seo

Win Business by Helping the Customer On Their Journey

In my last blog I discussed micro-moments – the critical moments, as defined by Google, in a customer’s car buying journey. I also covered the importance of having a strategy that caters to and attracts a customer’s attention at each touch point.

The 5 moments Google defines as important are: Which car is best? ; Is it right for me? ; Can I afford it? ; Where should I buy it? And, Am I getting a deal?  

In this blog, I’d like to share exactly which types of video you can create to cater to buyers at each of those critical moments. More importantly, I want to share the secret to “mastering the moments” using video content.

As you know, a successful marketing strategy isn’t about simply providing a car buyer with content, it is using the content that the car buyer is looking for to attract them into your sales funnel while moving them from stage to stage throughout the entire buying cycle. This is no different with Video Marketing.

One of the biggest mistakes I see dealerships make is to satisfy the consumer’s quest for a particular type of information (moment) in a video and then leave it up to the consumer to search and find the information that is now critical to the next moment.

The secret to “mastering the moments” is to make certain to provide the content (or quick access to the content) for the next “moments” at the same time you are satisfying the current moment. In this way, you make it easy for the shopper to move from one moment to the next, become a trusted source of information to the shopper and keep them in your sales funnel.

 

  1. Which car is best? – This phase is typically the beginning of any car buyer’s journey. The moment can be as quick as seeing a car they like and deciding they want it; to as long as knowing they need a new car, but having no idea which will work for them. Of course, consumers have many choices in vehicle brands and your objective at this point is to convince a shopper that your brand is the best decision for them.

    This moment is heavily dominated by OEM advertising, as brands compete for return and conquest buyers. Unfortunately, you aren’t just competing against other brands, you are competing against other dealerships that offer the same brands that you offer as well.  This means that you must provide the same (or similar) content as your OEMs so that you will attract the car buyers to your “path to the sale.”  To help the customer make that decision about “which car is best?” be sure to market your own Model Review and Model Comparison videos.This phase is also heavily influenced by the shopper’s peers and automotive experts, so Review Videos and video content containing “user experience” from “other shoppers” are great types of videos to market at this phase as well. Shoot a couple of quick videos of a new customer talking about their experience with a previous brand and why they chose you (your brand) this time, versus the brand they were driving.Most importantly, now that you’ve satisfied the shopper’s quest for information at this moment, make it easy for the shopper to move on to the next moments by having your “Is it right for me”; “Can I afford it”; “Where should I buy it”; and “Am I getting a good deal” content available at the same time and from the same location as your “Which car is best” content.  Another important trick at this time is to also ask the shopper if they would like a “personalized walkaround” of any particular Model, Trim, or a specific vehicle from your inventory.

 

  1. Is it right for me? – Now that a shopper is feeling confident about their direction after their research in the previous moment, they need to start looking at specific vehicle features to make certain that they match their wants and needs. You can easily move the shopper from the “Which car is best” moment to the “Is it right for me” moment by having New Model Test Drive, Trim Specific Features & Options, and VIN Specific Inventory Videos available for the shopper to watch at the same time they are watching their “Which car is best” video content.This is another great time to utilize the “Request a Personalized Walkaround” call to action, as mentioned above. It is at this moment that the shopper will start having some very real questions that only the dealership can answer.

 

  1. Can I afford it? – Now that you’ve moved the shopper through the “Is it right for me” moment and they can visualize themselves owning a particular vehicle, you can make it extremely easy to move the shopper to the “Can I afford it” moment by having content such as Rebates, Incentives, and Special Pricing dynamically display on each video that is relevant. Make certain that this content is able to update in real-time so that it can be continually updated without having to create new video content.You can include quick access conversion widgets on your videos such as Get Pre-Approved, Receive a Lease Quote, Value Your Trade, etc., so that the shopper doesn’t have to leave the video of the vehicle that they are interested in to go searching for their “Can I afford it” answers.  The easier you make the process for a shopper, the more shoppers will stay in your pipeline, trust you for their information, and will not have to venture off to go looking for the information they are seeking.

 

  1. Where should I buy it? – Now we get into more familiar video marketing territory. This stage is where “Why Buy from Us”; “Why Buy from Me”; and “Why Buy from Them (Testimonial) videos become extremely important. We know that people buy from people they like, and you have the ability at this moment to make a real emotional connection with a customer via video. Rather than simply being a website, or generic dealership, a good video can easily sway a customer into giving you the first crack at their business. Remember, this moment doesn’t necessarily start at the end of the buying cycle, the shopper is looking for someone to trust throughout the entire buying cycle.  Each of these videos should in fact be included for each moment, along with all of the previously mentioned videos.Again, don’t make the consumer think about what they want to do next and then have to go find the content. Have the content there and lead the consumer from moment to moment.Once the shopper does reach out to you with any question throughout the entire buying cycle, the use of Lead Response and Appointment Confirmation videos will have a huge impact on building that trust relationship with the shopper and satisfy the “Where should I buy it” moment  through the relationship that you’ve built.

 

  1. Am I getting a deal? – If a customer has followed your lead throughout their car buying journey, the answer to this question, while important, almost becomes insignificant. People are willing to pay more for a vehicle if they feel comfortable with the business, like their sales person, and have a great customer experience.If, at this stage, you have provided the shopper with an excellent experience; and you focus your efforts on reassuring a customer that you will continue to provide them with an excellent experience after their purchase; you should be able to win their business — even if a competitor is slightly less.That said, Google states in their study that 50% of shoppers with mobile while standing on a competitor’s lot. So, not only is it important to have your Inventory Videos (as well as Testimonial Value Proposition videos) on your VDP Pages. It is also important to have your competitor’s Geo-Targeted so that you can present a “last chance” offer to a shopper when they watch your videos from one of your competitor’s lots — and even receive an alert from your CRM if your video data is integrated with your CRM.

 

While not all-inclusive, this list should get you off to a good start as far as having content available that helps consumers answer the questions posed in these five moments. And this will help to position your dealership at the top of the food chain for their business.

Why Video Is Important For Your Marketing Strategy

by Brian Cox

When businesses ponder how to increase their presence on search engines, they typically turn to SEO strategies. Content marketing has always been a large part of any SEO strategy. It’s a given that the more fresh, relevant and unique content you produce, the better chance your online properties will have of showing in search engine results. According to an article by Search Engine Land, in the past, when considering an SEO plan, the primary type of content marketers thought of was text. As consumer behavior changes, however, visual content is becoming increasingly important.

According to the article, a Google study that tracked consumers’ points of influence on their path to purchase, found that 64 percent of consumers were influenced by video they saw on YouTube – 2/3 of which were “how-to” and “product visualization” type video. These videos match the content type that auto dealers use. In fact, according to the study, 60 percent of consumers reported that online digital marketing factored into their path to purchase. And a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that experts are now advising marketers to move 10% to 25% of TV ad dollars to online video.

Today’s vehicle shoppers have many decisions to make along the path to purchase. A consumer who visits an online shopping portal will typically be presented with a list of vehicles that meet their criteria in order of price, lowest to highest. They will then start filtering out vehicles from those results based on such things as mileage, condition, vehicle descriptions and pictures and video provided by the dealer. Vehicles with no (or poor) descriptions or ones that lack photos and video have a greater likelihood of being passed over. Vehicle description pages that contain rich details including images and video stand a far greater chance at seeing customer engagement. It’s hard to believe that anyone would disagree with this very basic assessment.

The same idea translates to search engine optimization. The goal, obviously, in any search engine optimization strategy is to be found whenever a consumer makes a relevant search. According to Search Engine Land, however, that’s not what the real goal is (or should be). Simply showing up does nothing except satisfy a marketer or SEO practitioner’s ego. The true goal is click-through-rate. The more opportunities you can provide a customer who is searching for a vehicle to find your dealership and/or vehicle (i.e. the more times you appear within a given search), the greater the likelihood will be that they will click on a link to your content versus your competition. To accomplish this, you must have a presence on all the consumer touchpoints in every medium possible – video, images and text – thereby offering more content for a search engine to crawl and deliver within the results.

The bottom line is that consumers are using more resources than ever before when shopping for a vehicle. Ensuring that the type of content a consumer wants to see is present on every touchpoint is essential to increase web traffic and consumer engagement. Don’t get me wrong, simply throwing money into video marketing is not what I advise. You would be wise to invest in a comprehensive video strategy that maximizes the exposure, quality and effectiveness of your video content. It will make the difference and allow you to dominate all of your online marketing channels.

In Marketing, New Trumps Used Every Time

by Brian Cox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Let Your Video Become a Flash In the Pan

by Brian Cox

There’s no doubt that video marketing, in general, has become increasingly important in today’s world. Google has the search market cornered which is why, as marketers, it is important to pay close attention to the changes they make. However, did you know it’s even more important to pay attention to the second largest search engine in the world? You might think that I’m referring to Bing but, in fact, the second largest search engine is YouTube. Thus the importance of video for SEO.

Dealerships have increasingly embraced video in various degrees for years – from simple stitched videos to professionally created live walkarounds. There’s no doubt that consumers love video. In fact Google’s recent automotive study indicates that over 80 percent of car shoppers will watch a vehicle video and then take immediate action.

The challenges that face car dealerships when it comes to creating videos are the same as they have always been – time and money. There are many solutions that exist for car dealerships in video marketing. I’m fairly certain that you would agree that ANY video is better than no video. And you may even believe that all video is equal. Well, with this blog, I hope to help dispel those erroneous thoughts.

Let’s start with the fact that live video is the most effective (which it is). I don’t think any dealer would deny that, in a perfect world, they would have video walkarounds for every one of their vehicles. The infrastructure and format of your video is just as, if not more important than the quality of it. Some providers use flash-based video which allows them to offer video services to their dealer clients at a lower price point… and, on the surface, there is no visible difference between a flash video and a real video. In reality, however, there are huge differences.

Flash videos are self-contained videos that require a player (like Adobe Flash Player) or a compatible web browser with a plugin. It wasn’t too long ago that flash video was the de facto standard. Technology, however, has changed. Consumers are increasingly accessing the Internet and websites using mobile devices. Guess what’s not compatible with those? You got it, flash video. In fact, in mid-July of this year, Google itself announced that it would start issuing warnings to people attempting to access websites containing flash with the statement “Uses flash. May not work on your device.” Chances are really good that a consumer coming across a website or video that receives this message will probably not continue, but rather seek their answers elsewhere.

Your website will certainly not benefit from video if your audience is not viewing it. In fact, flash video isn’t supported by any Apple device, nor Android versions 4.1 or higher, according to Google. These devices account for a HUGE share of the mobile market. Flash video is also not compatible with some third party inventory sites, and it also has problems with syndication to social networks and other touch points that consumers are on.

Real video, on the other hand, offers a few very important distinctions as web developers gravitate towards such things as HTML5 with mobile capabilities and syndication. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, “Nearly half of the U.S. population has a mobile phone with Internet access, and one out of five page views on the web happen on a mobile device – a number that is growing every month.” Needless to say, if you are using flash, you are already costing yourself 20 percent of potential traffic.

As a dealer, how do you know what kind of video you have? The answer is if your videos are syndicated across the web, viewable on a mobile device or tablet and the search engines can see them, you are doing the right thing and have real video. If not, you most likely have flash.

One of the largest advantages to real video is semantic search. Search engines don’t have the capability of indexing flash video. Real video, properly tagged and built using a semantic structure, can be indexed. Not only can they be crawled by search engines, but the search engines will read each video as an individual web page. This increases your page rankings. Last, but certainly not least, real video has the ability to be syndicated everywhere. All of those touch points that consumers use when vehicle shopping can display your video and increase the reach and impact of your video marketing. Of course more exposure brings more traffic viewing your inventory. And the more traffic your inventory receives, the more leads, conversions and sales you’ll see.

The bottom line is that flash video is a bad solution for video marketers. Flash video may be cheaper than real video, but what are you losing in the end? Just because it’s a shiny object and looks pretty, doesn’t mean that you should be using it. Real video offers businesses the ability to have a bigger footprint with their video marketing. It increases the effective of any marketing and the likelihood that a consumer will want to AND have the ability to watch it. This is the whole exposure aspect of real video plus real syndication. It equals more traffic, which equals more leads. The few dollars you may save by going the flash video route will pale in comparison to the profit you’ll lose from customers who never see your video or visit your dealership.

Google+ Pages Coming For Businesses

A lot of Google news this week.

Where are the Google+ company “Pages” for brands, something similar to Facebook’s “Fan Pages?” They’re coming apparently.

Google’s head of Commerce and Local Jeff Huber confirmed what some people were hoping for: the imminent arrival of Google+ pages for entities. This was in a comment on Mike Blumenthal’s blog:

And pre-emptively answering a question — yes, we will have (smb) business profile pages on Google+. I can’t announce a launch date yet, but we want to make them *great*, and we’re coding as fast as we can.

via Search Engine Land

Facebook Page SEO

Facebook has teamed up with BrightEdge to educate the industry on Facebook page SEO.

Titled ‘Facebook for Social SEO,‘ the document gives brands and companies tips on the best practices to drive organic search performance for Facebook pages. We’ve embedded the white paper below. And the two companies will also conduct a webinar this month designed to get top brands better educated on improving rank of their pages.

via Techcrunch