social media

Why Face-to-Face Conversations are More Important than Ever

By Timmy James

 

By nature, humans are social creatures. Need more proof? One of the worst punishments our legal system has come up with is solitary confinement. Not only is this dreaded by inmates, but it can also affect their mental health. Whether an introvert or an extrovert, we all crave personal interaction.

Like many of you, I am currently working from home. And, at the end of one day last week I had an impromptu meeting with one of my customers. The meeting started on the phone but, after 15-20 minutes of the call, we decided to switch to a live-stream one-on-one video call. While we continued talking about the business matter, the conversation quickly changed into a personal chat. Just two people who have been working from home for many days now. While we both interact with people throughout the day, most interaction is via the phone or text. When we switched to the live-streaming video call, emotions changed into joy and excitement that we were having a personal, live, face-to-face interaction with an individual outside of our homes.

Even before this health crisis, people wanted to have live interaction. That’s exactly why sales managers are renowned for telling salespeople to “Just get them in.” Of course, at the moment, we have a quandary. Many salespeople are out of work, CRMs are still spitting out the same messages and consumers are still shopping for vehicles… but nobody is answering them.

We’re dealing with a situation unlike anything seen since the measles or polio breakouts decades ago. The entire country is hunkered down, sitting at home with their families. And many are very bored. What do people do when they are bored? They tend to accomplish tasks they’ve been meaning to but have not yet found the time for. And guess what? This could very easily include researching a vehicle purchase. 33 states have either halted or limited vehicle sales forcing salespeople to stay at home. However, in many cases, their CRMs are still receiving leads. OEMs are offering aggressive incentives and interest rates are low.

Car sales are all about emotions. That’s why the standard has always been to get the customer to test drive, kick tires, breathe in that “new car” smell and take mental ownership. However, before any of that can happen, a salesperson or BDC agent needs to create rapport to get that specific customer to choose their dealership.

Customers currently don’t have the luxury of visiting the dealership. But you can approach that level of face-to-face contact with live video chat. It builds the rapport needed for the customer to decide who to buy from and what to buy. Your dealership can interact with these customers in a personal way while building that emotional relationship with the salesperson, the dealership AND the vehicle. And what do those interactions produce when doing this via live-streaming video calls? The same as it produced for me and my customer — Joy and excitement. It helps move that customer down the line to the sale.

Many dealerships are experimenting with virtual test drives and video calling to provide that in-store face-to-face experience right now and having amazing success. But like all sales processes, it must be done right to have the most effective impact. Many of the popular video calling platforms out there require both users to install plugins or download the same apps to assure cross-platform and cross-operating system compatibility. These platforms are great for organized meetings, entertainment, or educational purposes. But when you need to engage a customer or a lead from your website, or for email/texting communications, the best video calling technology to utilize is one that allows a “one-click” audio and video communication to work inside web pages through direct peer-to-peer communication. This eliminates the necessity to install plugins or download apps and ensures an instant video connection; no matter what device or platform the customer or lead is utilizing.  This could alter the entire experience completely and make the difference between a GREAT video experience, and no communication or experience at all (another lost lead).

So, consider using live video chat to have that face-to-face interaction with your customers that is very much desired, especially right now. Combined with good storytelling through strategic vehicle and dealership marketing videos, it could easily slingshot your dealership into a consumer’s first choice. Not just in these times when it is even more crucial to communicate this way, but also when everything goes back to normal. And now is the time to start planning for the future. You don’t want your competition to beat you and take your customers away!  Get that competitive edge and create those loyal customers now!

3 Video Marketing Applications for a More Profitable New Year

By Tim James

Video has historically played a major role in car dealerships; from training with VHS tapes, to video messaging, text and Live Video Calling. As 2019 draws to a close and we approach 2020, it is clear that when it comes to consumer engagement and digital marketing, video is center stage.

There are many video marketing statistics and trends floating around currently. It is easy to get lost and it can seem a daunting task to stay head of the trends. In this short blog I have put together 3 practical ways to successfully incorporate video into your 2020 marketing strategy.

Communication

Why struggle wondering if your emails are opened and read? According to multiple reports an engaged audience will drop what they are doing to watch a video. In fact, email open rates increase by 7% if you include the word “Video” in the title.

Focus on quality! I always hear people saying, “keep your video short”. The fact is you should put your stopwatch away and focus on delivering high-quality information in an upbeat and emotional presentation. Too often people try to rush their presentation and simply don’t provide an educational or emotional presentation.

Nothing will lead to someone closing your video sooner than if you sound like you are just trying to rush through it, versus truly trying to assist them. If you are providing a great experience in your video message, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  Yep…someone stops watching.  But what about all of those who are truly interested in your message? If you are providing good (relevant) information, and delivering it in an emotional manner, the numbers show that a significantly high percentage of your email (and text) recipients will watch 100% of your video message.

Another good statistic to know is that adding video to your emails can increase click rates by 300%.

Vehicle shoppers appreciate the informational and emotional value of video. Live video calls and video chat are effective at increasing engagement and convert more website traffic to lot traffic as shoppers can now talk to one of your professionals “live,” from wherever they may be.

This does wonders for customer experience by offering a truly unique perspective of transparency. Consumers don’t need to wonder about availability if they can see the vehicle in a video behind you in real-time.

Website Conversion

Users spend 88% more time browsing a website if it has video. Video content humanizes your dealership, builds trust, and inspires higher funnel shoppers to actually pick up the phone and call you with their questions. Video on your landing page or VDP will increase conversion by 80%.

Inventory videos transfer more information. In addition, they help your VDP pages create more emotion from potential car buyers, much more than pictures and text alone. Website videos increase organic search traffic by 157%. You are then far more likely to appear on Google’s page one, driving more online shoppers to your website and into your sales funnel.

Social

For all social platforms , video has 12 times more shares than text and image alone and engagement is 13.9% higher if your posts include video.  How long should your videos be on social media? 30 to 90 seconds is the ideal length for social video marketing. But again, remember that this is because the viewers aren’t there just for your video.  They are socializing and have a short attention span (oh look, a squirrel). But you still don’t want to sacrifice quality for time.  The quality of your content always comes first.

What about the future? 360 degree interactive presentations and Augmented Reality are predicted to be areas with the most growth as marketers enjoy the ease of creating this type of content and it is becoming less expensive.

If your dealership isn’t using video in its vehicle merchandising or customer interactions, you could be missing out on opportunities. Let the consumer experience your inventory they way they want to experience it.  If you limit their options, you will also be limiting your leads.  It’s all about selling more cars and increasing service revenue. Video can help any dealership accomplish both with very little time, effort and cost.

If you don’t believe me, give it a try. I promise you will see the results and will continue to use video marketing at every possible customer interaction opportunity.

How to Make the Most of Your Marketing in a Down Market

Consumers have grown tired of the countless vanilla marketing messages many companies keep sending (and yes, that includes OEMs and dealers.) However, the marketing tactic that is enjoying success is relevant marketing directly aimed at a specific individual. Relevance is the key to winning today’s consumers. But, it’s not only about relevance, it also involves delivering that message in an engaging manner. Well, how do you best do that?

A recent article in Forbes shared that while ad spend is up 22%, the majority of marketing channels and methodology often produce an open rate of less than 19% and a click-through rate under 3%.  Video, however, performs much better. The article shares a story about a business that decided to shift its budget away from traditional marketing messages and instead use personalized video messages. The videos are personalized and available to the consumer on any platform. The results are incredible, with a 98% open rate and a total transformation in terms of reduction in early churn.

Personalization is vital to capturing a consumer’s attention. And there is no more effective way than through the medium they prefer: video.

There are many pieces to each dealership’s marketing puzzle. If your dealership is looking to cut its marketing budget because of a downturn in sales, first consider which pieces of that puzzle produce sales that can be tracked versus those that are shiny objects.

The great thing about sending personalized videos to prospects and current customers is that consumers tend to engage, and it is also one of the easiest types of marketing content to produce, the most affordable and performs the best.

It doesn’t matter which platform your prospective car buyers choose to engage with your dealership; videos perform the same regardless of platform. Videos emotionally connect with people and make them feel more special than an automated template shooting out from a CRM. Consumers can smell those a mile away. A personalized video, however, addresses them by name and shares the exact information they are seeking on the exact vehicle. Which is going to get a warmer reception and build rapport faster?

People like to do business with businesses (and people) that they like. As long as the customer is hiding behind an email address, or ignoring your phone calls, you are simply more noise that is not specifically relevant to them.

There is a reason personal videos made relevant to each individual customer perform better than other forms of communication. The biggest one being that the consumer recognizes that, while they may receive similar auto-responder templates both at the beginning and during the follow-up process, YOUR dealership chose to take the time to address them on a personal level with a video that answered their questions and welcomed their business.

Stop shooting for 3% response rates and think bigger. Video not only engages more customers; it generates more sales and builds loyalty as an excellent side benefit.

Video is Everywhere!

There are a huge number of travelers on domestic flights each year. Southwest Airlines, not unlike others, offers these passengers paid wi-fi, but, more importantly, in-flight entertainment. The standard of that entertainment has changed immensely over the years. In the not too distant past, flight attendants collected discarded newspapers and magazines and offered them up to the next group of fliers for ‘entertainment.’

Today is vastly different due to the mediums now available and advances in technology which has effectively changed people’s desires. Take a look at this image.

It is a current pamphlet in every Southwest Airlines seatback notifying passengers that there is “in-flight entertainment.”

Let’s do a quick dive into these. Five types of “free” entertainment are promoted– movies, on-demand TV, messaging, live TV and music. How many of these are video-related items? 3 out of the 5!

Guess what folks? Airlines have chosen video as the preferred method of entertainment. I bet that there were focus-groups galore before they decided what amenities they wanted to adopt and market. You better believe they did that before adopting the technology along with the related expenses!

Of course, some passengers bring their own newspapers and magazines (because the airlines don’t offer them anymore, except for their own in-flight magazines). Passengers also bring digital reading material and… surprise… iPads with movies (hint: videos)!

There are many things these days that can be used to entertain people while stuck in a giant tube 15,000 feet in the air –all looking for things to … God help me… pass the time. Personally, I prefer to sit in the first-row isle seat — I like to be the first one OFF the plane, rest my cowboy hat on my knee, and…watch movies that I’ve downloaded specifically for the flight.

If you are hesitant or uncertain about the impact video can have on your customers, just be observant on your next airplane ride and see what the majority of people are doing to pass the time… I would bet I know the answer.

If you ever travel with a cowboy hat, rest it crown up on the seat back tray to avoid any damage. Be sure to thank the flight attendants and, once you see that everyone is watching some sort of video content, take a break from any in-flight entertainment you may be enjoying, and look out the window once in a while. The Grand Canyon looks awesome from high in the air. The World is an amazing place to see!

Master Video Fundamentals Before Going Social

When I talk to dealers about video marketing, one question I get asked a lot is “What about social?” In particular the marketing folks want to know what types of videos they should make to post on their social media platforms, which social media platforms drive the best results and how best to engage their social audiences.

These are all valid questions for advanced video marketers. But if you are just starting a video marketing strategy these are the wrong questions to be asking.

The primary goal of your video marketing strategy is to increase lead conversions on your website. For the first six months to a year, that is all you should be focusing on.

A secondary goal for your video marketing strategy may be to drive more customers to your website, or increase engagement with your social media followers. But you should not even attempt these goals until you have mastered the fundamentals of your primary goal.

After all, what is the point of driving traffic to your website if you are not converting visitors to leads once they get there?

Let’s say you post a funny video on your Facebook page and someone clicks through to your website. When they get to your website, all they see are static photos and Vehicle Details Pages (VDPs) with text only. That’s not what this person is expecting! You caught their attention with video, you got the click-through with a video, but when they get to your website there’s no videos!

When it comes to video marketing, I always recommend wading in slowly. Start with your inventory videos and master the fundamentals before you do anything else. That’s not to say the branding and fun stuff isn’t important. It is, but the goal of those videos is different than the goal of inventory videos.

With inventory videos, your goal is to present your inventory to a potential buyer just like the best salesperson in your store would. Your goal is to create emotional desire in a car shopper, so they take the next step and reach out to you.

How to Master Inventory Videos

Inventory videos are powerful because they have the potential to change a car shopper’s mindset. Most consumers visit your website hoping that your dealership has the vehicle they want. A dynamic inventory video can change that paradigm to make the consumer want and take mental ownership of a vehicle that you already have.

This paradigm shift is backed up by metrics. Overall engagement on a VDP featuring a live walkaround video jumps an average of 600 percent versus engagement on a static VDP. This translates into an approximate 30 to 35 percent increase in leads, according to feedback from our dealer customers.

The first step in mastering inventory videos is to come up with a process for creating them. You could assign someone internally, or use an outside lot services company or a video production company. Come up with a template for what should be included in each video, such as:

  • Front, side and rear view shots of the vehicle
  • Interior shots of the dashboard and infotainment systems
  • Interior shots of the front and rear passenger seats
  • Close ups of tires
  • Shots of special features, e.g. roomy trunk, video screens in the back, back-up cameras

Additionally, try to add one or two “why buy here” value proposition statements, such as promoting your fast and easy financing options, or your no-hassle shopping experience.

Be sure to add in banners promoting special offers such as 0% down or cash back. Finally, don’t forget your phone number and a call to action! A car shopper should be able to click on the video and have the option to submit a lead, or if they are using a mobile device, click to call.

Once you have mastered the process of creating your inventory videos, the next step is to make sure these inventory videos get exposure.

In addition to posting inventory videos on your VDPs, distribute them on third-party sites such as Autotrader and Cars.com. Use them in your lead follow-up process and in email marketing campaigns. And yes, you can even post them on your Facebook page.

The next step in mastering inventory videos is to make sure you host your videos on a platform that can collect and use data. Technology exists right now that allows your dealership sales team to get real-time alerts every time someone watches one of your videos. Many times that ‘someone’ can be matched to a profile in your CRM.

Imagine getting an alert that a customer you haven’t spoken with in two years is on Autotrader watching one of your inventory videos. Imagine getting an alert that one of your regular service customers just watched an inventory video on Facebook. You have instant leads and you have their contact information!

There’s no more relevant time to call these prospects than right now, while they are engaged with your brand.

Once you have mastered the art of creating inventory videos, getting them seen and incorporating user data into your lead follow up and marketing processes, you will see an increase in your website and phone leads. Only then should you start thinking about additional types videos that you can create.

In addition to inventory videos, I typically recommend value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos and service department videos. These should all be displayed prominently on your website but they can also be posted on your social media platforms and used in email marketing and lead follow up campaigns.

But first, master the basics. Inventory videos are the best way to turn website visitors into leads, and these should be your primary focus.