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Islands in the Stream, that is What We Are

Live video is taking over. If you have been on social media anytime lately, you probably noticed the barrage of streaming Facebook Live videos. In addition, videoconferencing has replaced boring teleconferences on just about every major platform. Why? Because, while we supposedly live in a super connected world, people are, in fact, less connected than ever. We communicate via text in short sound bites that are constantly misinterpreted. Emails are frequently misunderstood and social communications via platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are often incorrectly perceived.  This is because the majority of human communication occurs through visual cues such as body language, tone of voice and facial expressions… and you cannot see any of these through text or email.

Why the rise in live streaming with telecommunication companies and social media platforms? Because it’s engaging. Video, in itself, is engaging. But add in another dimension where it is not pre-recorded, but live, and conversations occur in real-time. It takes video to the next level as a communications tool.

If you think this is not already happening, let me tell you, it is. And it could be creating problems for your dealership if it’s happening on a salesperson’s personal Facebook profile or on a Facebook page they created to represent the dealership. First, if it’s happening on the salesperson’s personal profile or a Facebook page they created, there is truly no dealership connection, record of the conversation or ability for oversight. Second, when salespeople are representing the dealership, those conversations with customers belong to the dealership, not the salesperson. What happens if the salesperson says the wrong thing – even innocently?

Now don’t misunderstand my point here as live streaming video is an excellent way to engage customers. The customer can talk to a salesperson as if they were on your lot. The salesperson can walk out to the vehicle the customer is interested in, do a walkaround and interact with the customer live while answering their questions and showing them features they are interested in. It’s like taking a phone call to another level. Live streaming will certainly grow in used, just as video-conferencing has. If you are not doing so already, you would be wise to investigate solutions that allow these types of engagement between consumers and your dealerships in a way that’s measurable, and controllable, while enabling customers to communicate in the way they prefer and find the most productive.

Here are 62 statistics about live-streaming that are important to know. This blog would be a book if I went into all of them, but the key point is that live-streaming is quickly becoming the medium of choice for consumers for brand interaction.

In our era of smartphones with built in Facetime and Google Hangouts, consumers are utilizing real-time live streaming to connect with their loved ones and friends because it’s more intimate and personal. And that is spreading to the retail world. Consumers can gain a more intimate and personal connection with your dealership in the same communication manner. Whether it’s from a one-way video call (the customer can only see the salesperson) or a two-way video call (both can see each other), they are equally effective.

People want to deal with people. This is easy to do via live-streaming, right from the comfort of their home. Salespeople have a much better opportunity to build rapport and trust and help the customer while telling the car’s story. They can show customers what they want to see – all in real-time.

Oh, and just a quick note in closing, as I don’t want to make you work too hard — for those of you too young to remember the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers song “Islands in the Stream,” the title is a word play on the title of that song – stream – streaming video – get it?

With shoppers flooding the streams of video, your dealership needs to be the island they can rely on for great content, a personal connection and to get exactly what they want in the format they choose to engage.

3 Tips to Up Your Video Marketing Game

Assuming your dealership has a video marketing strategy in place and that you’re getting good results, you may be ready to take your video marketing to another level.

To quickly review, the fundamental basic blocks of a video marketing strategy include:

  • Content. Start with what you sell…your inventory.  Next sell them on your dealership with value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos, and service “how to” videos.   Also, sell them on your staff with personnel introduction/profile videos.  All of these content videos build trust with the shopper.
  • Exposure. In addition to your website, your videos should be on multiple touchpoints like Cars.com, Autotrader.com, Facebook, and any other distribution points video is accepted to display. Also using video in email marketing and in the lead follow-up process garners great results when compared to traditional e-mail and phone calls.
  • Actionable Data Collection. Where you host your video plays a very important role in the success of a video marketing strategy. Using public hosting platforms like YouTube and Vimeo do not help your SEO nor guarantee to keep your shopper on your site. Your dealership’s video should be hosted on a platform that allows your website to claim the SEO benefits of your video, and also has the ability to collect actionable data from your video viewers so you know who’s watching which video from where and with what.
  • Data Utilization. Use the actionable data to create relevancy, to create or adjust your marketing endeavors so you are able to serve up the right video to the right customer at the right time.

Now that we have reviewed the core elements to a successful video marketing strategy, let’s take a look at kicking it up a notch.

Here are some additional elements to add to your strategy designed to even further increase your engagement, conversions and leads.

Empower Your Customers with Information
Today’s consumers want to be in control of the purchase process. Videos can have a significant impact in that process, with up to 90 percent of people claiming that video plays a role in their purchasing decisions, according to one report.

Although customers want to be in control, they still need information and a trusted resource to guide their decision. Why not become that trusted resource?

When it comes to car shopping, most dealers don’t have a lot of information on their website to help prospective buyers in their research and decision-making process. Why leave that up to the OEMs and third-party sites?

Part of this process involves deciding where to buy. Customers want to buy from a dealership they trust. One of the best ways to gain that trust is to provide the car shopper with information in a transparent way.

If you don’t already have a video showroom on your website, it’s time to add one. Then, create and add the following types of videos:

  • Explain the difference between your brand’s trim levels
  • Explain the difference between your brand and your top two competing brands
  • Explain new features in a newly introduced product/brand
  • Explain the sales process/what to expect at your dealership
  • Explain the F&I process and products

These videos should focus on educating the shopper. Their purpose is to gain customer trust, so the videos should be focused on your customers’ needs and your dealership’s expertise.

Virtual Reality Video
Virtual Reality (VR) is already mainstream. The good news for dealers is that creating VR videos doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or time. You can create VR videos in approximately the same amount of time as you can a regular video.

VR videos are highly engaging and will differentiate your brand, at least until the rest of the Jones’s on the block catch up. If you want a captive audience, start by creating and posting a few model review videos on your website in VR first as these will be more relevant longer then an inventory specific video.  To get even more engagement you can then distribute them through email and your social media channels.

Watching a VR video is a completely different experience than watching a regular video; if you haven’t tried it yet, you should! The experience is completely immersive, memorable and emotional.

You don’t have to start doing VR videos for every piece of inventory. Focus on creating a VR video for your new models and make them both educational and fun, if possible. As the customer is sitting in the front seat, guide them through what they’re seeing, touching and feeling.

Consumers can experience VR videos if they own a smartphone and a pair of VR goggles or headsets. All that’s required is downloading an app that can play virtual reality videos.

Live Streaming Video
Today’s consumer demands instant information and transparency during the car-buying process, and live-streaming video calls are a great way to establish a connection, build trust and provide information in an immediate and transparent manner.

Live streaming is another technology that you may want to consider incorporating into your sales process. Allow your shoppers to connect in real-time with your team.  It’s not just Millennials that want their information now…Boomers do too!

Are you ready to take your video marketing game to the next level? Try these three video strategies designed to engage customers and increase conversions and leads.

In Video Marketing, the Car Should Be the Star

Video marketing is becoming more important as consumers increasingly choose this medium over others. That’s exactly why almost every platform has shifted to a video-centric algorithm.

I’ve spoken many times about the types of video a dealership should produce outside of inventory videos to create an emotional connection to your brand, dealership and employees. However, there is one thing I have touched on in the past that needs more attention. It is, in fact, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give:

The car should always be the star!

What do I mean by that? Regardless of the type of video you produce, the sole focus of each is fundamentally to excite and persuade a potential customer to choose your dealership and come in to buy a vehicle. But what about personalized walkaround videos, personal e-mail responses, why buy videos, or customer testimonials?

If you’re creating video content for your dealership and only take one piece of advice from me, let it be this: Make sure that the brand you represent, and/or the vehicle you are trying to sell, is visible in every video.

It’s great to send a personalized video email response to a customer. It’s certainly engaging and puts a face behind the name. But, while the personal video e-mail response will do that, the customer ultimately is considering purchasing something you sell.

Imagine how much more powerful a personalized video response would be if, instead of filming in front a background consisting of a white wall or other desks, it was filmed in front of the exact vehicle the customer inquired about. I’m not talking about a walkaround. Simply a little product placement.  There’s a reason major brands pay big money for product placement in movies, television shows and video games. That’s because it pays off! That Pepsi can that the actor is drinking out of may never be mentioned or referred to — but I can guarantee you one thing… it was noticed.

Make sure that, when making a personal video response, why buy video, or while filming a customer testimonial, the background contains either a vehicle that you sell, the specific one the customer is interested in, or the vehicle they already purchased.

Video content is evergreen in that it doesn’t expire. It can float around the digital universe for an eternity if you want it to. Ensure that as many videos as possible promote not only your store and employees, but also the vehicles that you sell. You never know when someone will come across it and be impacted by it.

Many times, those accidental or unintended video views lead to relationships that span a lifetime. Make sure every piece of video content displays your vehicles – even if that’s not the video’s intent – and you’ll take your engagement and connection to the next level.

Don’t Put Your Newspaper Ad on TV

“Over the next three years, the biggest trend in our products will be the growth of video.”

-Mark Zuckerberg

If you’ve heard the news, many are proclaiming that Facebook is now even more pay-to-play than it already was. What do I mean? At one point, Facebook was raw and not filtered – you could view all content from everyone, just as with other sites, such as Twitter.

Then brand pages came along, interjecting branded messages if you liked their Facebook page. As more businesses hopped aboard, the user experience became more cluttered and viewers were presented with less of the content they really wanted to see.

With the introduction of boosted posts and Facebook ads, this paid-ad model has allowed Facebook to monetize the platform while giving advertisers a way to increase exposure. However, on January 11, Facebook announced that it will decrease brand exposure – even for paid advertisers – in order to “bring people closer together.” And marketers are scared.

Okay, so does this mean you as an advertiser should drop everything and abandon the platform as your content will now get less attention?

No, and here’s why: There’s a tip that came straight from the man himself, Mark Zuckerberg. Somewhat recently, Facebook began pushing publishers and businesses to post more video content – even going so far as to recruit celebrities and influencers to post their content natively to the site – and rewarding those that did with extended reach in newsfeeds. In fact, the preference for video continues to this day. And, as stated in the quote at the top of this blog, Mark Zuckerberg said it himself in Facebooks Q3 Earnings Call.

I would highly recommend that if your dealership is not yet regularly making and producing video content, you should make real plans to do so. Of course, if you are already spending money on Facebook to promote your content, you could continue to pay to promote that non-video content, but you’ll soon be paying more money to reach the same amount of people. Think of it this way, promoting non-video content on Facebook is like putting your newspaper ad on the TV as a 30-second static image!

The equalizer, it would seemor at least a competitive advantage is to utilize Facebook’s algorithm preference for video in your marketing and social content. It could be that video content – especially video that is engaging and prompts interaction is a lifesaver when it comes to connecting with your Facebook audience. If your dealership chooses to combine that video content with some sponsored posts, you could further increase engagement.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Facebook wants to be a platform of video content. They’ll reward you for doing it with increased exposure and, according to Mark Zuckerberg, it is the company’s focus for the next three years.

if you want to succeed in getting eyeballs on your message and engagement with your audience, video is no longer optional. So, go out and start making videos. That’s what your audience wants – and that’s what Facebook wants. Or become invisible. The choice is yours.

4 Reasons Why Your Customers Love Video

For professional marketers across all industries, the top priority for 2018 is to convert leads into customers, according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2017 report. Sound familiar? Most auto dealers I know have the same goal.

In order to accomplish that goal, 48 percent of these professional marketers will be adding video to their marketing strategy this year. In fact, video is their number one strategy, far above social media, email and other traditional forms of marketing.

The reason for this is simple: people love watching videos! Even those die-hard readers out there have to admit there is a time and place for video. There’s a reason why video is the number one type of content consumed globally.

Actually, there are several reasons why video should be your auto dealership’s top marketing priority in 2018:

1) People Trust Video

Trust is an important factor in the decision-making process. How can you get potential customers to trust you? Being likeable helps, but even more important is to have a brand that’s known for integrity and product expertise.

Videos are the ideal method for building a trustworthy brand image. You can post words on your website and broadcast them on radio, but the combination of video and audio delivers a far more powerful impact.

That’s because video conveys messages with both verbal and non-verbal cues. Remember that communication is:

  • 7 percent the words that you say
  • 55 percent body language
  • 38 percent the tone of voice

For consumers, finding a trustworthy brand is an important step along the car-buying journey. Another study found that a user’s positive experience with a video increased brand association by 139 percent.

2) Video Creates an Emotional Response

Emotion sells because it happens on a very instinctive level. People may not be aware of why they’re buying–they just know they feel good about it.

To differentiate your dealership and generate a powerful emotional response in viewers, create inventory videos with voiceovers that focus not just on the features, but on how owning the vehicle will make the buyer feel.

According to a recent Gallup study, “businesses that optimize this (emotional) connection outperform competitors by 26 percent in gross margin and 85 percent in sales growth.”

3) Video is Memorable

When was the last time you heard someone talk about a great newspaper or digital ad they just saw? When was the last time you heard someone mention a great video they just watched?

The reason why videos are memorable is based on science. People remember only 10 percent of what they see, but 50 percent of what they see and hear. A great video can touch people’s emotions like no other form of media can.

The right combination of music, narration, visuals and motion invites viewers to experience your product and your brand, instead of just hearing about it.

According to the Online Publishers Association, 80 percent of Internet users recall watching a video on a website they visited in the past 30 days. Of that 80 percent, 46 percent took some action after viewing the video, including looking for more information, visiting the website, visiting the company and purchasing a product.

It’s pretty simple: use video to make your brand memorable, and consumers will remember your brand.

4) Video Saves Time

A two-minute video can deliver a lot of information. From the consumer’s point of view, watching a video takes less effort and time than reading text and trying to decipher which product or service is best for them.

Try viewing your Vehicle Display Pages (VDPs) from a car-buyer’s perspective. Do you think most people read all the specs listed there? A consumer may scan the text but unless they are looking for something specific, they won’t remember much.

Static photos don’t convey a lot of information either; only what the vehicle looks like. Video on the other hand, can present rich visuals along with a voiceover that helps to educate and excite the consumer.

In a sense, videos remove the burden of research, reading and decision-making on the part of the consumer. If all of that information can be delivered in a video, people will choose to watch the video, every time.

Is video on your 2018 marketing priority list? Consumers love video, so if you’re serious about giving your customers what they want, give them video.

Social Listening and Quick Action = Video Marketing Gold!

All too often marketers find themselves with writer’s block, if you will, when it comes to new ideas. Short of spending a ton of money for an ad agency, businesses can still find opportunities to insert themselves into trending stories for little money… IF they act quickly. 

Case in point: On Nov. 2, 2017, a young aspiring videographer decided to use the power of video to help his girlfriend sell her car. What was so special about it? Nothing! It was a 1996 Honda Accord. But he created this incredibly clever, well filmed video advertising the vehicle. In fact, it was so clever that, to date, it’s received over 6.2 MILLION views. Yes, a video merchandizing a car went viral. Surprise! Videos sell cars.

You can watch the video here:

CarMax heard about this trending video and quickly jumped into action. They created a response video integrating the features and items for the 1996 Honda Accord and offered $20,000 for the vehicle (We all know that a 1996 Honda Accord with over 100,000 miles is not worth $20,000). This video also went viral because outside observers joined the ongoing story to see what would happen.

Here is the response video by CarMax:

At the end of the day, the videographer accepted CarMax’s offer and his girlfriend sold the car to them – minus the cat.

Why did this work so well for all parties involved; and why did anyone care?

When making the video of the1996 Honda Accord, the aspiring videographer took the time to tell the vehicle’s story. He created a high-quality video walkaround that was over-the-top in personality. The seriousness of his tone in the video essentially became its own character.

Of course, people loved it. But why? For someone to even take the time to make a video like this is itself entertaining. But the character and personality injected into the vehicle throughout the video captured a lot of people’s attention – and for something that’s normally not that attention-getting.

Video has the power to engage and hold an audience when it’s done rightand this videographer did it perfectly.

CarMax saw an opportunity to capitalize on a trending video in a humorous way. But, more importantly, in a way that supports their brand message – namely, that they buy cars. The video had a tongue-in-cheek style that was appreciated by the Internet citizens paying attention. While their video didn’t go quite as viral (only around 350,000 views), that is certainly more views than they were used to getting on any vehicle inventory video.

In the end, the lesson to be learned is that every car has a story, something that makes it unique, special, and desired by “someone”. But that story can only be told by making videos in a way that engagers viewers. Your video doesn’t have to reach 6.2 million people. It only needs to engage one. And when it does, you’ve done your job right.

Make videos infused with personality, which are also high quality, regardless of if you’re selling a Ferrari supercar, or a 1996 Honda Accord.

The second lesson to be learned is that there are marketing and branding opportunities all over the place. You can capitalize on these without much expense, and little effort. While you certainly shouldn’t try and jump on every trending piece of social media that’s gone viral, you should identify those that fit well with your dealership and brand message. The Internet can be very critical if it senses you’re out of character, or solely trying to get attention. Your Internet audience can, however, appreciate a clever response that’s in-character.

Take this as an example of how two videos of a 1996 Honda Accord engaged millions. Consider any opportunities you have at your dealership to improve the quality and engagement of your vehicles through video marketing. You may start seeing more engaged buyers which will translate into faster inventory turn and higher front-end revenues. And that’s what video merchandizing is all about.