automotive

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.

Body Language Is Important…But Even More So In Digital Marketing

Interpreting meaning through communication can be hard.

For example, the simple statement “Fine.”

What does that word really mean? Ultimately, it depends on the context and, more importantly, how it’s said and the body language which happens in that exact moment.

When your significant other says “fine,” you darn well better know what it means, or you can be in a whole world of trouble! Or, if you tell a teenager they must clean their room before they can go out with friends, play video games or whatever they want, there are many ways fine” can be expressed. If they say it loudly while slamming the door in your face, that has a much different meaning than if they say it in a low submissive but agreeable way.

Humans are masters of perception. We all communicate, and that communication comes across in different ways be it vocal, physical, or via some activity.

But what does all this mean as far as your dealership and communicating with your customers?

As marketers, with all the data available to us today, we can better interpret customer interactions and more effectively communicate with them than ever before.

An argument could be made that a customer’s digital activity can tell us more about their intent than a face-to-face conversation. Ultimately, the digital footprints a customer leaves throughout their car buying journey are, in fact, a conversation. You may not be able to see the customer, but they express their intent through their online activities.

That customer looking at your website and bouncing through your entire used car inventory, who also jumped around on third-party listing sites, is much higher in the sales funnel. They are having a conversation with you. Something along the lines of, “I’m in the market for a car but I don’t know what I want.”

A customer visiting your website, viewing every Honda Civic in stock, is not only telling you they want a Honda Civic but, if you want to get granular, also which trim level, price range and mileage restrictions they value.

Whatever they spend the most time viewing is probably the best fit for what they are searching for. An unlimited amount of data is out there to help you identify, define and motivate customers. You must just take the time to look at it.

Now that you know the customer’s intent, where they are in the funnel and what they are interested in, what’s the best way to communicate with them?

VIDEO!

While you have the secret-agent advantage of all this relevant data showing the customer’s intent, the customer still wants good old face-to-face interaction when it comes down to the sales process. Simply sending a templated email accomplishes nothing. It’s not personal, is not directed to them, fails to really interact on an emotional level, and usually has little relevance.

Of course, you “could” take the creepy road and tell them everything you know about them but that would likely be counterproductive.

The best way to engage a customer is through a personalized video response. They can see you, hear you and read your body language. If you’re sincere, friendly and engaging, and use the data you have about the customer’s digital journey to craft a personal response, the customer will be able to relate; rapport will be established infinitely better than any “Buy from us because we love you” e-mail template.

Don’t be afraid to send video email responses to your customers. Most of your competitors simply send those canned templates from their CRM with ZERO impact – if they even make it through the customer’s spam filter.

Make an impression and win business using technology that allows you to interact with customers the same way business has been won for decades… in person. With video you can now interact in person, without the customer even being in your showroom.

The statistics show that customers respond to video. They can read your personality and intentions more clearly via video than a written communication, because emotions are more clearly illustrated. And, more importantly, as a result they will connect with you better and choose your dealership to buy or service their car. Then everything will be just “fine!”

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.

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.

Master Video Fundamentals Before Going Social

When I talk to dealers about video marketing, one question I get asked a lot is “What about social?” In particular the marketing folks want to know what types of videos they should make to post on their social media platforms, which social media platforms drive the best results and how best to engage their social audiences.

These are all valid questions for advanced video marketers. But if you are just starting a video marketing strategy these are the wrong questions to be asking.

The primary goal of your video marketing strategy is to increase lead conversions on your website. For the first six months to a year, that is all you should be focusing on.

A secondary goal for your video marketing strategy may be to drive more customers to your website, or increase engagement with your social media followers. But you should not even attempt these goals until you have mastered the fundamentals of your primary goal.

After all, what is the point of driving traffic to your website if you are not converting visitors to leads once they get there?

Let’s say you post a funny video on your Facebook page and someone clicks through to your website. When they get to your website, all they see are static photos and Vehicle Details Pages (VDPs) with text only. That’s not what this person is expecting! You caught their attention with video, you got the click-through with a video, but when they get to your website there’s no videos!

When it comes to video marketing, I always recommend wading in slowly. Start with your inventory videos and master the fundamentals before you do anything else. That’s not to say the branding and fun stuff isn’t important. It is, but the goal of those videos is different than the goal of inventory videos.

With inventory videos, your goal is to present your inventory to a potential buyer just like the best salesperson in your store would. Your goal is to create emotional desire in a car shopper, so they take the next step and reach out to you.

How to Master Inventory Videos

Inventory videos are powerful because they have the potential to change a car shopper’s mindset. Most consumers visit your website hoping that your dealership has the vehicle they want. A dynamic inventory video can change that paradigm to make the consumer want and take mental ownership of a vehicle that you already have.

This paradigm shift is backed up by metrics. Overall engagement on a VDP featuring a live walkaround video jumps an average of 600 percent versus engagement on a static VDP. This translates into an approximate 30 to 35 percent increase in leads, according to feedback from our dealer customers.

The first step in mastering inventory videos is to come up with a process for creating them. You could assign someone internally, or use an outside lot services company or a video production company. Come up with a template for what should be included in each video, such as:

  • Front, side and rear view shots of the vehicle
  • Interior shots of the dashboard and infotainment systems
  • Interior shots of the front and rear passenger seats
  • Close ups of tires
  • Shots of special features, e.g. roomy trunk, video screens in the back, back-up cameras

Additionally, try to add one or two “why buy here” value proposition statements, such as promoting your fast and easy financing options, or your no-hassle shopping experience.

Be sure to add in banners promoting special offers such as 0% down or cash back. Finally, don’t forget your phone number and a call to action! A car shopper should be able to click on the video and have the option to submit a lead, or if they are using a mobile device, click to call.

Once you have mastered the process of creating your inventory videos, the next step is to make sure these inventory videos get exposure.

In addition to posting inventory videos on your VDPs, distribute them on third-party sites such as Autotrader and Cars.com. Use them in your lead follow-up process and in email marketing campaigns. And yes, you can even post them on your Facebook page.

The next step in mastering inventory videos is to make sure you host your videos on a platform that can collect and use data. Technology exists right now that allows your dealership sales team to get real-time alerts every time someone watches one of your videos. Many times that ‘someone’ can be matched to a profile in your CRM.

Imagine getting an alert that a customer you haven’t spoken with in two years is on Autotrader watching one of your inventory videos. Imagine getting an alert that one of your regular service customers just watched an inventory video on Facebook. You have instant leads and you have their contact information!

There’s no more relevant time to call these prospects than right now, while they are engaged with your brand.

Once you have mastered the art of creating inventory videos, getting them seen and incorporating user data into your lead follow up and marketing processes, you will see an increase in your website and phone leads. Only then should you start thinking about additional types videos that you can create.

In addition to inventory videos, I typically recommend value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos and service department videos. These should all be displayed prominently on your website but they can also be posted on your social media platforms and used in email marketing and lead follow up campaigns.

But first, master the basics. Inventory videos are the best way to turn website visitors into leads, and these should be your primary focus.