dealerships

[Video] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 1: Which Car Is Best

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.

Consumers Like Video So Much They’re Paying More To Watch It

by Tim James

Video, and especially mobile video, is fast becoming the media of choice for consumers of all ages. From the cable-free movie, to online streaming services, to the latest and greatest phone apps storming the scene, we are all consuming data at a record pace. According to a white paper by Cisco, mobile data has increased in size nearly 30 times since the year 2000. And mobile video accounts for 55 percent of all data traffic.

Today, consumers are increasing data plans with their cellular phone companies so as to consume more video – and they’re doing so willingly — according to a recent article on Mashable. The article reports the massive growth of the mobile live-streaming app, Meerkat. With Twitter entering the live-streaming market Monday via their recent acquisition of Periscope, smartphone users are finding more ways to share video with each other than ever before. In fact, in less than 24 hours, Periscope broke into the top 50 apps on the iTunes app store illustrating the remarkable demand for video content. And, according to the article, “wireless carriers have invested more the $1 trillion in the last few years to build out networks capable of serving massive amounts of data and high speeds.”

And as far as video itself — Almost every major social media application has integrated video into their platforms. Why? Because that’s what their users want. Videos are given more organic reach on Facebook. Platforms are opening up their APIs to allow for video embedding. User-generated video content is exploding. And consumers have made it very clear that they like video content so much that they are willing to increase their cellular phone budgets so as to consume more of it. If this is the case, then why not market to them in their format of choice?

Back in the day, most people read physical newspapers and watched local television… and that’s where car dealers advertised. For lack of subscribers, newspapers moved online, or went out of business. And then, as streaming video services became a more popular (and less expensive) alternative, people started ditching cable.

None of us knows what the future will bring. Change will come, but we don’t know what or when. All we do know for certain is that right now… video is where consumers have placed their attention. And not just video, but especially in mobile format. If only for that single reason, that’s the content car dealers should be producing. Take a look at your marketing and see how you can improve on your video content. It would also be wise to ensure that your web content and any video is mobile ready, so this new generation of consumers can access and even share your content.

Marketing Trends Illustrate the Importance of Video

by Tim James

If you still aren’t sold on the importance of video marketing, it only takes a brief glimpse into recent news to illustrate just how important video is in marketing. There are many news stories relating to acquisitions, statistics and trends, which highlight the increasing importance – and value – that platforms of all kinds are placing on video content. The common thread that exists throughout all of these stories is companies recognize consumers have a strong desire to view video content and are positioning themselves to be able to serve that up.

Consider these recent stories:

  • Facebook videos are now receiving 3 BILLION views per day. Facebook is all about relevance. It wants to serve up content that its users want to see. A recent report by social media company, SocialBakers, reported that video posts surpassed all other types of content with the highest organic reach as well as highest fan reach. In addition, Facebook gives videos that are directly uploaded to their site more organic reach than videos shared via link from YouTube. This is in an effort to boost its own video platform. Facebook has even begun to solicit celebrities and large media companies to upload their videos straight to Facebook, rather than YouTube or other platforms.
  • Twitter recently renewed its agreement with Google to allow access to Twitter’s data stream. Since their breakup in 2011, Google has had to scrape Twitter in order to serve up tweets in search results. With this new agreement in place, Google can now index Twitter content in real-time providing more SEO benefits for Twitter content. Seeing as Twitter recently added a feature allowing video tweets, it’s entirely possible that Google could serve up your tweeted videos in real-time search results.
  • Last November, in order to deliver better video ads across its many properties, Yahoo acquired BrightRoll, a video ad delivery platform, for $640 million. One month later, they acquired Evntlive and Ptch, both of which cater to the video content industry and, according to many sources, made them the largest video platform in the United States.
  • Even AOL has been bolstering its video capabilities with the acquisition of three video marketing companies in the past 5 years –the 5Min video platform for $65 million in 2010, Adap.tv for $405 million in 2013 and, most recently, Vidible in December, for an estimated $50 million.
  • There has also been a plethora of video sharing apps emerging in the last few years such as Vine – which ultimately partnered with Twitter – and Instagram, which added a video sharing feature and was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion.
  • And last, but far from least, we have the largest player of them all – Google – which acquired YouTube way back in 2006, and has grown it into the second largest search engine in the world. It is currently racing Apple to become the first company to be valued at $1 trillion.

This is just a small sample of the investments major companies are making in video. It shows the importance successful businesses are placing on video content. And, I would say, a strong belief that video content is the future. I highly doubt anyone could argue against the fact that these companies know what they’re doing, simply based on their combined net value of $1.3 trillion. If all these companies were joined into one country, this humungous sum of money would place it at number 16 out of all 194 countries in the world.

I’d say they know what they’re doing.

Winning Is Knowing The Rules Better Than Your Competitor

by Brian Cox

On January 11, the New England Patriots faced the Baltimore Ravens in a contest that would dictate which team moved onto the AFC Championship game. Going into the game as heavy favorites to win, the Patriots quickly found themselves losing the game 14-0 quickly. Undeterred, they powered through trading touchdowns with the Ravens for the remainder of the game to ultimately win. The real story that comes out of this win, however, is how the Patriots reached into their bag ‘o tricks to achieve what they had come to – win.

Several players on the Ravens were quoted as follows in an article in the Boston Globe

“They pulled out every trick play in the book” – Chris Canty, Ravens defensive end.

“They couldn’t just drive the ball down on us regular. They had to do something tricky.” – Ladarius Webb, Ravens cornerback.

“You’ve seen one gimmick, you’ve seen them all.” — Terrell Suggs, Ravens linebacker.

And the most profound…

“It’s not something that anybody’s ever done before.” – John Harbaugh, Ravens head coach.

John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens were not just upset that they had lost, but that they had done so because of what they deemed trickery on the part of the Patriots. Their anger, however, was misdirected as the Patriots did nothing wrong, according to the NFL rules.

New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, summed it up best in his reply to their criticisms when he said, “Maybe those guys got to study the rule book and figure it out? We obviously knew what we were doing.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did. Any other team in the NFL could have pulled off the plays and formations that the Patriots did which helped them win that game – but nobody ever had. By knowing the rules and using them to his team’s advantage, he was able to throw unexpected plays and confuse his opponents enough to win. On the other side of the field, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, was complaining about the rules and how the Patriots won. He was so incensed during the game that he even, literally, cried foul (and got one) when he ran onto the field to argue with officials.

Being successful in business and marketing is no different. Dealerships have so many rules placed on them by so many different regulating bodies, it’s surprising that they can say anything more than “Here is our car. You should buy it.” To win in the automotive industry, you have to be a leader.

Business leaders are creative. They find ways to innovate and do things that their competitors aren’t. They know the rules of the game backwards and forwards. They find strategies and incorporate plays that nobody else does, and then use them to win. Whether that’s winning a new customer, a star employee or simply sales volume, they have thought about all scenarios and crafted strategies to achieve them. There are plenty of books that tell you how to be a successful leader, run a successful business, have success in marketing and hire superstars. Every business has access to those resources. Success lies in not only knowing the rules but in knowing the rules so well that, when you pull out that trick play, your competition doesn’t know what hit them.

Why “Just Do It” Is A Waste Of Time

by Tim James

In this high tech age, there are numerous tasks that an Internet or eCommerce Director has to tackle in order to correctly market their dealership and its inventory. In the past, you were doing a great job if you were writing custom detailed vehicle descriptions and taking multiple photos of your pre-owned vehicles. You were a superstar if you were also doing these things for your new vehicles. Then video entered the picture. Some dealers embraced video and used data feeds to syndicate video, vehicle descriptions and photos to their website and other third-party sites. Forward thinkers also uploaded the videos with proper tags and descriptions to YouTube.

However, with the fast pace of advancing technology, the number of consumer touch-points keeps growing and it has become an almost overwhelming task to keep up and still try to sell cars.

But one thing hasn’t changed, the key to a successful marketing strategy is getting the right content, in front of the right shopper, on the right touch-point, and at the right time of the buying cycle. The more exposure you get for your content, the more impact that content is going to have on your sales. Content that’s not seen is worthless.

I remember a story from not too long ago about one of the largest volume dealers in the world. This dealer was manually uploading their inventory to their website and every third party website for over 10 stores – one by one – daily. They chose to pay someone $100+ per DAY, rather than use automation and data distribution technology to accomplish the same task at a cost of just $150 per MONTH.

I’m starting to see a lot of this same mentality today with video. Many dealerships have gone out and purchased some great video production tools, and are doing a great job producing some very good video content. They are then manually uploading their content to YouTube and manually embedding links on as many touch-points as they have the time and ability to do so (not all touch-points allow a manual upload). They would rather invest hours of their time to manually place their content on fewer touch-points, than use automation and data distribution technology to accomplish the same task (with more touch-points) for just a couple hundred dollars a month.

I believe that many dealers, managers and Internet directors understand the importance of having their dealership and inventory positioned properly and in as many places online as possible. The problem I see is two-fold: They either don’t understand that technology exists that could transform their Internet marketing and sales without putting an undue burden on their staff. Or they don’t believe that the investment in this technology will produce results.

I can guarantee you this. If you’re simply doing it for the sake of doing it, you’re wasting your time. If nobody sees the content you create, it might as well not exist. The fact is video is “content,” just like any of the other “content” that you utilize to market your dealership and inventory. You don’t spend your day manually cutting and pasting your other content on multiple touch-points all day long — manually uploading photos, and manually writing vehicle descriptions over and over. Why on earth would you try to manually manage your video syndication when producing the content can be time consuming enough.

If you focus your efforts on ensuring that you have great video content, and then utilize technology to get that content on as many of the sites consumers view in the car buying process as possible, then you will be significantly more likely to have the right content, on the right touch-point, in front of the right consumer, at the right time of the buying cycle. This is the only thing that’s going to engage more shoppers and increase sales.

Nike’s old slogan of “Just Do It” needs to be revised when applied to successful marketing strategies today to “Just Do It Right.”

Don’t Get Distracted by Gadgets and Gizmos: Master the Basics to Succeed

by Brian Cox

For years, dealers have been inundated with technology. Salespeople from every vendor in the automotive space are continuously calling to present the latest and greatest product that is going to supercharge your sales. Great salespeople can convince a dealer or general manager to try products. Some of these products are excellent and could actually help … if you understand how to use them to their full potential.

There are some dealers that have both the time and expertise to devote to learning and using technology. But, sadly, that’s not realistic for many dealerships. To the vendors presenting their products, it may seem easy. However, if the product or service isn’t used to its full capabilities, chances are good that a dealer doesn’t stay a client very long.

If you are one of the rare dealerships or auto groups that has a tech-savvy employee who understands the products and services, and also has the time to use and implement them, you are ahead of the game. If, however, you aren’t in a position to hire or give someone these responsibilities, chances are that all of the gadgets and gizmos that sound wonderful will end up collecting dust. In any profession, continuous practice in the basics of your profession can assist you in growing and developing more advanced techniques.

As a dealership, there are certain basic services that are necessary. You need a DMS and CRM to track customers, vehicles and transactions. You also need a website that consumers can visit and gain information from. And, in order to capture the attention of online car shoppers, you must have the ability to distribute your inventory to your website and all your third-party sites, in a way that provides maximum exposure and appeal.

Technology continues to develop at the speed of light and is almost impossible to keep up with. It’s really not that long ago that many dealers did not see the need for a website, let along photo and video descriptions and a digital marketing strategy! However, the fact is that over time, the early adopters had a huge advantage over those who didn’t use technology to create exposure for their dealership and inventory.

The bottom line is there are a HUGE amount of gadgets, gizmos, who’s-its and what’s its available to help enhance your presence with today’s vehicle shoppers, both on and offline. It can be overwhelming to know where to start, and what’s important. If you want to do it yourself and don’t have the budget to hire someone internally, or an outside resource, take a step back and think about learning, practicing and mastering the basics before graduating to more advanced technologies. Otherwise you just may find yourself in a cave surrounded by thingamabobs wondering what they do!

Why Video Is Important For Your Marketing Strategy

by Brian Cox

When businesses ponder how to increase their presence on search engines, they typically turn to SEO strategies. Content marketing has always been a large part of any SEO strategy. It’s a given that the more fresh, relevant and unique content you produce, the better chance your online properties will have of showing in search engine results. According to an article by Search Engine Land, in the past, when considering an SEO plan, the primary type of content marketers thought of was text. As consumer behavior changes, however, visual content is becoming increasingly important.

According to the article, a Google study that tracked consumers’ points of influence on their path to purchase, found that 64 percent of consumers were influenced by video they saw on YouTube – 2/3 of which were “how-to” and “product visualization” type video. These videos match the content type that auto dealers use. In fact, according to the study, 60 percent of consumers reported that online digital marketing factored into their path to purchase. And a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that experts are now advising marketers to move 10% to 25% of TV ad dollars to online video.

Today’s vehicle shoppers have many decisions to make along the path to purchase. A consumer who visits an online shopping portal will typically be presented with a list of vehicles that meet their criteria in order of price, lowest to highest. They will then start filtering out vehicles from those results based on such things as mileage, condition, vehicle descriptions and pictures and video provided by the dealer. Vehicles with no (or poor) descriptions or ones that lack photos and video have a greater likelihood of being passed over. Vehicle description pages that contain rich details including images and video stand a far greater chance at seeing customer engagement. It’s hard to believe that anyone would disagree with this very basic assessment.

The same idea translates to search engine optimization. The goal, obviously, in any search engine optimization strategy is to be found whenever a consumer makes a relevant search. According to Search Engine Land, however, that’s not what the real goal is (or should be). Simply showing up does nothing except satisfy a marketer or SEO practitioner’s ego. The true goal is click-through-rate. The more opportunities you can provide a customer who is searching for a vehicle to find your dealership and/or vehicle (i.e. the more times you appear within a given search), the greater the likelihood will be that they will click on a link to your content versus your competition. To accomplish this, you must have a presence on all the consumer touchpoints in every medium possible – video, images and text – thereby offering more content for a search engine to crawl and deliver within the results.

The bottom line is that consumers are using more resources than ever before when shopping for a vehicle. Ensuring that the type of content a consumer wants to see is present on every touchpoint is essential to increase web traffic and consumer engagement. Don’t get me wrong, simply throwing money into video marketing is not what I advise. You would be wise to invest in a comprehensive video strategy that maximizes the exposure, quality and effectiveness of your video content. It will make the difference and allow you to dominate all of your online marketing channels.