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Do Stitched Photo Videos Provide Value, or are they Outdated Technology?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

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!

Islands in the Stream, that is What We Are

Live video is taking over. If you have been on social media anytime lately, you probably noticed the barrage of streaming Facebook Live videos. In addition, videoconferencing has replaced boring teleconferences on just about every major platform. Why? Because, while we supposedly live in a super connected world, people are, in fact, less connected than ever. We communicate via text in short sound bites that are constantly misinterpreted. Emails are frequently misunderstood and social communications via platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are often incorrectly perceived.  This is because the majority of human communication occurs through visual cues such as body language, tone of voice and facial expressions… and you cannot see any of these through text or email.

Why the rise in live streaming with telecommunication companies and social media platforms? Because it’s engaging. Video, in itself, is engaging. But add in another dimension where it is not pre-recorded, but live, and conversations occur in real-time. It takes video to the next level as a communications tool.

If you think this is not already happening, let me tell you, it is. And it could be creating problems for your dealership if it’s happening on a salesperson’s personal Facebook profile or on a Facebook page they created to represent the dealership. First, if it’s happening on the salesperson’s personal profile or a Facebook page they created, there is truly no dealership connection, record of the conversation or ability for oversight. Second, when salespeople are representing the dealership, those conversations with customers belong to the dealership, not the salesperson. What happens if the salesperson says the wrong thing – even innocently?

Now don’t misunderstand my point here as live streaming video is an excellent way to engage customers. The customer can talk to a salesperson as if they were on your lot. The salesperson can walk out to the vehicle the customer is interested in, do a walkaround and interact with the customer live while answering their questions and showing them features they are interested in. It’s like taking a phone call to another level. Live streaming will certainly grow in used, just as video-conferencing has. If you are not doing so already, you would be wise to investigate solutions that allow these types of engagement between consumers and your dealerships in a way that’s measurable, and controllable, while enabling customers to communicate in the way they prefer and find the most productive.

Here are 62 statistics about live-streaming that are important to know. This blog would be a book if I went into all of them, but the key point is that live-streaming is quickly becoming the medium of choice for consumers for brand interaction.

In our era of smartphones with built in Facetime and Google Hangouts, consumers are utilizing real-time live streaming to connect with their loved ones and friends because it’s more intimate and personal. And that is spreading to the retail world. Consumers can gain a more intimate and personal connection with your dealership in the same communication manner. Whether it’s from a one-way video call (the customer can only see the salesperson) or a two-way video call (both can see each other), they are equally effective.

People want to deal with people. This is easy to do via live-streaming, right from the comfort of their home. Salespeople have a much better opportunity to build rapport and trust and help the customer while telling the car’s story. They can show customers what they want to see – all in real-time.

Oh, and just a quick note in closing, as I don’t want to make you work too hard — for those of you too young to remember the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers song “Islands in the Stream,” the title is a word play on the title of that song – stream – streaming video – get it?

With shoppers flooding the streams of video, your dealership needs to be the island they can rely on for great content, a personal connection and to get exactly what they want in the format they choose to engage.

3 Tips to Up Your Video Marketing Game

Assuming your dealership has a video marketing strategy in place and that you’re getting good results, you may be ready to take your video marketing to another level.

To quickly review, the fundamental basic blocks of a video marketing strategy include:

  • Content. Start with what you sell…your inventory.  Next sell them on your dealership with value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos, and service “how to” videos.   Also, sell them on your staff with personnel introduction/profile videos.  All of these content videos build trust with the shopper.
  • Exposure. In addition to your website, your videos should be on multiple touchpoints like Cars.com, Autotrader.com, Facebook, and any other distribution points video is accepted to display. Also using video in email marketing and in the lead follow-up process garners great results when compared to traditional e-mail and phone calls.
  • Actionable Data Collection. Where you host your video plays a very important role in the success of a video marketing strategy. Using public hosting platforms like YouTube and Vimeo do not help your SEO nor guarantee to keep your shopper on your site. Your dealership’s video should be hosted on a platform that allows your website to claim the SEO benefits of your video, and also has the ability to collect actionable data from your video viewers so you know who’s watching which video from where and with what.
  • Data Utilization. Use the actionable data to create relevancy, to create or adjust your marketing endeavors so you are able to serve up the right video to the right customer at the right time.

Now that we have reviewed the core elements to a successful video marketing strategy, let’s take a look at kicking it up a notch.

Here are some additional elements to add to your strategy designed to even further increase your engagement, conversions and leads.

Empower Your Customers with Information
Today’s consumers want to be in control of the purchase process. Videos can have a significant impact in that process, with up to 90 percent of people claiming that video plays a role in their purchasing decisions, according to one report.

Although customers want to be in control, they still need information and a trusted resource to guide their decision. Why not become that trusted resource?

When it comes to car shopping, most dealers don’t have a lot of information on their website to help prospective buyers in their research and decision-making process. Why leave that up to the OEMs and third-party sites?

Part of this process involves deciding where to buy. Customers want to buy from a dealership they trust. One of the best ways to gain that trust is to provide the car shopper with information in a transparent way.

If you don’t already have a video showroom on your website, it’s time to add one. Then, create and add the following types of videos:

  • Explain the difference between your brand’s trim levels
  • Explain the difference between your brand and your top two competing brands
  • Explain new features in a newly introduced product/brand
  • Explain the sales process/what to expect at your dealership
  • Explain the F&I process and products

These videos should focus on educating the shopper. Their purpose is to gain customer trust, so the videos should be focused on your customers’ needs and your dealership’s expertise.

Virtual Reality Video
Virtual Reality (VR) is already mainstream. The good news for dealers is that creating VR videos doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or time. You can create VR videos in approximately the same amount of time as you can a regular video.

VR videos are highly engaging and will differentiate your brand, at least until the rest of the Jones’s on the block catch up. If you want a captive audience, start by creating and posting a few model review videos on your website in VR first as these will be more relevant longer then an inventory specific video.  To get even more engagement you can then distribute them through email and your social media channels.

Watching a VR video is a completely different experience than watching a regular video; if you haven’t tried it yet, you should! The experience is completely immersive, memorable and emotional.

You don’t have to start doing VR videos for every piece of inventory. Focus on creating a VR video for your new models and make them both educational and fun, if possible. As the customer is sitting in the front seat, guide them through what they’re seeing, touching and feeling.

Consumers can experience VR videos if they own a smartphone and a pair of VR goggles or headsets. All that’s required is downloading an app that can play virtual reality videos.

Live Streaming Video
Today’s consumer demands instant information and transparency during the car-buying process, and live-streaming video calls are a great way to establish a connection, build trust and provide information in an immediate and transparent manner.

Live streaming is another technology that you may want to consider incorporating into your sales process. Allow your shoppers to connect in real-time with your team.  It’s not just Millennials that want their information now…Boomers do too!

Are you ready to take your video marketing game to the next level? Try these three video strategies designed to engage customers and increase conversions and leads.