automotive

Do Stitched Photo Videos Provide Value, or are they Outdated Technology?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

A Mobile First Strategy is the Future of Marketing

Consumers increasingly use mobile devices to view content online. Study after study cites the fact that mobile devices are on a continued rise as the preferred medium for content. They surpassed desktops not too long ago and will undoubtedly continue to rise in dominance.

Mobile devices are always at hand, can be used almost anywhere, and are a convenient way to consume content. Because of this, marketers are on the lookout for the preferred type of content consumers want to view on their mobile devices.

What’s easier to do on a mobile device? Reading an article or watching a video? If you answered watching a video, then you’re in the majority.  Video ad spend is expected to reach over $100 billion by 2023, accounting for 80 percent of all Internet traffic according to a recent article on MarTech.

Facebook was the first to tie “mobile first” to “video first” as a strategy for brands. Why? Well, think about the billions of Facebook users and its unlimited content. Facebook knows where people browse on their site and, more importantly, what type of content they pay the most attention to. And that content is video.

Just look at the evolution of video. Why do you think we’ve progressed from stitched photo videos to real-time video and now 360 degree, augmented and virtual reality video? It’s not because marketers want it. It’s because consumers want it. There is simply no other reason to create a strategy and invest the time and effort into content production.

Look at Netflix. It went from a small mail-order movie rental company into one that dominates consumer’s televisions with streaming content. It is now one of the fastest and most prolific producers of original content in the country. Why would it choose to make that investment? Because that’s what consumers want! Netflix knows that the more eyeballs it can get, the more money it can make.

And that’s precisely how you should be viewing video content.

Video continues to dominate every form of content delivery. It takes less effort to consume and is more immersive. It’s easier to consume on mobile devices and captures more details in a way that text can’t. A consumer can’t really “see” a car by reading a Monroney sticker. They can, however, kick its virtual tires online and cruise through and around it via video.

Video content is here to stay. Not only is it here to stay, but marketers that fail to use it – and fail to have a robust mobile and video strategy – will quickly find themselves left behind eating their competitors’ dust. And, more importantly, left behind by their potential customers.

Decide now to increase your video content production efforts and include mobile in your strategy. You will quickly find that not only do your customers like it… but so does your bank account.

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!

Will Video Bring You New Customers?

While many dealerships agree that video is important and worthwhile, at the same time some think it’s time-consuming and lack the resources to put a video marketing strategy in place.

What if I told you that acquiring and scaling a well-planned video marketing strategy which leverages video content for shoppers throughout the entire buying cycle can be automated AND cost less than $5.00 per unit a month? Or that this same video content can help in search engine optimization for your website at no additional cost?  And, how about this: that same video content can also build customer rapport — AND attract new buyers you don’t even know exist? Would it then appear to be worth it?

According to NADA, the average dealership runs a marketing cost per sale of $640 per unit. Dealerships spend a ton of money between all their marketing sources attempting to attract attention to their inventory.

And how about this for a statistic? 93% of marketers say video brought them new customers — Interested now?

There is a case to be made that social media can help sell more cars. In fact, according to a study by leading video research company Animoto, 73% of consumers responded that their purchase decision was impacted by a company’s social media presence.

And what is the most popular type of content across all social media properties?

Video.

The best part is that with a scalable video marketing strategy you can use all of the same automated video content for your social media strategies as well, dramatically increasing the return on investment from all of your digital marketing. Would you rather spend $640 per unit — or much less?  It makes sense to look at what moves units and acquires new customers for the least amount of money. That’s how you increase profitability.

Still need convincing? How about this: 57% of millennials watch more video ads on social media than on television, and 45% of consumers discover brands through video ads; more than recommendations from friends, which is at 31%.

When it comes to discovering brands, word of mouth is still king. But, increasingly, consumers get recommendations from friends and then check out the dealership via social media such as Facebook or online reviews.

Having a healthy and robust presence on social media with video content can influence car shoppers and bring you sales from shoppers you didn’t even know were in the market.

Video content is here to stay and will increasingly dominate all platforms as the preferred type of content influencing sales. If you don’t already have a strategy in place to produce video content to market your inventory, your store’s value propositions, your monthly promotions, your employees, and your brand, you’re behind the eight-ball.

It really doesn’t take as much work as you think. And, the rewards you will reap are well worth the effort.