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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?

What to Do with the 5 Must Have Types of Video Content

by Tim James

In my last blog, I shared the five types of video content you must have when beginning your video marketing initiative. To recap, they include: New Model Test Drive, Inventory, Value Proposition, Testimonials and Lead Follow-up.

Hopefully you’ve begun the process of creating this content. Now for the next step!

Effective video marketing requires much more than just content creation. In fact, if used strategically, video can be one of the most effective ways to steal your competitor’s business. However, if no strategy is involved, you will simply be wasting your time.

So, as promised, here are some strategies that can be used to make those videos effective and capture more business.

The keys to transforming your video CONTENT into a video marketing STRATEGY are:

  1. Exposure – If nobody ever sees your videos, they’re pretty useless. Consumers look at up to 24 different touch points in their buying journey. You have to ensure that your videos get on the right touch points to be seen by your buyers at the right time in the buying cycle and without them having to work to find it. The problem is that some of those touch points make it difficult for dealers to get videos onto these sites. Video files are extremely large and most touch points don’t want to host the video. In fact, they would prefer (some even require) that your videos are hosted elsewhere and then just hyperlinked or embedded on their site.

    That is why the right hosting platform is so important. It will automate a large portion of your exposure and make it very easy to integrate your video content with your Sales & Marketing strategies, getting more of your video content in front of your shoppers, at the most critical decision points, which brings me to my next point.

  1. Data Capture – The right hosting platform can be one of your biggest assets when it comes to video marketing. By having your videos all hosted together your hosting company can capture your viewer’s data from more touch points and then you can use that data to communicate with a shopper in real-time via the video. This data can also be utilized to generate real-time alerts via your CRM, no matter what video is being watched, and no matter what touch-point the video is being watched on. Which brings us to personalization.
  1. Personalization – How cool would this scenario be: You send a video email campaign out to your existing CRM database. The data from your existing customers (and all of your abandoned leads) that engage with that email is then captured and matched with your video viewer database from your video host. From then on you receive an alert in your CRM every time someone from your database is back “in market,” because they are watching one of your videos.

    Armed with this knowledge, you can then send personalized videos to that specific customer with various messages. Perhaps the customer has been consistently watching videos of Honda Civics in your inventory. Sending a video message informing them of special offers on Civics would certainly be relevant and give you the fast track to selling them a vehicle before they start shopping at your competition.

    However, there’s a fine line between personalization and creepy. So make sure that the video doesn’t necessarily inform the customer that you KNOW they’ve been shopping. The video message should be something relevant to the behaviors you have seen them make, without crossing that line.

  1. Tracking – Because you’re capturing this data and it’s being matched to buyers, you’ll get a notification that your buyer is watching one of your videos, along with which touch point that they are watching it on. Now you know that right at that second Joe Smith is on AutoTrader, Cars.com, or any other touchpoint out there, and what vehicle(s) videos they are viewing. Wouldn’t it seem like a good idea to call them at that point?
  1. Conquest/Geo-Targeting – This technology allows you to know which site they are viewing your video on and you can also see where (as in physical location) they are watching it. Imagine getting an alert that Joe Smith is watching your video and happens to be on your competitor’s lot at that exact moment. The right hosting company would enable you to know this information, call Joe and in addition queue up a “last chance offer” as a banner ad right there on the video they are watching… all in real-time!

A video marketing strategy isn’t just about the video. It’s a strategy that involves getting MORE of your videos on MORE touch points while capturing MORE data. Then utilizing that data to your advantage to know exactly how and where your customers are watching your videos. Then sending more personalized, relevant and perhaps even deal-saving messages to them in real-time.

There is nothing more powerful than to communicate with your customer exactly at the right time, with the right message, in a way that they know is just for them.

How to Maximize the SEO Value of Website Videos

Tim James, COO of Flick Fusion, shares tips on how to maximize the SEO value of your video content.

 

Flick Fusion Video Marketing is a pioneering video technology company, specializing in creating, managing, and distributing dynamic and cost-effective online and mobile video products on the world’s largest content delivery network. Each video is designed to help our clients reach and engage their customers with richer content and greater impact that results in increased sales and ROI. Data, photos, inventory, audio, music, and special offers are automatically combined to create compelling multimedia video solutions that are fast, easy, and affordable.

Win Business by Helping the Customer On Their Journey

In my last blog I discussed micro-moments – the critical moments, as defined by Google, in a customer’s car buying journey. I also covered the importance of having a strategy that caters to and attracts a customer’s attention at each touch point.

The 5 moments Google defines as important are: Which car is best? ; Is it right for me? ; Can I afford it? ; Where should I buy it? And, Am I getting a deal?  

In this blog, I’d like to share exactly which types of video you can create to cater to buyers at each of those critical moments. More importantly, I want to share the secret to “mastering the moments” using video content.

As you know, a successful marketing strategy isn’t about simply providing a car buyer with content, it is using the content that the car buyer is looking for to attract them into your sales funnel while moving them from stage to stage throughout the entire buying cycle. This is no different with Video Marketing.

One of the biggest mistakes I see dealerships make is to satisfy the consumer’s quest for a particular type of information (moment) in a video and then leave it up to the consumer to search and find the information that is now critical to the next moment.

The secret to “mastering the moments” is to make certain to provide the content (or quick access to the content) for the next “moments” at the same time you are satisfying the current moment. In this way, you make it easy for the shopper to move from one moment to the next, become a trusted source of information to the shopper and keep them in your sales funnel.

 

  1. Which car is best? – This phase is typically the beginning of any car buyer’s journey. The moment can be as quick as seeing a car they like and deciding they want it; to as long as knowing they need a new car, but having no idea which will work for them. Of course, consumers have many choices in vehicle brands and your objective at this point is to convince a shopper that your brand is the best decision for them.

    This moment is heavily dominated by OEM advertising, as brands compete for return and conquest buyers. Unfortunately, you aren’t just competing against other brands, you are competing against other dealerships that offer the same brands that you offer as well.  This means that you must provide the same (or similar) content as your OEMs so that you will attract the car buyers to your “path to the sale.”  To help the customer make that decision about “which car is best?” be sure to market your own Model Review and Model Comparison videos.This phase is also heavily influenced by the shopper’s peers and automotive experts, so Review Videos and video content containing “user experience” from “other shoppers” are great types of videos to market at this phase as well. Shoot a couple of quick videos of a new customer talking about their experience with a previous brand and why they chose you (your brand) this time, versus the brand they were driving.Most importantly, now that you’ve satisfied the shopper’s quest for information at this moment, make it easy for the shopper to move on to the next moments by having your “Is it right for me”; “Can I afford it”; “Where should I buy it”; and “Am I getting a good deal” content available at the same time and from the same location as your “Which car is best” content.  Another important trick at this time is to also ask the shopper if they would like a “personalized walkaround” of any particular Model, Trim, or a specific vehicle from your inventory.

 

  1. Is it right for me? – Now that a shopper is feeling confident about their direction after their research in the previous moment, they need to start looking at specific vehicle features to make certain that they match their wants and needs. You can easily move the shopper from the “Which car is best” moment to the “Is it right for me” moment by having New Model Test Drive, Trim Specific Features & Options, and VIN Specific Inventory Videos available for the shopper to watch at the same time they are watching their “Which car is best” video content.This is another great time to utilize the “Request a Personalized Walkaround” call to action, as mentioned above. It is at this moment that the shopper will start having some very real questions that only the dealership can answer.

 

  1. Can I afford it? – Now that you’ve moved the shopper through the “Is it right for me” moment and they can visualize themselves owning a particular vehicle, you can make it extremely easy to move the shopper to the “Can I afford it” moment by having content such as Rebates, Incentives, and Special Pricing dynamically display on each video that is relevant. Make certain that this content is able to update in real-time so that it can be continually updated without having to create new video content.You can include quick access conversion widgets on your videos such as Get Pre-Approved, Receive a Lease Quote, Value Your Trade, etc., so that the shopper doesn’t have to leave the video of the vehicle that they are interested in to go searching for their “Can I afford it” answers.  The easier you make the process for a shopper, the more shoppers will stay in your pipeline, trust you for their information, and will not have to venture off to go looking for the information they are seeking.

 

  1. Where should I buy it? – Now we get into more familiar video marketing territory. This stage is where “Why Buy from Us”; “Why Buy from Me”; and “Why Buy from Them (Testimonial) videos become extremely important. We know that people buy from people they like, and you have the ability at this moment to make a real emotional connection with a customer via video. Rather than simply being a website, or generic dealership, a good video can easily sway a customer into giving you the first crack at their business. Remember, this moment doesn’t necessarily start at the end of the buying cycle, the shopper is looking for someone to trust throughout the entire buying cycle.  Each of these videos should in fact be included for each moment, along with all of the previously mentioned videos.Again, don’t make the consumer think about what they want to do next and then have to go find the content. Have the content there and lead the consumer from moment to moment.Once the shopper does reach out to you with any question throughout the entire buying cycle, the use of Lead Response and Appointment Confirmation videos will have a huge impact on building that trust relationship with the shopper and satisfy the “Where should I buy it” moment  through the relationship that you’ve built.

 

  1. Am I getting a deal? – If a customer has followed your lead throughout their car buying journey, the answer to this question, while important, almost becomes insignificant. People are willing to pay more for a vehicle if they feel comfortable with the business, like their sales person, and have a great customer experience.If, at this stage, you have provided the shopper with an excellent experience; and you focus your efforts on reassuring a customer that you will continue to provide them with an excellent experience after their purchase; you should be able to win their business — even if a competitor is slightly less.That said, Google states in their study that 50% of shoppers with mobile while standing on a competitor’s lot. So, not only is it important to have your Inventory Videos (as well as Testimonial Value Proposition videos) on your VDP Pages. It is also important to have your competitor’s Geo-Targeted so that you can present a “last chance” offer to a shopper when they watch your videos from one of your competitor’s lots — and even receive an alert from your CRM if your video data is integrated with your CRM.

 

While not all-inclusive, this list should get you off to a good start as far as having content available that helps consumers answer the questions posed in these five moments. And this will help to position your dealership at the top of the food chain for their business.

A Primer on Video E-Mail Response

So, you’ve decided that you want to send video responses to internet leads, but you don’t quite know where to begin. Well, first, congratulations! You have made an excellent decision that will engage more of your customers, build rapport faster and elicit increased responses. Now to the nuts and bolts of how best to do this:

Technology – The simplest tool you need to create video is probably right in the palm of your hands. You may even be reading this blog on it, right this minute. I’m talking about your phone. These days, most smart phones have pretty impressive video capabilities. On the other hand, perhaps your dealership is willing to invest in a little dedicated video equipment. That is great as well. The biggest thing to understand is, regardless of whether you’re shooting video from your smartphone, or from an expensive camera, you need to ensure that you’re familiar with all of the settings that the camera offers and how to use them. Read your manual. And, In the case of an expensive camera, pay attention primarily to the Exposure Triangle (ISO, Aperture and shutter speed). Understanding these three features, and how to manipulate them, will help you produce great looking quality videos.

Deliverability – I am frequently asked about the best way to deliver videos to a customer via e-mail. Should the video be embedded in the e-mail or linked? Well, embedding a video inside an email sounds cool. But, “sounds cool” isn’t functional because only a few e-mail clients would actually play the embedded video. In addition, many spam filters flag e-mails that contain embedded video as spam. This means that most of your customers won’t even see them. A video is worthless if it doesn’t make it through spam filters. Because of this, your best option is to utilize a video landing page and insert a link to the video which is embedded in the landing page.

Creativity – Creativity is an important piece of any video marketing strategy. First, decide how you are going to utilize your video content. Are you going to build a library of stock video responses to send to leads? Or, are you going to personalize each one? Perhaps a combination of the two? Regardless of which strategy you choose, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. That being said, each one can be effective if it is implemented properly.  Here are some fundamentals that apply universally:

  • Use the word “VIDEO” in the subject line.
  • Use e-mail to support your phone call strategy, not replace it.
  • The focus (i.e. the call-to-action) of the video should be to get the customer to call you.
  • SMILE! There is nothing worse than seeing a video with an unhappy face.
  • Use a video landing page that contains the video you created for the customer along with additional supporting videos such as your dealership’s value proposition video, your salesperson’s introduction video and perhaps even some video customer testimonials. Sell the dealership. Sell yourself. And sell the car. All at the same time.

Hosting – One of the most important pieces of the puzzle for an effective video marketing strategy is where your video is “hosted.” All of your video content, including your video e-mails, should be hosted on the same platform so that you can track the viewing data of your shoppers across all touch-points and match that shopper with their history within your CRM. This also allows you to deliver “viewer specific” content to your shoppers based on their history and/or geo-location. Hosting videos on the same platform allows you to see if the prospect you sent the video email to watches another one of your videos on your website, cars.com, AutoTrader, Facebook Video pages, a blog, through another e-mail, etc.

Make certain that your video hosting platform knows what it is doing and can serve up real-time marketing/re-marketing content, or special offers, all based on rules that you can set, in order to return the best results. You can even geo-target your competitor’s lot. This means that if a specific shopper ends up visiting your competitor, but then decides to come back and watch your video e-mail just one more time (or any of your videos for that matter), you then receive a notice that they are on your competitor’s lot, while your video throws up a last chance offer to entice them over to you, before they buy elsewhere.

I hope this blog provides some useful data on the fundamentals of implementing an effective video marketing strategy. With the right tools and technology, you’ll find that it’s not that complicated at all.

Facebook Enhances Algorithm to Deliver More Video Content

by Brian Cox

Last year, Facebook changed its algorithm to favor video content in an effort to gain market share in the very popular video content market. In fact, it’s done such a good job that daily video views increased by 400 percent – a huge rise over its September, 2014 numbers of 1 billion per day,  to an incredible 4 billion per day. That’s a significant rise in less than a year.

Now, as a further enhancement, at the end of June, 2015, Facebook announced that it is again making tweaks to its algorithm so as to better identify the types of video content its users want. In the past, Facebook’s algorithm tracked the types of content that each individual user liked, and subsequently delivered more of that type of content. For example, users that interacted with photo content the most would be delivered more photo content. And the same for video. However, it always necessitated action on the part of the user. Whether that action materialized as a like, share or comment, Facebook’s algorithm noted that and factored that into the content type it delivered to that person.

In a recent blog article, Facebook shared, “There are many times people don’t want to like, comment on, or share a post, but this does not mean it wasn’t meaningful to them. In an effort to capture that meaningful content without actionable engagement, Facebook is now taking into account more interactions with videos that we have learned indicate whether someone found that video interesting, such as choosing to turn on sound, making the video full screen, and enabling high definition. So, if you turn the volume up, or make the video full screen, we have updated News Feed to infer you liked the video and will show you similar videos higher up in your News Feed. We have found that this helps us show people more videos that they are interested in.”

This comes on the heels of another significant algorithm change that was also made in June, 2015, whereby Facebook started to track how long a user lingered on a video in their Newsfeed. Facebook began using this as an indicator of relevance to that user and factored this in as an indication of interest.

From a video marketing perspective, this algorithm now enables auto dealers to see increased reach for their videos from consumers that watched them, but took no further action. Chances are, if a consumer is watching your video on Facebook – whether they are interacting with it or not – they are pretty low down the funnel. Facebook’s new algorithm will take note that they lingered on your video, interpret that as interest, and increase the priority as far as delivering similar content to that user.

Facebook knows that its popularity hinges on finding the right balance between satisfying its advertisers and delivering the types of content its users want to see. By continuing to tweak its algorithm, Facebook can more successfully deliver interesting and relevant content to individual users, providing a better overall customer experience and increased opportunities for video marketers to reach relevant consumers.

 

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.