email campaigns

Five Critical Micro-Moments for a Successful Video Marketing Strategy

In a recent study titled “Winning the Moments Before Your Dealership,” Google outlined five critical moments buyers encounter on their online journey to your dealership. For any marketing strategy, ensuring that you are in front of potential customers is imperative to maximizing its effectiveness. The same goes for video marketing. In video marketing you have to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of simply creating videos that are ineffective, which nobody will ever watch, or which are irrelevant to what you do. Knowing the type of video, along with the correct message that will attract customers and continue to guide them along the path which ends at your dealership, is what matters and will bring sales.

Google’s five critical micro-moments are decision-based and centered on where that buyer is in the car buying funnel.

They are:

  1. Which car is best?
  2. Is it right for me?
  3. Can I afford it?
  4. Where should I buy it?
  5. Am I getting a deal?

Understanding these micro-moments and applying them to broadcast video content so it engages customers, is something every dealership should do — not just for your video marketing, but for every digital marketing channel you participate in.

If you can tailor video to those moments you’re much more likely to guide customers down the “yellow brick road” that ends at your dealership, avoiding any encounters with the Wicked Witch (your competition), which could end badly for you (meaning your customer ends up at your competition).

For those of you that haven’t yet taken the plunge into video marketing, knowing HOW and WHAT TYPE of video content to produce, along with WHERE to put it, and WHY it’s important, will get you dealership off to a great start.

Of course, you won’t know what’s working and what’s not without the data to show you. We’re in an era of data-driven marketing and now have the information to make decisions based on real-time actions — to then take that data and entice and convince customers that, in each micro-moment, your dealership is the one they should choose.

And believe me, folks… it works.

Consumers today are far more likely to watch a video than they are to read or look at the 40 or more pictures a dealership has on its VDPs, whether that’s a vehicle walk-around, dealership introduction, or a personal branding video message. By simply HAVING video, you are ahead of the game. Through learning and embracing these micro-moments, along with producing relevant videos that are part of a larger video strategy designed to capitalize on these decision-making moments, you’ll be leaps and bounds in front of your competition.

Join me at the 22nd Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition on Wednesday, April 12th from 2:30-3:20 pm for my session, “Mastering Google’s Five Critical Micro-Moments with Video – Creating a “Video Marketing Strategy to Maximize the Effectiveness of ALL of Your Video Content and Deliver Measurable ROI through an Increase in Leads, Appointments, Shows and Sales.” I will show you how easy and inexpensive it is to enter the realm of video marketing. You will learn how to create a strategy and how to measure the results through accurate data while being relevant and engaging by incorporating Google’s five critical micro-moments. I look forward to seeing you in Tampa, FL.

Should You DIY or Outsource Your Video Marketing?

By: Tim James

So you’ve decided it’s time to differentiate your dealership from the competition, and that video is the way to do it. Your next probable question is, do you produce, distribute and market the videos yourself, or outsource some, if not all of these functions?

The answer to this question is, it depends. We’ve got dealers who are successfully doing both. In my experience there are three factors to consider when making this decision.

1) Motivation

If your decision to implement video marketing was arrived at rather reluctantly, then you should probably outsource. Motivation requires passion. It requires an understanding of the rewards that will be reaped from putting your time and effort towards this undertaking. It requires buy-in and excitement from your staff. It requires commitment.

I’ve talked to many dealers who spend time waffling over whether they should go the DIY video route. Here’s what I ask them: If not you, who? If not now, when?

Video is not a trend. Remember the music video, “Video Killed the Radio Star?” The actual song was released nearly two years before the music video debuted on MTV in 1981. Hardly anyone heard of the song, but once the video aired, the song became a huge hit. That was 35 years ago. Online marketing video is here to stay, and it’s just a matter of time before it kills the static Vehicle Details Page (VDP).

2) Internal Resources

The second factor to consider is what your internal resources are. Even if you’re highly motivated to launch a video marketing program, someone has to take responsibility. Someone has to take ownership to make sure it’s successful. Someone has to learn how to shoot videos, how to get the videos on the right touch-points and how to measure whether the program is successful or not.

The ‘pros’ of producing videos internally are that you already have staff at your disposal. With an established process, inventory videos should take less than 24 hours to upload.

In addition to inventory videos, it’s important to create value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos and service videos. Internal employees are in a better position to spontaneously capture a glowing customer testimonial video, and may have a better handle on how to sell your dealership’s unique value proposition than an outside entity.

However, when analyzing internal resources, be brutally honest. Are your current employees already struggling to keep up with what’s on their plate? If they are, adding new processes may be too much of a burden.

It’s possible to split the responsibilities between internal and external resources. If your in-house staff is currently tasked with taking inventory photos, it’s not much of a stretch to task them instead with shooting a walk around video. Photos can be easily extracted from video, so there is no need to do both. If you use a lot services company to take your photos, task them with shooting a video in addition to taking your photos.

If you decide to use internal resources, distribution and marketing are two important areas to be addressed. Who will be tasked with ensuring that your videos appear not just on your website, but distributed to as many touch points as possible; including third-party auto shopping sites and social media channels?

Who will be in charge of incorporating video into your digital ad and/or email marketing campaigns? Who will be in charge of collecting viewer data and using that data to increase the relevancy of your videos? Meaning, it’s important to ensure that the right video is shown to the right car shopper at the right time.

Another question to ask when evaluating internal resources is what the turnover rate is in your dealership. Are you confident that your Internet Manager or the staff in that department will be with your dealership for a long time? A potential pitfall of producing videos internally is that you’ll have to constantly train new staff.

3) Dealership Volume

Last but not least, volume is another factor to consider. How many units does your dealership move per month? The greater inventory turnover there is, the greater time investment involved and the greater commitment there must be to the video marketing process.

The good news is, a successful video marketing program will increase your overall sales volume, but for some dealers this can present its own challenges. Kia of Puyallup in Washington saw a nine percent uptick in sales after implementing a video marketing program. How many more units can you handle moving per month?

Now, is everything as clear as mud? Good! The fact is, only you can decide what’s best for your dealership. It’s easy to get excited about the idea of video marketing and want to do it yourself. But it’s important to be able to objectively analyze your motivation level, internal resources and overall volume.

I’ve seen too many instances where dealership salespeople will produce a few videos, upload them to YouTube and don’t see any increase in leads or sales. The dealer points to these paltry efforts and claims that videos don’t work.

Well, of course that level of effort doesn’t work! Producing a few videos is nowhere near the same thing as having a comprehensive video marketing program. It’s like deciding that you want to go into space so you build a shuttle in your backyard. Without an actual space program, with testing, logistics, a launch pad and experts to tell you when and where to go, you’re not likely to get very far.

Outsourcing some (or all) of your video process may involve investing a little more in your merchandising budget than you currently spend, but the end results will be well worth the investment.

No matter which direction you choose to go, the important thing is that you start now — Not next week or even tomorrow. You can start slowly if you need to, but you must start in order to find the process that works best for you and your dealership. The end will justify the means.

How to Make a Value Proposition to Die For

by Tim James

The first thing most people do when meeting someone new is to introduce themselves. This first meeting can quite easily dictate the future outcome of the relationship. If you come off as insincere or indifferent, the other party will probably not engage you again. However, greet someone with genuine interest and sincerity and you just might make a friend for life.

The same exact principal applies when introducing yourself to a customer that submits a lead or visits your website — except for one small thing – you can’t see them.

Most dealers nowadays have some sort of value proposition content that they put in front of customers. It typically appears in the form of an e-mail template or written content on the website (your “About Us” page, for example). While this is better than nothing, it is certainly not the most effective way to meet someone. Human beings are driven by their emotions. Heck, oftentimes the simple act of buying a vehicle can be emotional. A value proposition done with video has a distinct advantage over any written message – the customer can see you. Humans communicate in more ways than just speech. We use our eyes and ears and monitor everything from body language to facial expressions. These subtle cues can sway whether we believe someone is sincere, sarcastic, lying or joking. Written content cannot as effectively project any of these on to a customer. And, since you cannot see or even know who you will be meeting with these online leads — you should strive to create the best value proposition video possible.

What is a value proposition video, really? There’s a very simple answer to that question. A value proposition video is your dealership’s opportunity to convince a customer to choose to do business with you. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that in any interaction someone is being sold. This is no different. You are trying to convince (sell) the customer of the fact that you are a good choice for them. If, when creating a value proposition video, you approach it as if you were tailoring the perfect elevator pitch, you’ll have a better idea of what you should say.

Here are a few tips about what a value proposition should and should not include, along with some techniques on how to interject a little personalization into these videos.

Make it short. – No customer is going to watch a 5-minute video about how great your dealership is. Plain and simple: If you can’t describe what you do, the problem you can solve for the customer, why you are different and why they should care, in 60 seconds, you should re-evaluate your value proposition.

Stop making it about you! – Most value propositions inevitably include statements such as “We’re the best!”; “We have the lowest price.”; “We’ve been in business for 187 years,” etc. Stop that. The customer is NOT meeting you, they are in the process of deciding whether they WANT to meet you. Do you see the difference? The more you can avoid using the pronouns “We” and “Us” and “Our” the better.

While most value proposition videos try to talk to EVERYONE, make yours more personable as if you were talking to an individual. Use pronouns such as “I” and (even better) “you.” The only person that matters at that specific moment in time is that one single customer. Craft your value proposition as if you were making it for that one person. And then proceed to make your video about them. If the video is going to be displayed on your website, your dealer principal or general manager should deliver the message. If the video is designed to be sent to a customer that submitted a lead online, the message should be delivered by the person sending the e-mail. This transforms the video from a generic, impersonal piece of content to one which will have greater meaning to the person watching.

I’m not saying that you have to make an individual video for each internet lead (although that would be a very powerful tool in your sales process), rather you should have one created for each dealership employee – whether that’s a manager, salesperson, internet manager or BDC rep – that responds to and interacts with customers who submit leads. Remember, this video is NOT a “Why Buy from Me,” that’s another topic. This is a “Why Buy from Us.”

An example of a “Why Buy from Us” word track delivered in a personal way is as follows:

“I can assure you that you’ll have a great buying experience here. You’ll find a great selection of vehicles and knowledgeable sales consultants who can assist you in finding the vehicle that best fits your family’s needs and budget. Just as my other customers have, you’ll want to keep coming back after you buy your vehicle here.”

That’s one great way to deliver a dealership value proposition in a way the customer feels as if you are talking to them, and that it is not all about the dealership.

Quality counts – If you are going to make a single video to be repurposed, ensure that the video is filmed, edited and presented in a high-quality and professional manner. Simply filming a selfie while standing against a wall is like showing up to a job interview dressed in shorts and flip flops. First impressions matter — and you only get one chance to make one. So, make this one count. These may very well be the most important videos you make. Deliver them in a proper, professional way, and you’ll find that customers watch them and that they make the impact you’re searching for.

In the end, a value proposition video is not a commercial. It’s your first opportunity to convince a prospective customer why they should choose your dealership over your competition. Pulling this off successfully will start to build a relationship and trust in you and your dealership. And, once you have those, the odds of you winning the business increase exponentially.

5 tips for successful action-prompted emails

By Scott Roth and Katrina Willis

A triggered email is any message sent to an individual based on the occurrence of an event (or a non-event). Consider one of our favorite examples — the “Birthday Club” email. On your Big Day, you receive an email message from your favorite restaurant offering a 20 percent discount on your dinner tab. You click through the email to the restaurant website, make an online reservation and receive a return email confirming a table for your party of six.

That scenario involved two triggered emails — the initial Birthday Club email automatically triggered by date, and the confirmation email triggered by the action you took on the website. The interaction was seamless for the recipient — and for you as a marketer. That’s quite possibly the best thing about triggered emails: They keep working for you, even when you’re not thinking about them.

If you haven’t yet incorporated triggered email into your business plan, it’s time to start. You’ll discover it’s well worth the front-end effort to experience the back-end benefit.

As email has evolved (see “Say goodbye to mass emailing“), subscribers have developed new expectations. They expect to receive a confirmation email after they purchase a product (or book a reservation). They expect to hear from you as soon as their item has shipped. Don’t disappoint them with an untimely delay — or worse yet, no response at all.

The following tips will help you think about triggered emails differently. Consider these the initial steps toward a well-rounded, fully functioning triggered email marketing campaign.

1. Think “response”
Triggered email can refer to a variety of scenarios; from password reminders to shopping cart abandonment to whitepaper downloads. The key to using triggered email effectively is to identify points of interaction with your business and prepare pre-defined responses to different scenarios. Start with simple interactions first, and then begin looking for areas where a little customer service can impact your business — and your bottom line.

2. Take control and free IT
Your IT department has coding to do. Take control of your one-to-one communications and free IT from the email grip. It’s easy with a program that gives you visibility into marketing campaigns and allows you to make changes on the fly to improve subscriber response. You can pause, change and restart your email marketing campaign without missing a beat. No IT intervention necessary.

3. Get them close
Research consistently shows that reducing the number of clicks required to take action on your site increases responsiveness. For example, instead of linking to a general product landing page, link to a page in your triggered email message that highlights the accessories directly related to a recently purchased product. 

4. Seize the opportunity
Emails triggered in response to website activity are highly anticipated by subscribers. Take advantage of getting in front of customers by offering an upsell, advertising a promotion or presenting a marketing call-to-action. Think of the wildly successful approach — “if you enjoyed this, you might like this.” Just make sure your marketing offer doesn’t overshadow your triggered message.

5. Look at the big picture
It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of your triggered campaign reporting. Start measuring your triggered email effectiveness by looking at aggregate results. Is your overall campaign contributing incremental revenue or leads? Are your customer service calls decreasing?

Effective triggered campaigns keep subscribers engaged and make continued contributions to your bottom line. You can’t beat a program that keeps working while you sleep! You owe it to yourself, your subscribers and your bottom line to automate your digital communications plan with triggered email.


This Time, It Is Personal

When you send out direct marketing materials, be they postcards, letters or emails, how personal are they? You’ve certainly abandoned the “Hello Valued Customer” greeting for a first name… but is that where it stops? Are you using past purchase history, geographic information, age and income levels and such to create truly personal messages and offers?

The database technology the drives today’s direct marketing — and the digital printing and data-driven email marketing that make the data come to life — allows for a level of personalization that we could only dream of a decade ago. And these technologies open up new doors for the smart marketer — and give us all a new responsibility — to make good use of that data.

This means not offering a minivan to the 24-year-old single male, or the two-seater sports car to the mother of three. It means targeting the customers who bought big SUVs from you 3 years ago with messages about the new hybrids or other vehicles that will get them out of that gas guzzler. It means being smart — and that will lead to profits.

D. Jones
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
SmackDabble, LLC

Experimenting with the Devil

It’s been said, “the devil is in the details.” Which means, of course, that the difference between success and failure is often something small and seemingly insignificant. This is absolutely true when considering the effectiveness of your dealership’s marketing. Try experimenting with the following little details and you may realize some huge gains in your return on investment.

Timing. Sending your email campaign out first thing in the morning? Try mid-afternoon or midnight for different results. Or trying sending the message on a different day of the week or time of the month. All of these things will make the difference.

Personalization. Have you made an effort to make your direct marketing personal? Does that personalization stop at “Dear John” or are you using everything you know about a prospect to make their communications specific to them?

Email Formatting. Not all emails are created equal. You’ve got the full graphic and multimedia capabilities of HTML or the more traditional, potentially more personal, all-text email. They each have their place. Experiment with when and where you use each format to try and maximize results.

Offers. Which drives more traffic? $500 customer cash or 1.9% financing? How about a $50 bill just for test driving? How about $100? These little details can make a huge difference.

Expiration dates. Trying to drive immediate response, toy around with a 24-hour-act-now offer. Or try stretching it out to 3 or 4 weeks. Again, different timing will drive different responses from different customers.

The difference between mild success and rousing, ring-the-bell success can be found in these little devilish details. Experiment with them and you may very well find the results you’ve been looking for.

D. Jones
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
SmackDabble, LLC

What is the future of e-mail?

From eMarketer, May 27, 2008

An old digital format still has plenty of life left

Compared with today’s virtual worlds, e-mail is solidly Web 1.0—an almost archaic communication channel.Yet e-mail works, and marketers and advertisers keep putting it to new uses. Moreover, consumers—whose opinions are the ones that matter—genuinely like e-mail. Nearly three-quarters of adult e-mail users in North America said they used it every day, according to an April survey conducted by Ipsos for Habeas.

Two-thirds of adult respondents said they preferred e-mail for communicating with businesses. Just as many—and this is the important part—said they expected to still prefer e-mail five years from now.

Mode of Communication Preferred by Adult Internet Users in North America When Dealing with Businesses, April 2008 (% of respondents)

“Far from being eclipsed by Web 2.0 and other emerging communications methods, consumer expectations suggest that e-mail will be the workhorse channel around which future online communications will revolve,” said Des Cahill, CEO of Habeas, in a statement.

That is not to say that consumers are ready for random, untargeted e-mail. Opt-in is still key. Consumers are even willing to help marketers custom-tailor their messages. More than 88% of respondents said they would like more choices in e-mail content and frequency, including options on advertisements and special offers.

So if e-mail is set to remain a consumer favorite for the next several years, that must mean e-mail ad spending will grow during that time, right?

Yes and no.

eMarketer predicts that e-mail ad spending in the US will hit $492 million this year, then increase by 55% to $765 million by 2012.


US Online Advertising Spending, by Format, 2007-2012 (millions)

And while e-mail accounts for only about 2% of all online ad spending, eMarketer predicts that percentage will actually drop to only 1.5% of online ad spending in 2012, despite the growth in dollars spent. The amount spent on other formats will dwarf what is spent on e-mail, thanks to its low cost.

US Online Advertising Spending, by Format, 2007-2012 (% of total and billions)

E-mail is cheap marketing. The pricing scales well, too: The cost of sending a million e-mails is little more than the cost of sending a thousand. However, this can also cause problems.

“E-mail is so inexpensive that it lulls many marketers into underestimating its influence on entire campaigns and a company’s brand,” said David Hallerman, senior analyst at eMarketer.

Weekly ISM Checklist

from, posted 6/3/08

Now for the weekly check list.  ISMs need to be completelting these items on a weekly basis and reporting to their management on their progress of each of these items.  Following this task list regularly will greatly increase your success: 

Weekly Check List

Date _______

1. __ Visit dealership website. Call toll free and other phone numbers to ensure they’re working and being answered properly.

2. __ Check AutoTrader,,, and/or other third party website photos, pricing information, and phone numbers.

3. __ Blind shop competitors selling both similar and different makes and models.

4. __ Post any upcoming Events and Specials on website. Be careful about posting any future discounts or pricing – those should be only posted once they are on, or when they are about to end to instill urgency.

5. __ Schedule broadcast email once per month, at the beginning of the third week of the month. Preferably, send on Tuesday or Thursday afternoon. Always have something for the customer first and foremost – give them a compelling reason to open your email.

6. __ Schedule automated targeted email campaigns to existing customers, including interests, specials, birthdays, etc.

7. __ Check with vendors to see if there are duplicate addresses they are sending leads to, to former employees, etc..

8. __ Test templated emails to see how they are arriving to customers.

9. __ Check your site for manufacturers compliance or non-compliances issues.

10. __ If you find any issues, send an email to your vendor (so you have it in writing), cc-ing your GM or ID, and immediately follow up with a phone call. If the issue is not resolved in 24 hours, re-send the email, and cc you GM or ID. They should take it from there.

Following these processes and checklists will help you maximize you efforts and success! Good luck.

The Power Of “Thank You”

As our society speeds along ever faster and communication is channeled through one technology or another – all this powered by the internet and instant access to the totality of man’s accumulated knowledge, of course – common courtesies seem to be falling by the way side. So much so, that even a simple “thank you” is often hard to come by these days.

And that breakdown creates an opportunity for the savvy marketer. And it’s a simple one to deliver on. Whenever a customer or prospect stops in, whether it be for a test drive, to make a purchase, get their oil changed or just to say hello… say thank you. Follow up with a quick note, email or phone call. All are fine and they let your customer or prospect know their time and attention are valued. It’s simple to do and it’s simply good business.

So remember to say “thank you.” Do it for of the goodness of your heart, for your respect for your fellow man and for your bottom line.

Thank you.

D. Jones
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
SmackDabble, LLC