Interpreting meaning through communication can be hard.
For example, the simple statement “Fine.”
What does that word really mean? Ultimately, it depends on the context and, more importantly, how it’s said and the body language which happens in that exact moment.
When your significant other says “fine,” you darn well better know what it means, or you can be in a whole world of trouble! Or, if you tell a teenager they must clean their room before they can go out with friends, play video games or whatever they want, there are many ways “fine” can be expressed. If they say it loudly while slamming the door in your face, that has a much different meaning than if they say it in a low submissive but agreeable way.
Humans are masters of perception. We all communicate, and that communication comes across in different ways – be it vocal, physical, or via some activity.
But what does all this mean as far as your dealership and communicating with your customers?
As marketers, with all the data available to us today, we can better interpret customer interactions and more effectively communicate with them than ever before.
An argument could be made that a customer’s digital activity can tell us more about their intent than a face-to-face conversation. Ultimately, the digital footprints a customer leaves throughout their car buying journey are, in fact, a conversation. You may not be able to see the customer, but they express their intent through their online activities.
That customer looking at your website and bouncing through your entire used car inventory, who also jumped around on third-party listing sites, is much higher in the sales funnel. They are having a conversation with you. Something along the lines of, “I’m in the market for a car but I don’t know what I want.”
A customer visiting your website, viewing every Honda Civic in stock, is not only telling you they want a Honda Civic but, if you want to get granular, also which trim level, price range and mileage restrictions they value.
Whatever they spend the most time viewing is probably the best fit for what they are searching for. An unlimited amount of data is out there to help you identify, define and motivate customers. You must just take the time to look at it.
Now that you know the customer’s intent, where they are in the funnel and what they are interested in, what’s the best way to communicate with them?
While you have the secret-agent advantage of all this relevant data showing the customer’s intent, the customer still wants good old face-to-face interaction when it comes down to the sales process. Simply sending a templated email accomplishes nothing. It’s not personal, is not directed to them, fails to really interact on an emotional level, and usually has little relevance.
Of course, you “could” take the creepy road and tell them everything you know about them — but that would likely be counterproductive.
The best way to engage a customer is through a personalized video response. They can see you, hear you and read your body language. If you’re sincere, friendly and engaging, and use the data you have about the customer’s digital journey to craft a personal response, the customer will be able to relate; rapport will be established infinitely better than any “Buy from us because we love you” e-mail template.
Don’t be afraid to send video email responses to your customers. Most of your competitors simply send those canned templates from their CRM with ZERO impact – if they even make it through the customer’s spam filter.
Make an impression and win business using technology that allows you to interact with customers the same way business has been won for decades… in person. With video you can now interact in person, without the customer even being in your showroom.
The statistics show that customers respond to video. They can read your personality and intentions more clearly via video than a written communication, because emotions are more clearly illustrated. And, more importantly, as a result they will connect with you better and choose your dealership to buy or service their car. Then everything will be just “fine!”
by Tim James
Amazon and Google are engaged in a war. Both produce proprietary hardware that consumers can purchase and use to access content through various means — and the competition is getting vicious.
I recognize that, in terms of video marketing hosting platforms, YouTube is the 800-pound gorilla — it certainly has large market share in terms of search and users. But recently, YouTube chose to engage in a battle with Amazon that threatens the usefulness of their platform. Why? Well, as consumers have grown used to accessing YouTube in different manners – via mobile phone, browser, connected device or streaming hardware – they now simply expect the same access, regardless of where they choose to access that video content.
Why should dealers care?
As in all marketing, dealerships should expect to benefit from the fruits of their labors. While technology has made the path of entry to different solutions easier, as a dealer, it still takes time and effort to create your content and messages.
When it comes to video marketing specifically, regardless of whether you are shooting video on smartphones, or have an elaborate professional setup, most of you probably still make the effort because you realize the value and exposure video content brings.
But, what if you do all the work and miss out on customers because companies don’t like each other?
Ah… the million-dollar question. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “You get what you pay for,” right? Yes, YouTube is highly popular with dealers in the video marketing arena, for good reason. They are the 2nd largest search engine in existence and, more importantly, they are free.
Um, but hold on a sec… are they really, free????
What happens when a customer searching for vehicles gets blocked from watching that video you made of your inventory? What about when they get an “Access Denied” message when trying to watch that personal video response you made for them? Any of these scenarios could cost you a sale, which costs you money. Not so free then, right?Well, that ease of access is no longer the case, and it could get worse. What am I talking about?
First, in October 2015, Amazon pulled Google Chromecast and Apple TV from its inventory and no longer offered it for Amazon customers to purchase, presumably to encourage use of its own Fire Stick product as a streaming solution.
Then, Amazon expanded its voice-activated hardware, Echo, to include the Echo Show, which includes a screen and video capabilities. At first, YouTube was available on this hardware. But soon after its debut, YouTube pulled access from the Echo Show because of how Amazon implemented it, which excluded some features.
Moving on forward, just last month, YouTube again appeared on the Echo Show, prompting many to believe that the companies had made up. However, apparently that was not the case. According to TechCrunch, Amazon simply developed a workaround to allow Echo Show users to access a web version of YouTube without Google’s knowledge.
Next, on the 5th of December, Google once again blocked Echo Show users from accessing YouTube content. And it doesn’t seem like this battle is anywhere near the end.
On top of that, consider the data deficiencies, CRM integration or other workarounds staff go through to integrate inventory, or personalized video messages to your customers. The mere fact that videos hosted on the YouTube video platform could NEVER BE SEEN, even by those who TRY TO VIEW THEM on what’s arguably the most patronized company on the planet (Amazon), should concern dealers.
Neither Amazon (who is making inroads into selling cars on their website) nor Google particularly care about car dealers. There is much more revenue to be had in the marketing ad revenue world, as well as the cable-cutting trend that led them into the hardware business — and Amazon is working on coming after a share of the pie that Google has carved out.
As the war between the two companies’ heats up, avoid becoming collateral damage and consider the hidden costs associated with hosting your video on these platforms. “Free” isn’t always free. Make sure you have a video marketing platform that protects YOUR interests. Ensure that those valuable, time-sensitive messages are delivered and can be viewed by your customers, and remove yourself from the battlefield.
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.
Head of National Accounts for Flick Fusion Ted Dupuy shares the path for dealers wondering where to begin in video marketing.
In this series of video blogs, Flick Fusion COO Tim James shares Google’s 5 auto shopping moments that every dealership should know and how to take advantage of those moments to lead customers to your dealership.