technology

Do Stitched Photo Videos Provide Value, or are they Outdated Technology?

Stitched photo videos have been around awhile. I’ve had many people ask me lately if they are still relevant, do consumers really watch them, and why dealers should have them when they already have a large number of photos and vehicle description on the VDP. My response is to remove personal opinions out of the equation and let the “data” do the talking.

The reality is that stitched photo videos can be the most important type of video content your dealership has. Consumers are video-oriented and, while it is good for a dealership to have a large number of photos of a vehicle on their VDP, consumers simply don’t want to scroll through all those photos or read all the text in the description.

If you aren’t going to invest in a full motion inventory video, then you must provide consumers with a stitched photo inventory video at a minimum. Consider this, the completion rate for a stitched photo inventory video is 70-75%! Think about that. If consumers did NOT like them, would they watch a stitched photo video for an average 1-1/2 to 2 minutes right through to the end?

The fact is, Google identified Inventory Videos as one of the most desired types of video content that today’s shopper is looking for. Dealerships who add inventory videos (stitched photo or full motion) traditionally see a 10-15% increase in total leads (all sources), appointments, shows, and sales. And when incorporated into an integrated video marketing strategy, these numbers can easily double.

Our lives revolve around video already. We watch video reviews, TV, news, Netflix… whatever. We don’t unroll the daily newspaper anymore. Everything is on demand. And that’s what consumers want.

Let me reiterate, just to be clear, I’m not saying that stitched photo videos are the BEST form of video marketing. But, for those dealers who have yet to make the commitment to full motion inventory videos, or who don’t want to pay a service to create them, my suggestion is that stitched photo videos are, at minimum, the most essential inventory marketing piece these dealers can have.

Why?

Because the data proves it. They increase VDP Engagement from your shoppers, raise your Time on Site (which Google loves), and they generate more leads than SRP’s and VDP’s that only have still photos. Is that enough reason? I would certainly think so, especially if your dealership is already taking those multiple photos of the vehicle. If that’s the case, stitched photo videos are the most straightforward solution and are very effective.

One last point that should be mentioned here: one of the most important reasons you need an inventory video (stitched photo or full motion) is to get your Value Proposition, Testimonial, and FAQ videos in front of the shoppers at that phase of the buying cycle. There is no other way to get this rich video content in front of the shopper while on the SRP/VDP, other than using the Inventory Video as leverage. This is the most critical time for that video content to be viewed!

To Script or Not to Script? That Is the Question

When making videos for your dealership, it can be easy to get so caught up in the “What should I say?” that the video never gets made.

Some video marketing experts advise that scripts are the way to go as the person on camera then knows what to say. But that may not be best for everyone.

The person that is making the video, doing the talking and/or the subject of the video, ultimately is representing the dealership. Of course, everyone wants their videos to be professional. But you should also want them to be genuine (sincere) and engaging to the customer. Have you ever seen a video where the person speaks in a monotone or without emotion because they are reading from a script? It’s not very engaging, is it?

To that point, in this blog, I’d like to cover a couple of best practices that can help when executing different types of videos for your dealership that will more effectively engage your customers.

1. Walkaround videos – Whether for general merchandising or personalized emails, it is essential to be knowledgeable about the vehicle. Managers expect that their salespeople know their product. If your salesperson has to read a window sticker to do a walkaround in person, that certainly is not acceptable.

Well, the same holds true for video walkarounds. Customers get excited about vehicles when the salesperson is excited. If a salesperson can knowledgeably explain to a customer while emotionally engaged why a vehicle is excellent and/or why it’s right for the customer, the customer is much more likely to trust and engage with the salesperson. This is especially important when a customer is still in the “Is this vehicle right for me?” stage. If a salesperson can’t correctly show a car without a script, they should not be showing cars period — much less doing walkaround videos.

2. Personal email videos – The whole purpose of a personal email video is to convince a customer who inquired about the vehicle that your dealership cares about them on an individual level and that they should do business with you. Scripted videos can take the personality out of the equation, come off as dry and uninteresting. Ultimately, they could even be counterproductive to the primary goal – getting the customer to like the salesperson or BDC agent.

While it is OK to train employees on what they should say in general, to engage the customer, employees must be able to take those basic talking points and integrate them into the message using their personality. Just as customers can tell whether an email response is a template or an actual communication from a person, customers can also determine if a video response is genuine or just someone reading from a script.

It is definitely okay to write your thoughts down on paper and organize your thoughts to prepare for your personalized video. But when the camera starts rolling, put the script down, make eye contact with the camera, and let your personality shine.

Ensure that your salespeople and BDC agents are knowledgeable enough to make personal videos for customers without having to read a script. They should display who they are and showcase their own individual skills and personality. Customers will be more engaged, the message will come across as genuine and, ultimately, your dealership will see more success.

The Bird Is the Word

One of the reasons video captures your customers’ attention and engages them so effectively is that, when done properly, it tells a story. I came across a great article on AdWeek.com, which shares how the scooter company Bird created a clever video telling a powerful story. It’s not overtly promotional or in your face but instead has some key factors which make it so engaging.

First, it’s story-based. As in any story, it begins with character development, introduces pain points and then provides a solution. When you watch the short video, you see a street line painter endure multiple obstacles while trying to do his job. From traffic congestion, to exhaust, his life is frustrating. Then commuters riding Bird scooters enter the scene. He recognizes they would alleviate the obstacles and decides to take steps to solve the problem.

This illustrates the key factors which should be used when telling a story via video. You don’t have to create an animated masterpiece to convey your dealership’s (or your) story effectively. If you keep the essential elements of storytelling in mind when planning video content for your customers (or potential customers), they will end up more engaged. This translates into a desire to do business with you.

Video content is not all about selling. Sure, you should have videos of your inventory on your VDPs; send out personalized video email responses; communicate with customers via live video and have “Meet the Team” videos so customers can learn more about your dealership’s most valuable asset – your people. But, depending on where the customer is in the sales cycle, some types of videos work better than others.

Video works because customers feel included. When it comes to live video, customers know you are addressing them directly, and they can talk to you in real-time from the comfort of their home. However, even personal video responses can elicit a similar emotional connection. If done correctly, the customer can see that the salesperson is responding to them personally, rather than merely communicating via a generic email template. That personalization, combined with the critical factors of storytelling, not only engages your customer but builds rapport and stimulates emotion.

Here are some quick tips on how to do this:

Regardless of if it is a live video or a personalized pre-recorded video, the structure is the same. Introduce yourself, acknowledge the consumer by name, reaffirm the vehicle they are interested in and then walk them through key factors, identifying pain points by choosing appropriate stories. “Mr. Customer, my name is Bob, and I have been working with Toyota of Mars for 5 years. I’ve helped many customers find and secure vehicles that meet their needs and their budgets. [character development]. I realize that you’re concerned about safety. It’s certainly something that is a concern. Not all drivers are patient, follow the rules of the road and are aware of their fellow drivers.” [pain point addressed] This 2018 Toyota which you inquired about is an excellent choice. It has many safety features, including… [solution addressed].” Then finish the video with a clear call to action expressing what action you would like the viewer to take next and why they should take it.

Adding a touch of storytelling elements to your video content can transform an ordinary video into an engaging and emotional piece that captures and keeps your customer’s attention. More importantly, it separates you from your competition by personalizing that interaction and creating an experience that goes far beyond a simple walk-around or introduction video… and that’s how you get their attention —- and keep it!

Don’t Let Your Dealership Become a Casualty of War

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.