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Live Video, The New Normal to Sell More Cars and Service

By Tim James

Every penny spent on advertising and marketing is to get more people into the dealership. Dealers also make a significant investment in the salespeople themselves, training them to help develop the person-to-person skills needed to sell to all the prospects marketing dollars drive into the dealership. Those person-to-person skills are where most automotive salespeople excel, it is what they are best at. Phone calls, emails, text messages, or online chats may not be their biggest strengths. However, put them face to face with someone and they excel. But how are salespeople supposed to ‘get them in’ when countrywide shutdowns and capacity limits are encouraging shoppers to stay home as much as possible? The answer is video conferencing, also known as video calling or video chat.

It is a different world now – today doctors conduct many patient appointments via a live video conference. Many doctors are scheduling video appointments, our children are using video conferencing to go to school right now, and most of you reading this are utilizing video conferencing at your workplace to replace onsite meetings.

Live communication in this way is becoming the new normal– all kinds of shopping is accelerated to the next level via a live stream. Well, guess what, vehicles are no different. During the pandemic, and even before, dealers have been utilizing tools such as Zoom to engage with customers via live video and it is not hurting sales, in fact far from it, it is helping to sell more cars than ever before by making it easier to shop the way today’s customers want to. And it is a safe secure, method, for practically zero budget!

There is one thing that I know for sure and that is video sells. An unfortunate misconception is that vehicle details shared outside the dealership walls can demotivate shoppers from visiting a dealership. You cannot sell them a car if you don’t “get them in”, right? This misconception may prevent some dealers from realizing the full potential of video in nearly every department from sales to service to F&I. Selling a consumer is, was, and will always be about getting the consumer emotionally attached to The Dealership, The Sales Person, and The Car. The pandemic has pushed more shoppers than ever before into shopping online. COVID-19 certainly has motivated more dealers to incorporate video into their sales and service processes. Now, a way to trump your competition is to go one step further and embrace live video conferencing to inspire the emotional connection.

In fact, the most immediate benefit of live video calls is that salespeople now have an opportunity to use those natural person-to-person sales skills they have spent their entire careers perfecting. Even the most technophobic salesperson can engage with the most cutting-edge technology utilizing live video calls. If they can answer a phone, they can answer and make a live video call. It really is that simple, it’s safe, and consumers love it!

It is easy to incorporate live video calls directly from your website. Think about how many website visitors you have every day and imagine being able to instantly engage with them on their terms. It is like having a live service or sales window on your website Today’s customers have grown used to being serviced on their terms, not yours. Also, your sales and business development staff can ‘cut to the chase’ and get into direct contact with customers, eliminating hours of back and forth via calls, texts, and emails.

Live video for a vehicle demo enables a salesperson to guide a consumer through the vehicle features and benefits in real-time, just as if the customer were standing right on the lot. With some platforms, the salesperson can text the customer a Personalized URL and all the customer has to do is click on the link to instantly be engaged in a live one-way or two-way video conference.

Live video calls can also compliment the post-sale delivery process as part of a cautious and contactless sale. The salesperson can simply go over the delivery walkthrough as they always have, but now they can do it through a live video call.

The sales department isn’t the only branch of a dealership that can boost profits with live video. A typical service department experience involves a customer dropping off a vehicle and waiting at the dealership or leaving and awaiting a call for a diagnosis.

Using live video to discuss a vehicle diagnosis is a powerful way for service advisors to explain and demonstrate repairs while keeping the customer engaged during the decision-making process. Having a live video call with a customer after sending service recommendations increases acceptance rates and will quickly become your service advisor’s favorite tool. Live video can eliminate hours of annoying phone tag back and forth by the service department. The customer can also see the recommended service in real-time which reinforces the recommendation and can easily elicit a response of “yes,” rather than “let me think about it,” so that they can go and ask a friend, family member, or price shop the repair with an independent facility.

The F&I department can benefit too. The F&I Manager can advise the customer that they are recording the video call, record the full F&I presentation with all disclosures, and do the entire deal remotely. They can even send the entire recorded presentation to the customer.

Live video calls keep a customer fully engaged with you. Facetime did not gain it is huge popularity on Apple devices because consumers did not like it, but rather the contrary. By using live video at your dealership, you quickly build rapport and earn the customer’s trust. And that is how you increase revenue.

Seeing is Believing!

By Tim James

Some dealers miss opportunities to gain acceptance of service recommendations or upsells simply because consumers do not know why they are needed or important. Many advisors share the “canned” description. However, if the customer is not right in front of you it can be hard for them to understand what you are going on about and so they decline the recommendations.

Well, there is an easy solution to better communicate with your customers so they can see why the recommendations are necessary. That solution is video.

Since COVID-19 arrived on the scene video communications have dramatically increased as a way to engage with customers. Think about how norms have changed. A majority of employees are still working at home using video platforms to communicate with colleagues, such as Zoom. And, in those states where the only way to sell a car is remotely, video is a great tool to help build that relationship and sell the car. Video has become a necessary item in any dealership’s arsenal for both sales and service.

When it comes to service recommendations, using either recorded or live video, you can easily show the customer the issue and clearly describe it to them. The customer can then see what the problem is and better understand why it needs to be repaired. Also, they will feel more confident about accepting those repairs and approve the recommendations. Recommended service acceptance rates can increase by as much as three times from an average of 20% to 40% and sometimes even as high as 60%. Recorded or live video recommendations can also help prevent your customers from shopping the competition and ending up at an independent shop.

Use video technology to communicate with customers – whether that be now during the pandemic or afterward once it passes. You will see an uptick in service recommendations as well as increased customer loyalty and improved CSI scores.

Nobody knows how long we, as a nation, will be home-bound. Some people say it will be months, some are saying years.

No matter how long it is, the results of video are timeless and well-proven. Communicating with your customers via video can help you weather this storm and help boost profitability.

How to Shoot Inventory Videos That Sell

by Brian Cox

As published in the June issue of AutoSuccess

Car shoppers are relying on videos more than ever to help them with purchasing decisions. For car dealers, the first step in creating an effective video marketing strategy is to start with inventory videos. Stitched photo videos are a great option and deliver a better shopping experience for your customers than static photos.

However, if you really want to up your game, implement a process for full motion inventory videos. Live action videos are proven to engage more shoppers and convert more leads.

The good news is you don’t need a professional videographer or expensive equipment. You can start with a smartphone. Expect that the first few videos you shoot will be horrible. That’s okay. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s a quick primer on how to shoot professional looking inventory videos that sell.

Video Quality

First, get to know your equipment and learn how to use it. Small adjustments can make a big difference when it comes to video quality. Shoot with a 16:9 (horizontal) aspect ratio and experiment with different settings. The settings we recommend are:

Frames per second: 30

Shutter speed (exposure): 1/60, 1/125, or 1/250. The lower the light conditions, the lower the shutter speed. However, lower than 1/60 and your shots may be blurry.

ISO setting: It depends on lighting. If it’s a cloudy day or you’re shooting in the shade, use a higher ISO setting. However, the higher the ISO, the more grainy your video will be. Keep the setting as low as possible and never go above 800.

Aperture: This setting affects depth of field. If you want to bring the car into focus and blur the background, use a larger aperture setting. If you want both the car and the background to be in equal focus, use a smaller aperture setting.

Audio Quality

When it comes to audio in inventory videos, there are three options:

  • Talk while shooting the video
  • Add voiceover in post production
  • Use automated voiceover

If you choose to talk while shooting the video, invest in a good quality wireless microphone with noise reduction. Often it’s easier and more professional to lay down a voiceover track in post-production. If you’re not comfortable with either of these options, try an automated voice over option. With the right application, all you have to do is shoot the video and a data-driven audio layer is automatically added to your videos.

Video/Audio Content

When deciding what to say in your videos, the most important thing to remember is this: information is important, but emotion sells! Your job is to make the car shopper want this car over any other car they’re considering.

The best way to accomplish this is to tell the viewer WHY a feature is important. For example, if a vehicle has a built-in GPS system, add a comment about how a GPS “keeps you from getting lost and keeps you on time for appointments!”

In general, it’s best to keep inventory videos between 1.5 and 2.5 minutes in length. However, there are some dealerships that produce videos from three to four minutes in length that have high completion rates. It depends on the quality and presentation of the video.

Don’t forget to include your dealership’s unique selling proposition (USP). Why should the viewer buy this car from your dealership instead of from the dealership across town?

Informational and Emotional Enhancement

An effective inventory video strategy is to have the audio focused on the vehicle’s features and benefits, as well as your dealership’s unique selling proposition. Then, use banner overlays and other visual elements to relay additional information important to the car shopper, such as:

  • MSRP data
  • Rebates and incentives
  • Mileage
  • CPO content
  • CARFAX data
  • Dealership specials

All the information listed on the VDP page should be included in the video. Be sure to integrate conversion widgets into your videos, so when viewers click on the video they’re brought to a landing page.

Don’t forget to include a call to action at the end of the video! You must tell the customer what you want them to do, and give them a reason to do it.

Visibility

Once your inventory videos are complete, the next step is distribution. The more touch points your videos are viewed on, the more leads you will get. Make sure your inventory videos are viewable on:

  • Your website’s Vehicle Display Pages (VDPs)
  • YouTube, Facebook and other social media channels
  • Third-party shopping sites such as Cars.com, Autotrader.com or eBay
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Craigslist ads (provide a URL link to a video landing page)

To get your inventory videos ranked by Google, make sure your website provider utilizes a video sitemap for your website. A video sitemap greatly increases video SEO rankings.

The ability to produce quality vehicle inventory videos is the first step in creating an effective online video marketing strategy, guaranteed to draw more customers to your website and convert them into leads. Fortunately, these days, it’s easy and fast to create and distribute powerful full-motion inventory videos designed to capture car shoppers’ attention, educate and inspire emotion.

What Do You Do When Car Buyers Aren’t Coming into Your Showroom?

By Tim James

With all the worry and concern out there regarding the Coronavirus and the impact it will have on public health and business, this is a great time to talk about video communication. It has always been the perfect tool for connecting with consumers without having to be fact-to-face.

To be really effective your video communication platform should integrate New Model Test Drive videos, Inventory Videos, Video Calling, and Real-Time Notifications.

Google estimates that approximately 70% of all automotive shoppers are searching for New Model Review Videos early in the buying cycle. Stand out from the competition by offering shoppers video content, rather than the standard pictures found on common dealership websites. Using the right platform, it is easy to add New Model Review Videos to your website and deliver information in an emotional video presentation for those customers that prefer not to visit a showroom, and still effectively move them through the buying funnel.

Automated Inventory Videos are also proven to transfer more information and inspire more emotion from your VDP Pages than pictures or words alone. They are a great addition to internet and phone lead follow up.

Another critical tool that can win over car shoppers is New Model Test Drive Videos and Full Motion Walkaround Videos. These types of videos are great for car shoppers early in the shopping journey. Inventory videos are then the next logical touchpoint.

During a time when fewer people will chose to visit the showroom, wouldn’t it be nice to know if your leads are still shopping or not? They may not be coming into the dealership, or returning your calls, but what are these folks stuck at home actually doing?

Our platform offers real-time notifications and sends an alert every time one of your prospects is live and watches one of your inventory videos –  whether on your website, AutoTrader,Cars.com, or other third-party marketplaces. You then know exactly when you should attempt to contact them. Even if you cannot reach them at that moment, you can see exactly how active that prospect still is.

Speaking of lead management, one of the easiest ways to increase shopper interaction and convert more website traffic into on-the-lot shoppers is to enable your shoppers to talk to one of your professionals “live” from the comfort and safety of their own home. Live Video Communication is quickly becoming the preferred means of communication.

You can increase the humanization and personalization of your communication touchpoints dramatically in both sales and service by utilizing live video and texting. Live communications make it easy right from that start, and you can scale your video calling strategy throughout your entire dealership, regardless of size. Encourage your customers to video call you and get that face-to-face interaction without actually being face-to-face – something that would certainly appeal to car shoppers nervous about coming into the dealership.

If customers are spending more time at home, they probably have more time to shop online. Provide stimulating and emotional product information to keep your dealership top-of-mind not just now – but in the future once life returns to normal.

In this period of social distancing, video can help your dealership continue to respond to and communicate with car shoppers while moving them down the sales funnel while your competition is waiting.

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.