cars

In Marketing, Consumers Want to Know What is In It For Me

by Tim James

 

People aren’t watching your commercial or video because they want you to sell them your product. They’re watching because they want you to sell them a solution.

In the world of online marketing, oftentimes marketers forget this very basic concept. Think of it as painting pictures when selling. The idea is that you want to tell the consumer why they need a feature, so that the consumer will visualize how each feature will make their life better, easier, more efficient. How it will make them more money, or provide a solution to a need. It’s not uncommon for salespeople to go on and on about the features of a vehicle. It has this type engine. It’s safe. It has Bluetooth, etc. They may as well (and some probably are) read the window sticker to the customer. Great salespeople, however, understand that the customer doesn’t necessarily care about the fact that the vehicle has Bluetooth, unless it’s tied back to how it benefits the customer.

Mr. Customer, one of the great features on this vehicle is that it has Bluetooth functionality. This will allow you to connect your cell phone wirelessly and accept or make phone calls without taking your hands off of the steering wheel. Which will make your commute for you and your family safer.

Consumers may watch dozens of video walkarounds in their car-shopping journey. If you’re doing live video walkarounds of your vehicles, consider this: How would you do a walkaround for a customer right in front of you? Why would you do your live video walkaround for your website and VDP’s any differently?

Create more memorable videos that capture a customer’s attention and sell the consumer on why they need the features of each vehicle. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk about the vehicle’s features. What I’m saying is that you’ll create more powerful videos if you tell the consumer why those features are important and highlight the impact each feature will have on their lives.

Live Video Walkarounds: Are they Worth the Effort?

by Tim James

While most forms of digital marketing offer some value to dealers, the one constant has – and always will be – the better your inventory merchandising, the higher your sales.

In the digital world, your merchandising takes place on your VDP Pages, making your VDP Pages one of (if not “the”) most valuable pieces of digital real estate that you have today. The goal of the merchandising on your VDP Pages is to get a consumer emotionally attached to the vehicle, to take “mental ownership.” Or, at a minimum, to generate enough interest that the shopper will come to your store and take a test drive. If you can’t obtain one of these goals, then you hope that your presentation of the vehicle at least had a large enough impact on the shopper that they will remember one of your vehicles as they continue their shopping and bounce from site to site.

This is why you invest the time and/or money into your current digital marketing strategy: You have a website that gets good traffic and that has good flow to the Vehicle Details Pages (VDPs); pay 3rd parties for VDPs on their sites; have high quality photos for each vehicle on its VDP; use a good quality vehicle description for each vehicle; and even have all kinds of “conversion widgets” and such on your VDP Pages. You know how important your VDP Pages are. And you currently invest a lot of time and money into your efforts to have the “best” presentation of your vehicles as possible on those VDPs.

Now, up to this point, I haven’t told you anything that you don’t already know. But let’s consider this:

• People retain 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and an amazing 70% of what they see & hear combined. This means that a shopper is at least 40% more likely to form an emotional attachment and remember “your” inventory if they are able to watch videos of the vehicles on your VDPs.

• More than 85% of today’s consumer’s say that they prefer product video over photos and a text based product description. Shoppers are significantly more likely to spend a greater amount of time on your VDPs — and more likely to return to YOUR website at a future time — if they know that they can receive their content the in the form in which they desire to receive it…video.

• Live Inventory Videos average 600% more engagement than stitched photo videos. This means that having a stitched photo video is better than not having a video at all; however, you will receive a significant boost in engagement if you are utilizing live inventory videos. This IS the best presentation of your vehicles (merchandising) possible for your VDPs.

The actual process of shooting a live inventory video only takes around 2 to 5 minutes per vehicle. Yes, it may take you a little longer in the beginning, when you first start shooting the videos, and before you are comfortable with the process. But, after you’ve shot a few, you should easily be able to get your process down to the 2 to 5 minute range. The actual process of shooting a live video is hardly an overwhelming investment of time, especially when considering the engagement and conversion benefits.

What DOES take time is everything else. You have to manually upload the video to a “host” (or multiple hosts), rename every file as you upload it, and then manually process the video URL to each location that you would like for the video to play. I’m sure there are plenty of you reading this who remember the days that this same “time consuming” process was at one time true for your photos. Shooting the photos was the easy part, but to get your photos to all of the various digital touch-points, you had to manually rename them and upload them touch-point by touch-point. Instead, many dealerships would either choose to not keep their photos current on the various digital touch-points, to outsource the photo process to a 3rd party, or would hire an in-house staff to do nothing but shoot and upload photos all day. As time progressed, and as dealerships started to realize how important the photos were to the merchandising process, more and more started investing in technology that made the upload and distribution process fast and easy. They still had to have someone shoot their photos, but that’s all they had to do and technology took care of the rest.

The great news is that this same technology now exists for your videos. All someone has to do is shoot the video (2 to 5 minutes) and technology will automatically name, upload, and distribute the videos for you (and often in real-time). In fact, you can even have your photographer shoot the video for you at the same time they are shooting their photos. And if you aren’t comfortable with your photographer talking about the vehicles while shooting the videos, then technology can even automatically add the audio layer to the video as it is being automatically uploaded. And you could even have one of your Sales or BDC Team members (from the comfort of their own office) re-record the audio layer of the video and instantly replace the automated audio layer on all of the digital touch-points (in real-time), if so desired. No more wind or highway noises, no airplanes flying overhead, and no worrying about the weather.

Even greater news is that these same videos can then also be utilized by your sales team and/or BDC team for personalized walkaround videos for lead responses. Instead of the time consuming, over and over process of shooting one video that would be seen by one person, of checking out the keys, finding the vehicle on the lot (in the heat, cold, rain, snow), pulling the vehicle out of the line, shooting the video, parking the vehicle, walking back inside, checking in the keys, uploading the video to a “host”, grabbing the URL and sending the video URL out in an email…the sales or BDC team member can now simply pull up the existing video (being used on the VDPs), re-record a personalized message as the audio, add background music (if desired), click save, and email out…all in less time than it takes to check out the keys and find the vehicle on the lot.

We used to find all kinds of excuses for why we didn’t keep our VDPs (across all of the digital touch-points) updated each day with 25, 35, 55+ photos. Excuses ranged from “it’s too much work” to “it costs too much money (if outsourced).” And I’m sure you can find plenty of new excuses as to why you aren’t shooting live videos for your VDPs and using walkaround videos for your lead responses…but the fact is that “it’s too much work,” is no longer a valid excuse, especially when you consider the impact that it will have on your sales.

Car Shopping: The Dating Game

by Tim James

For many car owners, their vehicles become an extension of their lives, a partner, and something that they have a true emotional bond with. In most places, cars are necessary to life. We use them to get to work, visit friends and family and take our kids to football practice. According to an article on the Tempo blog, a study done by Harvard Health Watch found that, on average, a person spends 37,935 hours driving during a lifetime – over 4 years of their lives. It’s no wonder that consumers build an emotional connection with their vehicles.

A time will come for nearly every consumer when a new vehicle is necessary. Perhaps because of an expanding family, an accident, or the fact that the age and condition of a current vehicle necessitates it. These can be emotional times for people, and can be an important thing for us to consider in the buying process — the fact that some consumers have emotional attachments to their current vehicle and are looking for their next “partner,” if you will.

Brands lure consumers to their vehicles with original content designed to generate interest in their make. It is then your job to take that and transition it to interest in a specific vehicle. Think of it like speed dating. The car lots of the world are now represented online with every dealership of every make representing potential suitors. However, few do a good job of representing their potential “dates.” The consumer wades through countless profiles and descriptions trying to find their next “partner.” The process becomes frustrating as the consumer’s search narrow in, become more specific, yet they are met with numerous profiles that all virtually look the same. You have the same 35 to 50 photos as everyone else, the same list of features, and the same buttons with the same calls to action as everyone else. Why should the shopper choose you?

The point is that successful dealers make it as easy as possible for a car shopper to start the love connection with THEIR car by telling the vehicle’s story through images, narratives descriptions and, most importantly, a good unique video.

But that’s not all. Let’s take the dating analogy again — Perhaps match.com isn’t the ideal place for you to meet that next special someone. It’s certainly not the only dating site in existence. To position your dealership’s inventory to have the best chance of success, you need to make sure that you are on as many dating sites as possible. Ensuring that your car has the best chance of getting chosen involves developing a strategy that reaches the right shopper on the right touch-point at the right time in their buying cycle. With the right strategy, you will appeal to the fundamental emotional relationship that most shoppers are searching for (it’s not just a car to them) and successfully match more shoppers with their next “partner” than you will by simply trying to motivate the shopper with “price”.

In Marketing, New Trumps Used Every Time

by Brian Cox

Bob visits a website searching for a new vehicle. As he filters down to the model he is considering, he is confronted with a seemingly endless list of stock photos with similar prices. Frustrated at the lack of information, he leaves and attempts his search on another site just to get the same results.

Suzy is in the market for a used vehicle. After comparing vehicles by prices and mileage, she finds one that fits her needs and her budget. The vehicle doesn’t have a very good description, however, and she has questions about the vehicle’s condition. She fills out the form and asks for more pictures of the vehicle. All she gets in return are repeated invites to schedule an appointment while being bombarded with phone calls from salespeople.

Joe is shopping for a new vehicle also. Joe is a very meticulous person. His house is always in order. His DVDs are alphabetized. He refuses to buy anything used. He knows that he wants the new Mustang. He also knows that he wants it to have as few miles as possible and, if feasible, to never have even been test-driven. He visits his local dealer’s website and all he sees are stock photos. He resigns himself to the fact that he is going to have to physically go to the dealership and inspect vehicles, which he does not have time for.

In all of these situations, the online shopper could have converted to a lead or sale. The friction point that stopped the customer from converting was very simple – lack of information. Humans are all different in their peculiarities, but do have one thing in common; they want to get the best value for their dollar. Had any of these dealerships taken the time to enhance their VDPs with dozens of photos and videos, these shoppers may have taken the next step towards the sale. Instead, they are left with frustration and no information.

Imagine if, while searching, Bob had encountered a listing that had actual images or video of a real vehicle in stock at a dealership. Or if Suzy had seen a video walkaround of the used vehicle that caught her eye. Maybe actual images and video of a specific new Mustang would have allayed Joe’s concerns of its condition and he would have reached out to the dealer to start the buying process.

Sadly, many dealers fall short of what is optimum – they have their DMS push out their inventory the instant it’s stocked and then distribute it to all of the touchpoints a consumer may visit. When a consumer finds that vehicle they are poorly served and presented with a VDP that has no description, images or video, and sometimes not even a price.

Most dealers recognize the impact that great image and video marketing can bring to their used vehicle inventory marketing. They know that the faster they get those images and video onto their VDPs, the faster they will see interest by consumers, and the faster vehicles will sell. The one thing that most of the automotive industry neglects, however, also happens to be the thing they have the most of: new cars. Perhaps dealers feel that there is no point taking pictures and video of each individual new vehicle as they are all the same at every dealer. The fact is that marketing your new vehicles may prove to be more important than marketing your used vehicles.

Including images and video of actual vehicles will make you stand out from your competitors in search results on the many consumer touchpoints.

Most dealers have 4-5 new cars for every single used car in inventory. Chances are that your competitor isn’t taking pictures or video of their new cars either. We all know the value SEO has in gaining new customers. By marketing your new vehicles with descriptions, images and video, you stand out from your competitors and increase your content within search engines by 4-5 times! This could easily help you dominate search engine results and every other touchpoint a consumer visits.

If you are not shooting photos and video of your new car inventory, you essentially have no marketing for the largest segment of your inventory. Start taking pictures and video of your new vehicles and you’ll achieve maximum exposure, which will lead to more leads and, ultimately, more sales.

Using Moneyball Strategies to Win the Content Marketing Game

by Tim James

In a recent article published on Marketing Land, an author used the famous concept of Moneyball and applied it to content marketing. If you aren’t familiar with the Moneyball concept, it began when Billy Beane became manager of the 2001 Oakland Athletics. Mr. Beane hypothesized that a team doesn’t necessarily need a superstar to win games. The key to winning in baseball is scoring. To score runs, a team must have players that can get on base. Rather than allocate millions of dollars (which the organization couldn’t afford) for superstar players, Mr. Beane used data and algorithms to identify players who may have been considered sub-par, but had high on-base percentages (i.e.: they could hit and get on base consistently). Using this strategy, he was able to put together a team that went on to win against stacked teams of superstars.

The author of the Marketing Land article went on to explain how successful content marketing paralleled the Moneyball strategy. Marketers shouldn’t be spending tons of money in an attempt to hit homeruns with one great viral video as their only piece of content. What they should be doing is building better “team members” by consistently creating high quality content of interest to its audience. In the automotive space, many dealers believe content creation is anchored in their inventory. While inventory is certainly the most important asset a dealer has, there are many other types of content that dealers can produce easily and with low expenditure.

Car buyers are seeking different types of information at different points in the buying cycle, whether that information is about a new vehicle, the reputation of a dealership, or if a used vehicle is a good value. Dealers that consistently produce a variety of high quality content have more opportunity to get on base. Using the analogy of Moneyball, think of a blog post or walkaround video as being “at bat”. The more times you’re up to bat, the more chances you have of getting on base with a consumer. Success in content marketing begins with eyeballs on your content. Peaking a customer’s interest enough to submit a lead gives you the opportunity to advance them around the bases. Dealers don’t need to hit homeruns to score. They simply need to get on base through a lead submission, phone inquiry or dealership visit. Get on base enough, and the runs (sales) will happen.

You cannot score runs, however, if you never try to hit the ball. Content marketing can be simple and affordable but it’s a long-term commitment to taking as many swings at the ball as possible that will yield the greatest return on investment. Instead of allocating large amounts of money in an attempt to hit homeruns, consider changing your focus to one of getting on base more often through the consistent creation of content. You never know which piece of content will produce the homerun for you but I guarantee that you’ll never hit one if you don’t swing the bat. The sooner you step up to the plate and start swinging, the sooner you will begin to see shoppers moving around the bases and your runs starting to increase.