cars

How to Shoot Professional Quality Videos with a Smartphone

When dealerships first start their video marketing programs, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “Will I have to buy an expensive camera?” The answer is no. Just about everyone these days has a smartphone that can shoot HD video. When used properly, the quality of video produced can be exceptional. All it takes is practice.

Most dealers start with inventory walkaround videos and these are probably the trickiest videos to shoot, so that’s what we’ll focus on here.

First, to ensure a good high-resolution (and non-pixelated) video, adjust your camera setting to record video at 1920 x 1080 and 30 frames per second (fps), unless you plan to extract your still images for the inventory from the video.  In that case you may want to utilize 60 frames per second (fps).

Next, invest in a stabilizer. Most smartphones have a pretty good stabilizer built into them today, but they will only make a good video better. This is the merchandising layer for your inventory that most shoppers are going to view, so invest in the tools that you need to provide the best experience for your shoppers that you can. Don’t fool yourself into believing you can walk around the vehicle while holding the smartphone steady in your hand. The result will be a bouncy video that will make your viewers seasick and result in low video completion rates.

A hand-held stabilizer or tripod is better than nothing, but if you want to produce the best quality video invest in a 3-axis gimbal for a couple hundred bucks. It is worth every penny! For top of the line stabilization a 4-axis gimbal is even better, but may run you a couple thousand.

Currently we recommend using a set-up that includes your smartphone, and the DJI OSMO camera/gimbal combo. This is a really cool camera that takes amazing quality video and connects wirelessly with your smartphone, so you can use your smartphone to view what the camera is recording.

You can find a DJI OSMO starter kit for around $500 and depending on how you want to accessorize it, you may spend $700 to $800. This is a small investment that will make your inventory shine!  GoPro also offers some great camera/stabilizer combinations that cost less and produce very good quality videos as well.

Once you have a stabilizer, the next thing you’ll want to address is lighting. Smartphones have small lenses so adequate lighting is critical. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re shooting outdoors, but always position the vehicle so you will not be pointing the camera into direct light, such as the sun.

When you first begin shooting walkarounds, you may want to allow extra time to shoot the entire video two or three times. With each ‘take,’ experiment with different ISO settings, which measure your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. On a sunny day your ISO settings will be lower and on cloudy days your ISO settings will be higher. If you do shoot on a sunny day, avoid shooting midday because that’s when the sun casts the harshest shadows. Instead, schedule shoots for early morning or late afternoon.

For vehicle walkarounds, you want to feature shots panning the side of the vehicle, as well as the front and back so the viewer has a good sense of what the vehicle looks like from all angles. Open the doors and shoot the interior, both front and back.

Then focus on shooting the features that you will use to sell the car, such as the Infotainment system, new tires, safety features, etc. The total length of your walkaround videos can range from one to four minutes. Don’t believe experts who tell you that all videos have to be one minute or less. Though this is probably true for a bad or dull video, if the presentation is informative and entertaining, two, three or even four minutes is okay. There are plenty of dealerships that get 80 to 90 percent completion rates with videos that long, and plenty of dealerships that only get a 50 to 60 percent completion rate with their bouncy and dull one- minute videos.

If you are worried about the audio track for your videos, you can have your photographer shoot your videos and have a data driven audio track added to the video automatically.  If you are adding your own audio while shooting the videos, or if you decide to shoot your walkaround videos featuring a salesperson or spokesperson giving a live presentation, invest in a good noise-cancelling microphone.

Either way you can always go back and replace the audio layer of the video if you want or need to without having to re-shoot the video.  You can even personalize the audio layer of the videos for specific leads (personalized walkarounds) without having to shoot another video, saving you a LOT of time while producing an identical personalized walkaround video to one that was shot from scratch.

Finally, expect that the first few videos you create will probably suck. Don’t be discouraged! Practice makes perfect. Keep doing it and eventually things will click. Pretty soon you will find your own unique style and every walkaround video will become a mini-masterpiece.

What tips do you have for shooting professional quality video with your smartphone?

[VIDEO] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 2: Is It Right For Me

In this series of video blogs, Flick Fusion COO Tim James shares Google’s 5 auto shopping moments that every dealership should know and how to take advantage of those moments to lead customers to your dealership.

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

Those of you with spouses have probably heard this at least once: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!” Whether at home or at work, miscommunication can cause plenty of problems.

Have you ever misinterpreted the tone of an email that a colleague wrote to you? Perhaps you thought a tersely written email meant that person was angry, but in fact, they were just rushed. Or someone joked about something in an email, but you took offense because you thought they were serious?

Miscommunication is so common that it’s one of the main reasons why some dealerships require BDC staff and salespeople to use templates for customer communications. And it’s why some CEOs are issuing video recommendations to employees, instead of email memos.

Videos allow people to see how you’re saying something, leaving little room for error in the interpretation of what you’re saying. In fact, videos are so effective at expressing personality and tone that it’s become trendy for job seekers to send video resumes to prospective employers.

Let’s face it: a public perception still exists that in general, car dealers are not humble, caring or honest. One bad experience with an overeager or aggressive salesperson is all it takes to forever sour the car-buying experience for a consumer.

As a dealer, how do you change this perception? You could try creating marketing slogans and post them on your website, in ads and in emails, but words by themselves don’t have much impact. Online consumers are very adept at scanning information to find out what’s important to them; which isn’t necessarily what the dealership thinks is important. We all have the ability to ignore or visually ‘tune out’ messages right before our eyes.

When a consumer watches a video, however, it’s not as easy to tune out the message. Videos offer a multimedia experience with live action, sounds and sights, so the entire message is absorbed. Retention rises too. Video viewers retain 80% of what they hear and see in videos, versus just 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they see.

This is partly due to the fact that so much of our communication is non-verbal. Think about your own experiences. Have you ever had a customer service experience and were put off by the customer service rep, even though they were saying all the right things? Perhaps you believed the person wasn’t truly sincere. Or perhaps their tone started getting defensive, leaving you with the impression that they didn’t care about your problem.

When we communicate, we pick up multiple cues from facial expressions, gestures and tone. This happens largely on a sub-conscious level, but the end result–the emotion we feel–is very conscious.

If you’re looking for ways to improve customer perception and communications at your dealership, try creating the following videos.

  • A value proposition video that features a dealer or other company spokesperson showing, not telling, what your dealership has to offer
  • Vehicle walk around videos that generate emotion and excitement about your inventory
  • Customer testimonial videos that feature real customers saying nice things about your staff; these do a lot to alleviate car shoppers’ fears about a bad experience
  • Lead follow up videos from salespeople that engage car shoppers; if the salesperson comes across as likeable, these greatly increase the probability of response
  • Service videos that feature service staff help to build trust and the perception of honesty

Of course, you have to make sure that your videos are conveying not just the right message, but the right tone. When you first start to create videos, ask as many people as you can for their objective and true opinions. Don’t get emotionally attached to the videos you’ve created, and don’t get defensive if the feedback from others isn’t what you want to hear. The last thing you want to do it spend time and money creating videos that turn prospective customers off.

Video communication is powerful, so use it wisely. More than two million years of evolution has equipped most humans with the ability to accurately sense insincerity, arrogance and plain old hogwash. So say what you mean, and if you don’t truly mean it, don’t say it.

Think Virtual Reality is a Fad? Think Again.

by Tim James

Virtual Reality has been quite a craze recently with video gaming and other consumer electronics. However, the high cost of entry and expensive units limited its reach. Even Google’s cardboard VR glasses required smartphones that cost upwards of $700. The Oculus Rift Goggles were even more expensive and required high-end computers to work.

Now, however, Sony has provided a more cost-effective way for consumers to experience VR with the release of VR glasses designed for use with the Playstation 4 game console. With an installed base of 44 million Playstation 4 owners, the glasses instantly sold out on pre-order and are still hard to acquire, which illustrates the high demand for VR experiences. This release immediately made Virtual Reality readily available for mass consumption.

But if you think 44 million is a lot, what about rolling out Virtual Reality to over 2 billion consumers?

Well, that’s about to happen!

In a recent article, Facebook’s CTO revealed a roadmap for the future of Virtual Reality. As you may or may not know, Facebook owns Oculus Rift. However, according to Facebook, their plans for the future of VR for Facebook users do not include Oculus Rift. Instead, Facebook is working on a standalone product that will make Virtual Reality glasses which are integrated with Facebook “cheaper, easy to use and highly distributed.”

The project, named StandAlone, could instantly thrust Virtual Reality into almost every consumer’s hands, transforming it into common use in all areas including conversations via messaging (both audio and video), marketing and content on Facebook’s platform. Imagine experiencing all of the content posts and marketing messages in a VR setting.

Many automakers are currently implementing or actively working on their own VR experiences. And a few already have VR content in place. Virtual Reality is here and consumers are pursuing and embracing this technology. With the cost of entry decreasing and consumer adoption increasing, Facebook’s VR glasses could instantly change the game.

Dealerships that aren’t prepared or that have not already implemented VR experiences with their inventory merchandizing may find themselves scrambling as this technology is increasingly in the hands of consumers. VR isn’t going away, and it is not a fad. It’s also not the future. It’s the now.

Are you prepared?

Don’t Use a Band-Aid When What You Really Need Are Stitches!

by Tim James

There is a lot of talk and buzz building about the importance of video marketing – as there should be. Video is quickly becoming the preferred medium for consumers. Don’t believe me? Literally thousands of articles exist on the Internet illustrating the benefits of using video in your marketing.

But for this blog I would like to take a step back for a minute. I’ve talked about using video in emails, virtual reality, etc. However, it’s time to get back to basics, because, despite the power of video, there are still some dealers who don’t even have videos of their vehicles on their websites.

Let’s get real here. You spend tons of money on your website. That website has one major purpose – to show off your inventory so that a car shopper can get emotionally attached to a vehicle and call you. And I am sure you also spend quite a bit of money driving traffic to your website and vehicle display pages. As well as a considerable chunk of change to get your vehicles on third party listing sites in order to influence and engage with car buyers there. Seeing as all this money is spent to market inventory and drive traffic to it in order to do the only thing that matters – sell a car – then it makes sense to ensure the greatest return on your investment by having the very best advertisement for your vehicle on that vehicle display page!

If you aren’t actually taking full-motion videos to merchandize your vehicles, the next best thing is stitched photo videos. Yeah, I have heard the naysayers that don’t see the value of stitched photo videos but, at the same time, are not doing any video whatsoever. Those dealers are missing out on customers. You don’t have to listen to me… but you should be listening to your customers – and here’s a nugget of data for you:

According to data, stitched photo videos on vehicle display pages have an average 75 percent completion rate.

Now let me ask you a question. Would stitched photo videos have a 75 percent completion rate if customers DIDN’T like them? Of course not. Most dealers have about 40 or so pictures of each vehicle along with a written vehicle description designed to provide information while simultaneously creating an emotional attachment to the vehicle. By presenting this same information with a video (even a stitched photo video), you increase both the informational and emotional value of the content, which means you get more leads.

Look, let’s remove our “opinions” from the equation and just focus on the data, which clearly shows that consumers like and are influenced by stitched photo inventory videos. Time and time again we see dealers go from NO video whatsoever to stitched photo videos — and very quickly realize a significant increase in some of their most important KPIs. We have seen122% increases in unique VDP views, 110% increase in total VDP views, 75% increase in return website visitors and lead form conversions of 95% or more. These are actual increases realized by your peers, just by adding stitched photo inventory videos!

If you’re NOT using video, don’t you want these performance increases from your website? And these are results from dealers that simply flipped a switch with their video provider and turned on stitched photo videos. This took no extra effort on their part whatsoever. The pictures are already being taken. The software does the rest.

Nobody ever said video marketing needs to be overwhelming. Sometimes you have to crawl before you can run. But what really matters is that the mere act of crawling will get you farther than doing nothing whatsoever.

There are many other reasons that inventory videos are critical to your Video Marketing Strategy, even if you only use stitched photo videos — particularly when it comes to the data capture and utilization power of inventory videos. The bottom line is that customers want to watch inventory videos and they will have a significant impact on your sales. If you don’t provide it for them, you may find them watching another dealership’s videos. And that probably won’t work out in your favor.

Five Types of Videos You Must Have Today

By Tim James

Video content is now the preferred medium for consumers and statistics show that consumer Internet traffic for online video will increase by 80% by the year 2018. That’s not too far away.

And, when both are presented on the same page, consumers would rather watch a video than read text. For that simple reason, video content simply converts better.

There are many types of video content and unless you devote (or outsource) this content, it can be difficult and take some hard work to produce all of the different types of video you need. This can include: Pre-Roll; PPC & Re-Targeting video campaigns; promotional; model comparison; video email campaigns; in-market video display; new model test drive; value proposition; testimonial; inventory lead follow up; delivery; service department; and, finally, life cycle marketing videos. Are you overwhelmed yet?

While all of these are important, I would like to help simplify this for you by focusing on the five types of video content that have the biggest impact on conversions, leads and sales.

Here are the five types of video content you should focus on:

  1. New Model Test-Drive – According to Google, the top three types of video content that auto shoppers are searching for are: test-drives, features & options and vehicle walkthroughs. In fact, the time consumers spend watching these kinds of videos has doubled in the past year. For this reason, if you fail to provide this video content for your customers, I guarantee that they will watch it on someone else’s website! If your competitor has New Model Test-Drive videos and you don’t, they may be getting the shopper into their funnel higher in the buying cycle — and you may lose them before you even get started!
  1. Inventory – Your VDP pages on both your website and 3rd party sites are THE most important advertisements your inventory could have. You spend a lot of money trying to get traffic on those pages. However, it’s becoming harder to differentiate your dealership from VDPs by your competition. Most websites are very similar – especially the VDP pages – and you really don’t have much control of the content you can put on them. So how do you create a more compelling VDP page that sets your vehicle apart from all of the other similar ones? Through video. Yes, perhaps you think it’s difficult to take full motion videos of each of your vehicles. But here’s the thing: video is no longer an option. If you can’t do it, have your lot service do it. If neither of these is an option for you, then use automated services that stitch together the phots into a video format. Why? Because they work. Your time on site will increase by 20% or more, videos will have an average completion rate of upwards of 75%, lead form conversions will increase by 20% and engagement by 200%! Inventory videos have a significant impact and are ridiculously inexpensive to create.
  1. Value Proposition – As much as shoppers are looking for a vehicle to fall in love with, they are also looking for a dealership and salesperson they can trust. One of the first things you train a new salesperson to do is to sell the dealership, then themselves and then the car, right? Why would you do it any differently when the “salesperson” that the customer first encounters is your website? Consumers simply want a dealership that they can trust to be fair and honest with them. That’s what this type of video content is designed to achieve.
  2. Testimonials – These videos reinforce the trust factor and compliment your value proposition videos with a combination of selling both the dealership and the salesperson. Consumers trust other consumers and video testimonials are a powerful way to show potential customers that previous customers had a great car-buying experience with your dealership and/or salesperson. They also show that it was so good that they were willing to broadcast it publicly via a video testimonial. People communicate through tone and body language – something that text cannot fulfill. Video, on the other hand, can. Prospective customers watching your testimonial videos can identify with, understand and be influenced by that testimonial, just as if the person giving the testimonial was standing in front of them.
  1. Lead Follow-up – When consumers submit inquiries via third party sites, oftentimes they are contacted by more than one dealership. Even if they convert on your own website, the chances are great that they are also cross-shopping you with your closest brand competitor. Most e-mails coming from dealership CRMs are templates. Consumers can smell these a mile away. They know these weren’t created specifically for them. If you send these, the consumer isn’t going to be impressed. However, sending a personalized video e-mail, makes an impression. In fact, it makes so great an impression that video e-mails see a 200% higher click-through rate and 80% get more replies. They also have a 70% higher conversion rate and 65% of the consumers watch 100 percent of the video!

Starting your video marketing with a focus on these 5 types of video content should immediately increase VDP views, conversions and, ultimately, sales. Keep in mind, however, that simply creating the videos is only the first piece of the puzzle. You can create all of the video content you want but if you aren’t doing it with a strategy in place, you may find less success.

In my next blog, I’ll show you what a strategy looks like, how to implement it and why choosing WHERE your videos are is extremely important.

Two Tips to Differentiate Your Dealership from 99 percent Of Competitors

by Brian Cox

In order to decrease bounce rates, if a customer clicks on an ad – whether that’s a banner ad, PPC, email ad or one specifically targeted for a mobile device – it is not a good practice to simply take that customer to your home page. Forcing a consumer to then do a second search for the information promised in the ad is a recipe for failure. Best practices prove that creating landing pages relevant to the ad itself result in higher conversion rates.

Wistia Co-founder and CEO, Chris Savage, revealed in a recent blog that out of the estimated 375,000 landing pages in existence, only 0.25 percent use video. That statistic could offer an immediate opportunity for dealerships. By simply incorporating video content into a landing page, you’ll be differentiating yourself from 99.75 percent of not just the automobile industry, but ALL industries, according to Savage’s study.

It’s a well-known fact that video converts better than any other medium. Consumers love video content and businesses are working hard to create it and get it published. Social media platforms are begging popular music artists, news media and other top video content publishers to publish directly to their platforms. In exchange, these platforms offer a reach beyond what these companies can expect to get through simply linking to a video on YouTube, or any other video publishing platform. Because consumers are responding so positively to video content, it makes perfect sense that delivering that content on a landing page engages your customers better and increases conversion rates.

Just as important, however, is to ensure that the video content is engaging. Another tidbit revealed by Mr. Savage is that you are just as likely to lose a viewer’s interest in the first 2 percent of your video (the nose) as you are in the 96 percent that is the body. His advice is that viewers prefer jumping right into useful content and will drop off when introductions and brand offerings flood the beginning of the video.

So, if we look at this data, an effective video marketing strategy that could set a dealership apart from its competitors should incorporate video content into landing pages. This video content must be relevant, engaging and begin with the content promised, rather than lengthy intros or branding. These two things could very well result in dealerships seeing higher conversion rates, more leads and more car sales.