leads.

Step 4. Identify your call to action

What is the next step that you want the consumer to take after watching your video? If it’s an inventory video, you might think the next step is to submit a lead or make a phone call. But many people who view inventory videos are still in the early stages of the car shopping process and trying to narrow down which vehicle is right for them.

If a customer is still in this phase, it would be helpful for them to view make/model test drive videos. So, a better call to action might be to encourage the viewer to watch more videos on your site. This is why it’s important that your video host is able to serve up relevant video content based on a customer’s browsing behavior.

Once a car shopper has narrowed down a make and model, the next phase of the shopping cycle is to decide where to purchase the vehicle. After your test drive videos, a good call to action might be to encourage viewers to watch your dealership’s value proposition and customer testimonial videos.

Step 5: What is the Vision?

Last but not least, this is where you plan the actual shots. Plan to shoot a lot of footage that you can use in future video projects.

Video can be re-purposed in dozens of ways for marketing and social media purposes. I recommend planning shots of the vehicles, your facility, service department, sales department and employees. Professional videographers often shoot hours of footage for a 5-minute video. You don’t have to go overboard, but you should plan to shoot dozens of 15-second clips and catalogue them so you can refer back to them easily.

These pre-production steps are an essential part of the video production process and will help you create videos that resonate with your target audience.

[Video] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 1: Which Car Is Best

In this series of video blogs, Flick Fusion COO Tim James shares Google’s 5 auto shopping moments that every dealership should know and how to take advantage of those moments to lead customers to your dealership.