digital marketing

How to Get the Most Out of Your Video Content

by Tim James

Video is a great way to engage car shoppers and there are many ways your dealership can benefit from using it to make an incredible impact during the buying cycle. Here are some simple best practice tips that work well and can help you get the most out of your video content.

1. Utilize Video Walkarounds on Vehicle Display Pages and Additional Touchpoints

A lot of dealerships shoot great walkaround videos of various inventory and then post only to their Facebook accounts. When you are already putting in the effort to get videos of your inventory, why not utilize those videos to their full extent? Customers are mainly digital-first in the modern market, and there are countless opportunities to display your videos – ones that you are likely already paying for, like your VDPs, SRPs, Autotrader, and Cars.com. With hundreds if not thousands of “in market” shoppers on these other touchpoints that you are already investing in, it makes the most sense to put your awesome merchandise walkarounds there too.

2. Repurpose video walk-around content

One of the most obvious examples is video walkarounds. The method that most BDCs or salespeople use is to make them on the fly. A lead or phone call comes in and the consumer wants more information about the vehicle and more images. The BDC or salesperson then goes onto the lot, finds the vehicle, pulls it out of the line, records a video (hopefully personalized at minimum), and then emails it to the customer. What happens when, 30 minutes later, another customer calls in with the same request? Well, the process starts over.

How much time are those employees taking to do this? My guess would be a few hours a day that they “could” be following up with opportunities. There are services out there that can reduce that time to minutes. Once a walkaround is completed, the car itself does not change but the message to different shoppers will. Rather than shooting a totally new video of the same thing, you can simply record a personalized picture-in-picture, showing your sales person talking about the features of the car that specific lead is the most interested in.   

3. Repurpose evergreen content on your website to attract more eyeballs

Another great way to repurpose content is to take your evergreen video content and reuse it elsewhere to attract more views. Let’s say that you made a video explaining the importance of a transmission flush – something that customers in your service drive don’t think of or understand. Why not take that video and make a written version of it for your website? This provides great content for customers in your area searching for that information and is also great for SEO purposes.

4. Social Media

Video can also be effective for social media purposes. All platforms now embrace video as the best content format. Using short-form videos to engage customers in their Facebook feeds (or other social media platforms) is a great way to spread the word about your store and tell your story. Some simple content ideas that you can put on your social media are: videos that show what makes your dealership unique, customer testimonials, current deals/incentives, new model test drive snippets, etc. Video doesn’t need to be complicated to be impactful on social media, just give your shoppers content you know they will be interested in an authentic way.

5. Blogs/Content Marketing

If you are writing blog content, take that blog and create a video of its message. You’ve already taken the time to do the writing, why not create a dual-use for it.

On the opposite end of that spectrum, you could take those transcribed or repurposed blogs and create an e-book for your customers out of a compilation. Say you made a video explaining the importance of the many service upsells that consumers don’t understand. Then you made blog posts from those videos. Why not create an e-book or PDF/graphic compiling all of these explanations that consumers can reference?

Keep in mind that you want your dealership to be the go-to resource for all things related to your brand and services. If you don’t provide that information, they will simply find it someplace else. And that might be from a competitor.

In the end, video content can be repurposed in several ways to help your dealership communicate with customers and improve engagement. It can also provide powerful SEO for your website and build your site into a place consumers visit before the competition for sales and service-related information. You become thought leaders for your brand which can then lead to an increase in sales and a higher percentage of service recommendation acceptance.

When it comes to video marketing it pays to take a look at the larger picture to see how you can utilize video for all of your content – and make life easier.

Capturing Customer Moments and Making them Marketing Gold

by Tim James

Today’s car buyers are usually excited to show off their new car to their friends, families, and associates, either in person or by posting a video of their new vehicle on social media. This creates a huge opportunity for your dealership to earn sales referral business while building a strong library of customer testimonials to utilize across all your online marketing strategies.  What if YOU assisted the customer with their video while they were still at YOUR store? Now the customer is sharing a VIDEO of themselves with their new vehicle, telling people about the wonderful experience your dealership provided, how happy they are with their new vehicle, why their salesperson was great and why others should buy a car from YOU.

Here is an example of how one successful dealership I know has implemented this strategy.They have an area set up with a gong and red carpet. The salespeople use their smartphone cameras to essentially interview the customer about their experience while they are excited. Best part? The salesperson is in the video WITH the customer. The salespeople work as a team and another salesperson (or manager) does the recording. The dealership gets a solid video testimonial that can be used for marketing; the salesperson gets a little juice to sell himself; and, best of all, the customer gets a video they can share with their friends and family!

You may be wondering how the dealership can get away with doing this, as there are all sorts of “potential” issues with using a customer’s video for marketing and/or review purposes without their written consent.

The dealership does one simple thing to ensure it is following rules, it incorporates a media release into its finance paperwork. This way, when the customer comes out of finance and is taking delivery of their new (or new to them) vehicle, and is excited, the salespeople can capture these memories for the customer. And the dealership can utilize those videos on social media or any other channel they wish. Will every customer agree to do a testimonial? Of course not. But If they do they sign the release in the F&I office.

This is an excellent way to build a solid list of customer testimonial videos that will grow throughout the years. Think about it. If your store sells 9 cars per day and, to be conservative, let’s say 50% decline being filmed, that still means 4-5 video testimonials a day, 120 per month… and so on. You get the picture (or video, I should say).  Now you have a library of testimonial videos to display on a testimonials page of your website, next to your inventory videos, on other third-party touchpoints, on social media, and to use as part of your online marketing strategies.

Some may think it is difficult to elicit these responses. Well, it’s not. Just follow two rules: First, train your salespeople to ask specific questions to get the required response you need; and second, always ask the customer to talk about themselves! Don’t ask them why YOU are wonderful, ask them what THEY thought about the experience. You’ll get the answers you are looking for.

If you incorporate video testimonials into your sales and F&I process and train your staff to ask each sold customer to do one, you’ll have more videos than you could desire in no time. Now, go make some videos!

Video Marketing: Strategy First

When it comes to video marketing, I see a large variety of strategies within the automotive industry. Some dealerships are hyper-focused and create their video content with a defined purpose and strategy, some have a good idea of the “type” of video content that they need to capture but no defined strategy for maximizing the value of that video through touchpoint distribution, and some dealerships simply bring out a cell phone and start aimlessly wandering around their lot, with employees capturing video of whatever they want to. While these actions are certainly a start, it is far more effective to have an overall video marketing strategy. Start by thinking about what video content will have the biggest impact on your shoppers throughout the entire buying cycle. And then figure out how you plan to distribute your content across the various touchpoints to be seen by the right shopper at the right time.

An excellent article in Rolling Stone magazine showcases advice from eight video marketing experts. All of the panelists give solid advice. But the one that stuck out to me the most was by Brian Chin, Co-Founding Partner of p3 Maine, a video production company. His advice was as follows:

I run a video agency, and far too often we see companies waste money on ineffective video content because they’ve just been told they “need video.” Put in place the correct strategy for your needs, targeting the correct audience with the right message. And if video is the way to go, create beautiful and engaging content that inspires people to take action. But strategy first.”

I’ve always believed in a “strategy first” approach to all marketing, not just video. You can save yourself so much time and money by “starting with the end in mind,” and understanding what content you need, as Brian Chin mentions. Also, by understanding the technologies that are available to you to help maximize your efforts. It’s not simply about taking video. Shooting videos is great, and it is something that data shows every dealership needs to be doing. However, videos need to be seen by the right audience at the right time to maximize their true value.

Here are three simple points to consider that can help your dealership when creating a highly effective video marketing STRATEGY:

1. How and where are you using that video? Before making any video, it helps to know exactly how you plan to use it. Ask yourself the following questions: “Is the purpose of this video to inspire an emotional response and increase engagement on a social media campaign? If so, where else would it have that same emotional value? Should it also be displayed with a specific Make or Model (or even a specific vehicle) on my VDPs?” “Is it to build trust with high, mid, or low funnel shoppers? If so, what are the touchpoints where I know my shoppers will be throughout the buying cycle and how do I make sure that all of my shoppers are presented with this video content (without them having to look for it.) “Am I trying to increase recommended service repairs?” Having solid answers to the question “how and where” is a great way to start formulating a strategy.

2. What outcome do you desire for each video?

Once you’ve determined the purpose, now ask yourself what outcome you want from each specific video. Is the video designed to increase sales? Is it to increase conversion from an ad and drive more traffic to your website or landing page? Get leads to engage with your BDC or sales team? Brand your store? There are a lot of outcomes you might expect from a video marketing strategy. But, you have to know what to expect and how to make certain that your video content is presented to your shoppers strategically before you can measure it.

3. How can you use data to improve the effectiveness of each video?

Many video platforms only show rudimentary data such as views or likes, but fail to provide valuable information about the HOW, WHO, or WHEN. And that is what is needed to make your video marketing actionable.

Everybody gets excited about having thousands of video views. Of course, if it a branding video and that was the purpose and desired outcome, that’s great! But sometimes it is just that one view that turns a video into a sale. The point is that it’s not just data, but detailed and actionable data that matters.

If you make a video specifically for Mr. or Mrs. Smith, knowing that they watched it, when they watched it, and how many times it was viewed, and being able to see what OTHER videos they watched is invaluable information for creating a correctly targeted sales strategy. Having this valuable data allows you to get the right video in front of the right shopper at the right time of the buying cycle, while also allowing you to know the exact second that one of your leads or customers is live on a touchpoint and watching one of your videos. This provides you the most strategic opportunity to reach out to them with a follow-up call.

Make sure you use a platform that allows you to capture that data and archive it in case Mr. and Mrs. Smith are not ready to buy NOW. Then you are prepared for them when they are.

These are just a few quick tips designed to show you some of the basics of how to start to incorporate a strategy into your video marketing efforts. Having videos is great but, as Mr. Chin said: Strategy first.

Video: The Content that Rules them All!

by Tim James

According to a recent study published by Wistia, consumers watched more than 23,000 YEARS of video in 2020 alone. This means more video was watched last year than the entire history of modern civilization! And it’s almost certain to continue to break records. Why? Because video transfers more information to a consumer in the least amount of time, while also creating the greatest amount of emotion when compared to any other visual medium.

Perhaps even more interesting is HOW consumers are watching video content. According to an article in Forbes, about 72% of consumers watch video content solely on their smartphones. More so than on a movie screen, their desktop, or anywhere else. New video apps and features are infiltrating the current market offering an increasing number of ways for consumers to view this content. Even Pinterest, which has historically been a single image-only site, has started to adopt video into its platform. This is why your dealership must understand that video isn’t just the future, it is the NOW.

Every industry has either begun the transfer to video or is fully engulfed in it, and the automotive industry is no different. Moving forward, high-quality and innovative video experiences on your dealership websites and in the different stages of the buying cycle will set your dealership apart from the rest when it comes to building relationships with shoppers.

Why do you think that nearly every business is scrambling to include video in their marketing strategy? Because it works, and the data is there to back it up!

Entrepreneur magazine recently featured an article stating that consumers want to, “See, Watch and Buy. In that Order.” How does this apply to your dealership website? When a consumer lands on your SRP or VDP, they are “seeing” your inventory. The next step is to “watch” the vehicle via a video. Whether that is a stitched photo video, a live video walkaround, or an interactive 360 spin, video content engages viewers and saves them from clicking through uninteresting photos and from having to read a large amount of text.

Consumers want to feel empowered to gain as much information about a vehicle as possible, as quickly as possible. Why has the test drive and product demonstration been a part of the basic steps to selling a car for decades? Because it works! And now, the technology exists to accomplish the same thing online.

The point is to make content consumers like, while also making that content in the form consumers want to consume. Then make it even better! Watching a video of a vehicle is great, but if you personalize that content and make it resonate with the customer in front of you, then you can move them further down the funnel.

It also helps to have trackable data you can use for your marketing. Use personalized videos on platforms that provide useful marketing data, and which integrate with your CRM for ease of follow-up. “Easy” doesn’t have to mean that quality suffers.

Make it easy to create videos that consumers desire, that they can view on their mobile phones, with data that integrates into your CRM so you can follow up with them appropriately. This will help turn your dealership into a marketing powerhouse that rules over any competition!

How Do Consumers Use Video In the Buying Process?

By Tim James

Dealerships sell more than just vehicles. They also sell accessories, parts, and swag. Consumers may not be interested in these other items at the time of purchase (or may not have been presented with any of these options). However, once they get home, or at some point decide they want to get their windows tinted, a bed liner for their truck, or need to upgrade a part on their vehicle — Now what? Well, that is where providing an amazing video experience comes in!

An article on MultiBriefs.com shares that there are three key stages where video is extraordinarily powerful in the buying process — no matter what a consumer wants to buy.

The three stages are Awareness, Consideration, and Decision, and they work as follows:

  1. Awareness: When a consumer decides they want to purchase any product, most go online and research it. This is when a video experience shines. Whether it be describing the benefits of this year’s newest model, or an educational video on the best bed-liners for their new truck, followed by testimonial videos to back up the claims, video will get the most information to a consumer in the most emotional way possible. By utilizing video high in the buying cycle, dealerships can present themselves as a guide for their customers, building trust and showing a shopper they are a resource to help throughout the car purchasing process.

    But a curated video experience does so much more than just give the shopper the most information about inventory possible; it also gives the dealership the most information about a shopper possible. When a dealership gets a notification that a returning customer is looking at accessories, they know it is probably for a new vehicle and can target them with value proposition videos.

    A customer is looking at parts and repairs? Target them with specials, lease offers, and new model test drive videos that show why the consumer needs to ditch their worn-out vehicle and get into something safer, more reliable. Providing this experience puts the dealership a cut above the competition.

  2. Consideration: Now that a consumer has decided they need or want one or more of these things (including parts), they then start looking where to buy them. My advice is to be that resource by providing explainer videos about the benefits of buying those items and getting them installed at your dealership. Many consumers find other retailers online or, even worse, a competing dealership where they purchase and have these items installed.

    Use your explainer videos to clearly illustrate to customers the benefits of conducting the transaction at your dealership. This could include facts such as your dealership will know exactly what the consumer needs based on the make and model of the vehicle, and that installation at the dealership is done by factory-trained technicians rather than the independent down the street.

  3. Decision – The consumer has now moved down the funnel and is ready to purchase. In this stage, videos such as customer testimonials, FAQs, and personalized video communication can convince a customer to choose your dealership rather than the competition. Customer testimonial videos are powerful. Most dealerships focus on testimonials in sales but having them in parts, accessories and service can be just as powerful when it comes to gaining trust and establishing rapport.

    FAQ videos can be used to answer common questions about products, such as “How long will it take to get the bed liner?” “How long will it take to install?” “Will I be out of my vehicle for a day or two?” — You get the point. By providing this information upfront via video, you end up with an educated customer and no longer need to explain these things to the customer. The easy way to figure out which questions to focus on when making these videos is to simply ask your service or parts department about the most common questions they get from customers. Then make videos answering those questions.

    Finally, personalized video emails and texts help establish your sales team and dealership as a trusted source. People buy from people they like, and whether they are purchasing a new car or a new set of tires, video communication is the best possible way to get consumers to trust you and buy into the fact that your dealership is the best place they can go for anything they might need regarding a vehicle.

Dealerships can sell more than just cars, and they can sell everything in a more impactful way by giving their shoppers a high-quality video experience. Consider taking your video marketing strategy to the next level with your entire inventory, from cars to bike racks and repairs, by providing the best online shopping experience to your shoppers.

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.

Become a Social Media Influencer

Did you know 92% of consumers trust recommendations from a social media influencer more than they trust advertisements? Lehel Reeves, Flick Fusion’s Director of Partnerships and Business Development, explains why dealerships and salespeople should start using social media accounts to become social media influencers.

3 Biggest Video Marketing Mistakes

By Brian Cox, president and CEO, FlickFusion

The power of video marketing can’t be denied, but not every dealership has instant success when they launch a video marketing initiative. If you don’t see significant improvement in website engagement and lead conversions from your videos, you could be making one of the following common video marketing mistakes.

  1. Lack of Distribution

Many dealerships post vehicle inventory videos only on their website Vehicle Detail Pages (VDPs). This is a mistake because your website probably isn’t the first place that active car shoppers think to visit. Car shoppers visit many websites during their research phase, including third-party automotive shopping sites, social media platforms and YouTube.

To engage these potential customers, expand your reach by expanding the distribution of your videos. Include inventory videos in your email campaigns, post them on your social media pages and feature them in video advertising campaigns. Most people spend hours a day on the Internet. Be aggressive about pushing your inventory videos out to where they are, instead of waiting for them to find your website.

  1. Don’t Leverage Customer Data & Viewing Behavior

Many dealers use YouTube as their primary hosting platform, which is a mistake. Although YouTube is a great place to post your dealership’s videos, it’s better to upload your original videos onto a smart hosting platform.

The main problem with YouTube is that it doesn’t offer in-depth analytics or share critical data about video viewers. The ability to collect and leverage video viewer data is important if you want to create a relevant, personalized video viewing experience for every prospect.

Imagine there are two car shoppers looking at inventory videos on your website. Mary is looking for a mini-van. John is looking for a truck. Based on Mary’s consumer data and previous browsing behavior, the incentives she sees displayed in a video are different than the incentives that John sees displayed in a video. Content that’s relevant to each buyer is proven to increase time spent on your website, boost search engine rankings, improve CTRs and other metrics, and produce higher quality leads.

Consumers’ video viewing behavior can also be linked to customer profiles in your CRM. This allows you to set up alerts so your sales team is notified when a customer is viewing one of your videos; whether that video is being viewed on your website, a third-party auto shopping website, social media platform or in an email.

  1. Not Enough Video Content

Many dealerships have video inventory videos, but not much other video content on their website. This is a mistake because video is the absolute best medium for engaging customers, sharing information, creating emotional connections and influencing purchase behavior.

According to Google, the video content that auto shoppers search for most are test drive videos, video walkarounds and videos that highlight vehicle feature and benefits. Showcase these videos in a virtual showroom on your website for maximum impact. Additionally, create a series of “why buy” videos highlighting your dealership’s unique value propositions, as well as customer testimonial videos.

Creating video content doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. Many video marketing platforms automate much of the creation and distribution process.

Another tip is to avoid using a single-purpose video marketing strategy. Often dealers spend a lot of money to create a video for a single marketing campaign or as a pre-roll in video ads, then fail to use that video again. Maximize the value of all your videos by including them in email campaigns and retargeting campaigns. Post them on your website and social media pages. Videos can be re-purposed many times across many channels. Get creative!

Avoiding these common video marketing mistakes should boost the return on investment from your video marketing strategy, leading to increased website engagement, lead conversions and sales.