video tips

Video Marketing: Strategy First

When it comes to video marketing, I see a large variety of strategies within the automotive industry. Some dealerships are hyper-focused and create their video content with a defined purpose and strategy, some have a good idea of the “type” of video content that they need to capture but no defined strategy for maximizing the value of that video through touchpoint distribution, and some dealerships simply bring out a cell phone and start aimlessly wandering around their lot, with employees capturing video of whatever they want to. While these actions are certainly a start, it is far more effective to have an overall video marketing strategy. Start by thinking about what video content will have the biggest impact on your shoppers throughout the entire buying cycle. And then figure out how you plan to distribute your content across the various touchpoints to be seen by the right shopper at the right time.

An excellent article in Rolling Stone magazine showcases advice from eight video marketing experts. All of the panelists give solid advice. But the one that stuck out to me the most was by Brian Chin, Co-Founding Partner of p3 Maine, a video production company. His advice was as follows:

I run a video agency, and far too often we see companies waste money on ineffective video content because they’ve just been told they “need video.” Put in place the correct strategy for your needs, targeting the correct audience with the right message. And if video is the way to go, create beautiful and engaging content that inspires people to take action. But strategy first.”

I’ve always believed in a “strategy first” approach to all marketing, not just video. You can save yourself so much time and money by “starting with the end in mind,” and understanding what content you need, as Brian Chin mentions. Also, by understanding the technologies that are available to you to help maximize your efforts. It’s not simply about taking video. Shooting videos is great, and it is something that data shows every dealership needs to be doing. However, videos need to be seen by the right audience at the right time to maximize their true value.

Here are three simple points to consider that can help your dealership when creating a highly effective video marketing STRATEGY:

1. How and where are you using that video? Before making any video, it helps to know exactly how you plan to use it. Ask yourself the following questions: “Is the purpose of this video to inspire an emotional response and increase engagement on a social media campaign? If so, where else would it have that same emotional value? Should it also be displayed with a specific Make or Model (or even a specific vehicle) on my VDPs?” “Is it to build trust with high, mid, or low funnel shoppers? If so, what are the touchpoints where I know my shoppers will be throughout the buying cycle and how do I make sure that all of my shoppers are presented with this video content (without them having to look for it.) “Am I trying to increase recommended service repairs?” Having solid answers to the question “how and where” is a great way to start formulating a strategy.

2. What outcome do you desire for each video?

Once you’ve determined the purpose, now ask yourself what outcome you want from each specific video. Is the video designed to increase sales? Is it to increase conversion from an ad and drive more traffic to your website or landing page? Get leads to engage with your BDC or sales team? Brand your store? There are a lot of outcomes you might expect from a video marketing strategy. But, you have to know what to expect and how to make certain that your video content is presented to your shoppers strategically before you can measure it.

3. How can you use data to improve the effectiveness of each video?

Many video platforms only show rudimentary data such as views or likes, but fail to provide valuable information about the HOW, WHO, or WHEN. And that is what is needed to make your video marketing actionable.

Everybody gets excited about having thousands of video views. Of course, if it a branding video and that was the purpose and desired outcome, that’s great! But sometimes it is just that one view that turns a video into a sale. The point is that it’s not just data, but detailed and actionable data that matters.

If you make a video specifically for Mr. or Mrs. Smith, knowing that they watched it, when they watched it, and how many times it was viewed, and being able to see what OTHER videos they watched is invaluable information for creating a correctly targeted sales strategy. Having this valuable data allows you to get the right video in front of the right shopper at the right time of the buying cycle, while also allowing you to know the exact second that one of your leads or customers is live on a touchpoint and watching one of your videos. This provides you the most strategic opportunity to reach out to them with a follow-up call.

Make sure you use a platform that allows you to capture that data and archive it in case Mr. and Mrs. Smith are not ready to buy NOW. Then you are prepared for them when they are.

These are just a few quick tips designed to show you some of the basics of how to start to incorporate a strategy into your video marketing efforts. Having videos is great but, as Mr. Chin said: Strategy first.

Video: The Content that Rules them All!

by Tim James

According to a recent study published by Wistia, consumers watched more than 23,000 YEARS of video in 2020 alone. This means more video was watched last year than the entire history of modern civilization! And it’s almost certain to continue to break records. Why? Because video transfers more information to a consumer in the least amount of time, while also creating the greatest amount of emotion when compared to any other visual medium.

Perhaps even more interesting is HOW consumers are watching video content. According to an article in Forbes, about 72% of consumers watch video content solely on their smartphones. More so than on a movie screen, their desktop, or anywhere else. New video apps and features are infiltrating the current market offering an increasing number of ways for consumers to view this content. Even Pinterest, which has historically been a single image-only site, has started to adopt video into its platform. This is why your dealership must understand that video isn’t just the future, it is the NOW.

Every industry has either begun the transfer to video or is fully engulfed in it, and the automotive industry is no different. Moving forward, high-quality and innovative video experiences on your dealership websites and in the different stages of the buying cycle will set your dealership apart from the rest when it comes to building relationships with shoppers.

Why do you think that nearly every business is scrambling to include video in their marketing strategy? Because it works, and the data is there to back it up!

Entrepreneur magazine recently featured an article stating that consumers want to, “See, Watch and Buy. In that Order.” How does this apply to your dealership website? When a consumer lands on your SRP or VDP, they are “seeing” your inventory. The next step is to “watch” the vehicle via a video. Whether that is a stitched photo video, a live video walkaround, or an interactive 360 spin, video content engages viewers and saves them from clicking through uninteresting photos and from having to read a large amount of text.

Consumers want to feel empowered to gain as much information about a vehicle as possible, as quickly as possible. Why has the test drive and product demonstration been a part of the basic steps to selling a car for decades? Because it works! And now, the technology exists to accomplish the same thing online.

The point is to make content consumers like, while also making that content in the form consumers want to consume. Then make it even better! Watching a video of a vehicle is great, but if you personalize that content and make it resonate with the customer in front of you, then you can move them further down the funnel.

It also helps to have trackable data you can use for your marketing. Use personalized videos on platforms that provide useful marketing data, and which integrate with your CRM for ease of follow-up. “Easy” doesn’t have to mean that quality suffers.

Make it easy to create videos that consumers desire, that they can view on their mobile phones, with data that integrates into your CRM so you can follow up with them appropriately. This will help turn your dealership into a marketing powerhouse that rules over any competition!

Build Your F&I Revenue Through Video

Dealers are increasingly adopting video in order to engage customers and win sales. Well, how about adopting this strategy in the F&I department as well?

As front-end margins decrease, many dealerships are placing more emphasis on F&I to make revenue. With digital retailing on the rise and customers shopping from home rather than in the showroom, how does a finance department sell F&I products in the absence of the dealer?

Going under the assumption that home delivery means that the entire deal has already been done as the paperwork must be printed in advance, dealerships are probably finding it difficult to present finance products in the most convincing way.

And that is where video comes in.

Most companies that offer various F&I products have product videos available for your use. The first step to increasing your F&I profit is to package these videos along with your dealership’s value proposition (Why Buy) videos, testimonial videos, and other finance FAQ videos on your website where they are easy for the consumer to find. Consumers know these “upsell” product offers are coming. Provide them with the opportunity to educate themselves on the various products higher in the buying cycle. 

The next step is to strategically re-introduce these videos to the consumer as they continue through the buying cycle. After you have used “video messages” when following up with inquiries (leads) and setting appointments, include these F&I videos in the “video experience” that you send to your leads to confirm appointments.

This provides the shopper with another opportunity to view the various F&I videos, and, with the right software, you can enjoy real-time reporting on the exact video content they view. When your shopper shows up for their appointment, you have insight into all the F&I videos they have watched (or haven’t watched). You know if they watched videos about purchasing with bad credit, lease vs. purchase, the impact of a divorce or bankruptcy, and all the extended warranty and other F&I product videos that you offer. Armed with this information, your team can provide a significantly better experience for each consumer, while helping them with any questions they may be afraid to ask. Both your profits and CSI Scores go up. 

For the best results, I would suggest having the finance manager make multiple videos of products on an individual basis. This personalization will increase the informational and emotional value of your videos and reward you with an even larger success ratio.

For example, your finance manager could create a video explaining why paint & fabric protection is a worthwhile investment for the consumer. Then another video explaining wheel and tire protection. Then continue to create short videos “selling” products as if the customer is sitting right in front of them. In addition, you could also create a short video with the finance manager summarizing all of the finance products.

Regardless of if you use stock product videos, or your own personalized videos, be certain to include some testimonial videos for each product.  Consumers constantly hear how they don’t need the various “upsell” products. Let them hear a few success stories from other consumers who found the product valuable. 

As the finance manager is the correct person to explain and adjust payments based on product and accessory choices, it is important for them to have that engagement and to have these product videos handy should the customer prefer to do everything online. The finance manager can then engage the customer with video via email or even live over a “one-click” video call, whatever the customer’s communication preference may be, while the vehicle paperwork is being created and sent to the customer.

Video can be used in every department to increase brand loyalty, vehicle sales, F&I product sales and service revenue. It is a highly effective tool that should be added to your marketing toolbox. However, to truly maximize the benefit of your videos, utilize your video content across multiple touchpoints as an end-to-end video marketing strategy that combines video content with video data. Then you will realize the true value of video.

Keeping with the Times is Essential in Video Marketing

Video marketing in the automotive industry is very dynamic, which makes it essential to keep your videos relevant and sensitive to your market.

During this pandemic, video has proven to be a tremendous tool for communicating with customers and potential customers, helping to gain their trust and create more impact in every stage of the sales funnel.

Here are a few video strategies that I have found to be successful in many dealerships. They are simple, produce great results, and best of all, take little effort on the part of your dealership.

Service – Most dealerships have processes in place to sanitize their customers’ vehicles after repairs and/or maintenance are completed. Consider making a video illustrating the steps from start to finish so customers can actually SEE what you are doing, rather than try to find it in print.

Does your service department offer vehicle pickup and delivery? Show your customers! Make a video showing a driver picking up the vehicle and then returning it. If there is a loaner car involved, show not only the actual process as it happens but also the customer’s vehicle (and loaner) being sanitized, all the way up to returning the serviced vehicle to the customer.

Do you offer touchless payment options? Can the customer pay online before coming into the store? Be sure to include those features in your video to make your dealership stand out from the competition.

Sales – Most states currently allow dealerships to present and sell cars to customers both online and in store. If a customer wants to come in and kick tires, test drive or make the transaction in person, make a video illustrating what they should expect, along with the safety precautions that your dealerships take for this type of sale. This can easily be done using a salesperson along with another dealership employee acting as the customer. In this way, your dealership will not need to get permission from customers to be filmed.

If your dealership offers to deliver vehicles to the customer’s location for a test drive and delivery of the purchased vehicle, make a video illustrating this process from start to finish. This can help build trust both before and after the transaction.

I see a lot of dealerships starting to shoot great content like I’ve mentioned, but then only post their videos on YouTube or Facebook. Video is an incredibly valuable tool, but to truly maximize your ROI you must have a strategy that gets your videos in front of your audience at the right time of the buying cycle (where it will have the biggest impact). The best way to make it work is to present the videos where your customers will see them.

Your video experience should live on your website, and it should be as easy as possible for a shopper to find. Put your videos in the places where you know your site visitors will be looking since buyers won’t go out of their way during the buying cycle to view your content. To capitalize on the impact video can bring use these videos in a variety of ways:

  • Put value proposition & testimonial videos on the same page as inventory videos so consumers get to see not only how great your inventory is, but how great it would be to do business with you. The majority of consumers are looking for a dealership that they can trust, every bit as much as they are a vehicle to purchase. Don’t make them search your site to learn why you are that dealership, put it in front of them where you know they will be looking.
  • Send video emails with a landing page featuring a vehicle a customer is interested in, while also giving them the option to watch several other videos that feature your inventory, value proposition & testimonials videos. Even include your personal introduction videos, all without having to leave the page.
  • Build a trust relationship between your sales team and customers by having them send picture-in-picture videos of a vehicle a customer showed interest in, explaining the vehicle in more detail, and letting the customer know that your salesperson is a trusted resource throughout their buying process. Be sure to include this video content on the landing page experience that I just mentioned. The possibilities are endless when you utilize video to give your consumers the best experience possible.

We are currently living in an interesting time. People have many different viewpoints when it comes to the pandemic. The most important thing is to put your videos where your customers will see them, showing your customers (as well as potential customers) that you care, are trustworthy, and that your dealership is a place where they can feel safe and comfortable. These emotions are what will make a consumer choose you over the competition, and keep your current customers coming back again and again. The single most effective way to build these feelings and connections? Video.  

8 Quick & Easy Video Email Marketing Best Practices to Boost your Results

by Tim James, COO

Most consumers have a built-in fear of communicating with automotive sales professionals.  Many of the “new age” automotive retailers are trying to play on this fear by running negative ads that make automotive dealerships (and sales professionals) look like high-pressure evil people.

When a consumer does finally reach out to your dealership, using video content in your initial communications can be your opportunity to show them that they will have a GREAT experience working with you and your dealership. People buy from people they like, and video is the best way to show your potential customers why they should like you. It can be one of the most effective ways to humanize your dealership and establish trust with shoppers. 

Here are some quick tips for making the most of your video email campaigns that will increase your click-through and response rates.

1. Include the Word “Video” in the Subject Line & Avoid SPAM “Trigger Words.”

The simple act of adding “video” to an email subject line can increase open rates by 7% and can improve your click-through rate by 96%. Put it in brackets [VIDEO] at the end or beginning of your subject line to make it clear to your audience. People are more curious to see what is inside your email when it includes video and perceive the information displayed in the video to be more valuable.

In addition, the word “video” can help you avoid SPAM filters, which can be triggered for a variety of reasons, causing your email to skip recipients’ inboxes and land straight in their SPAM box. By avoiding trigger words in your email subject lines, you can dramatically increase your chances of getting beyond SPAM filters.

2. Link to the Video (or video landing page)

Unfortunately, some email providers have not started using the latest technology and this can play a significant role when you select a provider. As several email clients cannot play embedded videos, it can be better to provide a link to your video or landing page, rather than embedding it in your email.

3. Place Video Below the Email Message

Adding videos into your email will boost open rates but don’t let the video distract from your main message. An engaged audience will drop what they’re doing to watch a new video, so be sure to add it at the end of the email. By so doing, consumers will read your brief message before watching the video. Keep the text message above the video brief, as the main focus of the email should be the video.

4 Do not Send an Image Only Email

Do not send an image only email, and do not say too much in your email either. Video emails that keep it short and to the point with a word count of 50 words or less receive up to a 52% higher response rate than the same video sent with a long wordy message. 

5. Include a Call to Action

All forms of digital marketing should invite the audience to do something specific, especially when it comes to an unsolicited email or text. Make sure your videos in your emails offer value for the customer and include that critical CTA. The whole point of any message sent to a consumer is to lead them on the path that you want them to follow. Make sure the CTA is easy to understand and clearly directs them. Then ensure you take them where you promised.

6. Be Professional.

Include some basic best practices when taking your video. Have good lighting and a clean and pleasant space to stage your video. It is best to turn your phone to the side and capture the video in landscape mode. And be friendly and enthusiastic in the video (Smile).

7. Have a Variety of Video Content On Your Landing Page.

Now that the consumer has engaged with your email to watch your video message, this is the perfect opportunity for you to provide them with easy access to additional video content that really shows them that “YOU are the good guys,” and they can trust you. Rather than making the consumer search for “where should I buy it” content later in the buying cycle, present it to them now. Move the consumer along in YOUR buying cycle by including Value Proposition, Testimonial, a Personal Introduction, additional Inventory, Promotional, and New Model Test Drive videos on the same landing page as your initial video message. Let the shopper know that they can LIKE and TRUST both you and your dealership before they’ve even decided which vehicle they want to purchase.

8. Leverage The Shopper’s Data

A large number of consumers can disappear after your initial contact with them. How many times have you wondered what happened to that person that you just spoke to (who isn’t calling you back or answering your emails now)? Using a hosting company for your videos that offers detailed insights and data can make it easier to track your video success rates while allowing you to track the actions consumers take. Also, using the right video host can allow you to receive real-time notifications when your other video content (such as your inventory videos) are viewed by these same consumers. This gives you greater insight into which of your leads are still in the market and actively shopping on your website (or the popular marketplaces like AutoTrader, Cars.com, etc.), and provides you with a notification the second that they click to watch your inventory videos on these touch-points, allowing you to follow up with them at the most relevant time.

Video in email is no longer some gimmick. Consumers consistently state that video is their preference. Video has fast become a key factor in running more effective email campaigns. Adding video will breathe new life into your email marketing and is an engaging way to bring compelling content to shoppers, resulting in more appointments for your BDC and sales teams, more up-sell of recommended services for your service department, and higher CSI Scores across your entire store.

Who You Gonna Video Call?

By Tim James

According to Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, the “working-from-home” economy is likely to exist far beyond the pandemic. Employers are enjoying decreased expense in office space and increased employee productivity, while employees have more freedom with the luxury of no longer having to commute. A whopping 42 percent of U.S. employees are now working from home.

How are they able to do that? Via Video, of course.

Statistics increasingly show video as the preferred choice for consumers when it comes to media due to its viability and multiple benefits across all platforms and channels. And, during the pandemic, video has become the most used method of communication on all fronts.

Almost every company outside of essential workers is utilizing video services to efficiently continue their operations and stay in business. Video conference calls have become the norm, rather than the exception and video conferences or person-to-person video calls have exploded out of necessity.

According to Forbes, this digital pivot may become permanent – in all walks of life. Many students are having to do in-home learning and the only way some employees can continue professional development is via video. Trade shows and conferences are opting to hold virtual events First, because it is safer during a pandemic, second because it is much less expensive than in-person events, and third because viewers can choose to watch an event live, or later at a more convenient time.

Video is not going away and is certainly not losing any ground. Its popularity has exploded faster than was expected! When this pandemic eventually goes away, consumers and businesses alike will be fundamentally transformed.

As a marketing and sales tool, video will allow your team to inspire more emotion from a consumer than a text, email, or chat could ever get close to accomplishing. Think about this — when are your sales associates at their best? When they are face-to-face with a consumer, of course. An effective video marketing strategy embraces that understanding and puts your sales associates face-to-face with the consumer, even when the consumer is still at home.

Your dealership would be wise to have a video-first marketing strategy to place you in a position of dominance over your competition who may only use video as a stopgap out of necessity.

Be sure to embrace video now more than ever to take advantage of this extreme acceleration in video adoption by consumers. This will put your dealership ahead of the game and build a sound foundation from which your dealership will benefit for decades to come.

Become a Social Media Influencer

Did you know 92% of consumers trust recommendations from a social media influencer more than they trust advertisements? Lehel Reeves, Flick Fusion’s Director of Partnerships and Business Development, explains why dealerships and salespeople should start using social media accounts to become social media influencers.

5 Beginner Video Tips for Salespeople

By Tim James

Adopting a new technology into our lives can be challenging. When CRMs first came along, many salespeople preferred to keep using their stacks of index cards. Now that we’re in the age of video, many salespeople prefer to use phone calls and emails to communicate with customers. Why change?

Videos incite a significantly greater emotional response from people versus phone calls, emails and text messages, making it easier for salespeople to build relationships. In fact, most automotive salespeople are “at their best” when they are face to face with a shopper versus on the phone (or trading emails/texts), so they are much more effective when communicating with a shopper via a pre-recorded video or live video call when the shopper isn’t ready to (or can’t) visit the store.

If you’re in sales and still aren’t using video to communicate with customers, it’s time to get started. Here are some tips.

1 Just Start

One excuse I hear is “I’m not good with video.” The only way to become good at something is to do it.  Practice and keep practicing. Accept the fact that you’re probably your own worst critic and that you won’t like the first few videos you’ll make. However, they’re probably better than you think, and they’ll get even better as you become comfortable with the technology and the process.

2 Maximize Your Effort

If you’re going to shoot a vehicle walkaround video to post to YouTube or Facebook, don’t stop there! If the video is good, post it on your website VDP and export it to any 3rd Party Marketplaces that you utilize. Live vehicle walkaround videos will increase the engagement and leads that your dealership has coming in from ALL of your other marketing sources utilizing the same video content. Also, share the video in your video email responses to other leads along with your personalized video message. These are effective ways to maximize the impact that the video will have that all require little to no additional effort on your part.  The more exposure you get for every video, the better.

3 Track Your Efforts

Use a technology that gives you real-time notifications when a lead watches one of your videos. Include other inventory videos, value proposition, and testimonial videos and you’ll know when they watch those videos as well.  This gives insight into a customer’s intent to purchase. Additionally, you can get notifications when a consumer watches one of your videos on an online marketplace or third-party shopping site, such as Autotrader. So, you’ll instantly know if a lead switches from looking at new models to used models, and what they’re interested in. Knowledge is power, and you can leverage this to reach out to that lead with the right information at the right time.

4 Focus on the Presentation

Whether you’re making a pre-recorded video or you’re on a live-streaming video call, don’t just list the features of the vehicle; talk about the benefits of those features. Include a short introduction, smile and be enthusiastic. Today’s shopper is looking for a dealership and salesperson to “like and trust” as much as they are a vehicle to purchase.  Let your personality shine through.

5 Stop Looking at the Clock

Many salespeople believe videos must be short, so they make videos under two minutes long. This can shortchange consumers’ expectations. The video should be as long as it takes to answer all the customer’s questions and to effectively “sell” your dealership, yourself, and the car. I see videos that are four- to eight- minutes long that get watched all the way through because they’re informational, presented with emotion, and interesting to the viewer! Remember, these aren’t unsolicited entertainment videos that just happen to appear on the shoppers’ Facebook feed. This is video content that the shopper requested.

Once you start using video to connect with customers, you’ll never go back to using just phone calls and emails. Video will quickly become your go-to method because it gets the best results.