digital

Why Face-to-Face Conversations are More Important than Ever

By Timmy James

 

By nature, humans are social creatures. Need more proof? One of the worst punishments our legal system has come up with is solitary confinement. Not only is this dreaded by inmates, but it can also affect their mental health. Whether an introvert or an extrovert, we all crave personal interaction.

Like many of you, I am currently working from home. And, at the end of one day last week I had an impromptu meeting with one of my customers. The meeting started on the phone but, after 15-20 minutes of the call, we decided to switch to a live-stream one-on-one video call. While we continued talking about the business matter, the conversation quickly changed into a personal chat. Just two people who have been working from home for many days now. While we both interact with people throughout the day, most interaction is via the phone or text. When we switched to the live-streaming video call, emotions changed into joy and excitement that we were having a personal, live, face-to-face interaction with an individual outside of our homes.

Even before this health crisis, people wanted to have live interaction. That’s exactly why sales managers are renowned for telling salespeople to “Just get them in.” Of course, at the moment, we have a quandary. Many salespeople are out of work, CRMs are still spitting out the same messages and consumers are still shopping for vehicles… but nobody is answering them.

We’re dealing with a situation unlike anything seen since the measles or polio breakouts decades ago. The entire country is hunkered down, sitting at home with their families. And many are very bored. What do people do when they are bored? They tend to accomplish tasks they’ve been meaning to but have not yet found the time for. And guess what? This could very easily include researching a vehicle purchase. 33 states have either halted or limited vehicle sales forcing salespeople to stay at home. However, in many cases, their CRMs are still receiving leads. OEMs are offering aggressive incentives and interest rates are low.

Car sales are all about emotions. That’s why the standard has always been to get the customer to test drive, kick tires, breathe in that “new car” smell and take mental ownership. However, before any of that can happen, a salesperson or BDC agent needs to create rapport to get that specific customer to choose their dealership.

Customers currently don’t have the luxury of visiting the dealership. But you can approach that level of face-to-face contact with live video chat. It builds the rapport needed for the customer to decide who to buy from and what to buy. Your dealership can interact with these customers in a personal way while building that emotional relationship with the salesperson, the dealership AND the vehicle. And what do those interactions produce when doing this via live-streaming video calls? The same as it produced for me and my customer — Joy and excitement. It helps move that customer down the line to the sale.

Many dealerships are experimenting with virtual test drives and video calling to provide that in-store face-to-face experience right now and having amazing success. But like all sales processes, it must be done right to have the most effective impact. Many of the popular video calling platforms out there require both users to install plugins or download the same apps to assure cross-platform and cross-operating system compatibility. These platforms are great for organized meetings, entertainment, or educational purposes. But when you need to engage a customer or a lead from your website, or for email/texting communications, the best video calling technology to utilize is one that allows a “one-click” audio and video communication to work inside web pages through direct peer-to-peer communication. This eliminates the necessity to install plugins or download apps and ensures an instant video connection; no matter what device or platform the customer or lead is utilizing.  This could alter the entire experience completely and make the difference between a GREAT video experience, and no communication or experience at all (another lost lead).

So, consider using live video chat to have that face-to-face interaction with your customers that is very much desired, especially right now. Combined with good storytelling through strategic vehicle and dealership marketing videos, it could easily slingshot your dealership into a consumer’s first choice. Not just in these times when it is even more crucial to communicate this way, but also when everything goes back to normal. And now is the time to start planning for the future. You don’t want your competition to beat you and take your customers away!  Get that competitive edge and create those loyal customers now!

3 Video Marketing Applications for a More Profitable New Year

By Tim James

Video has historically played a major role in car dealerships; from training with VHS tapes, to video messaging, text and Live Video Calling. As 2019 draws to a close and we approach 2020, it is clear that when it comes to consumer engagement and digital marketing, video is center stage.

There are many video marketing statistics and trends floating around currently. It is easy to get lost and it can seem a daunting task to stay head of the trends. In this short blog I have put together 3 practical ways to successfully incorporate video into your 2020 marketing strategy.

Communication

Why struggle wondering if your emails are opened and read? According to multiple reports an engaged audience will drop what they are doing to watch a video. In fact, email open rates increase by 7% if you include the word “Video” in the title.

Focus on quality! I always hear people saying, “keep your video short”. The fact is you should put your stopwatch away and focus on delivering high-quality information in an upbeat and emotional presentation. Too often people try to rush their presentation and simply don’t provide an educational or emotional presentation.

Nothing will lead to someone closing your video sooner than if you sound like you are just trying to rush through it, versus truly trying to assist them. If you are providing a great experience in your video message, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  Yep…someone stops watching.  But what about all of those who are truly interested in your message? If you are providing good (relevant) information, and delivering it in an emotional manner, the numbers show that a significantly high percentage of your email (and text) recipients will watch 100% of your video message.

Another good statistic to know is that adding video to your emails can increase click rates by 300%.

Vehicle shoppers appreciate the informational and emotional value of video. Live video calls and video chat are effective at increasing engagement and convert more website traffic to lot traffic as shoppers can now talk to one of your professionals “live,” from wherever they may be.

This does wonders for customer experience by offering a truly unique perspective of transparency. Consumers don’t need to wonder about availability if they can see the vehicle in a video behind you in real-time.

Website Conversion

Users spend 88% more time browsing a website if it has video. Video content humanizes your dealership, builds trust, and inspires higher funnel shoppers to actually pick up the phone and call you with their questions. Video on your landing page or VDP will increase conversion by 80%.

Inventory videos transfer more information. In addition, they help your VDP pages create more emotion from potential car buyers, much more than pictures and text alone. Website videos increase organic search traffic by 157%. You are then far more likely to appear on Google’s page one, driving more online shoppers to your website and into your sales funnel.

Social

For all social platforms , video has 12 times more shares than text and image alone and engagement is 13.9% higher if your posts include video.  How long should your videos be on social media? 30 to 90 seconds is the ideal length for social video marketing. But again, remember that this is because the viewers aren’t there just for your video.  They are socializing and have a short attention span (oh look, a squirrel). But you still don’t want to sacrifice quality for time.  The quality of your content always comes first.

What about the future? 360 degree interactive presentations and Augmented Reality are predicted to be areas with the most growth as marketers enjoy the ease of creating this type of content and it is becoming less expensive.

If your dealership isn’t using video in its vehicle merchandising or customer interactions, you could be missing out on opportunities. Let the consumer experience your inventory they way they want to experience it.  If you limit their options, you will also be limiting your leads.  It’s all about selling more cars and increasing service revenue. Video can help any dealership accomplish both with very little time, effort and cost.

If you don’t believe me, give it a try. I promise you will see the results and will continue to use video marketing at every possible customer interaction opportunity.

Video is Everywhere!

There are a huge number of travelers on domestic flights each year. Southwest Airlines, not unlike others, offers these passengers paid wi-fi, but, more importantly, in-flight entertainment. The standard of that entertainment has changed immensely over the years. In the not too distant past, flight attendants collected discarded newspapers and magazines and offered them up to the next group of fliers for ‘entertainment.’

Today is vastly different due to the mediums now available and advances in technology which has effectively changed people’s desires. Take a look at this image.

It is a current pamphlet in every Southwest Airlines seatback notifying passengers that there is “in-flight entertainment.”

Let’s do a quick dive into these. Five types of “free” entertainment are promoted– movies, on-demand TV, messaging, live TV and music. How many of these are video-related items? 3 out of the 5!

Guess what folks? Airlines have chosen video as the preferred method of entertainment. I bet that there were focus-groups galore before they decided what amenities they wanted to adopt and market. You better believe they did that before adopting the technology along with the related expenses!

Of course, some passengers bring their own newspapers and magazines (because the airlines don’t offer them anymore, except for their own in-flight magazines). Passengers also bring digital reading material and… surprise… iPads with movies (hint: videos)!

There are many things these days that can be used to entertain people while stuck in a giant tube 15,000 feet in the air –all looking for things to … God help me… pass the time. Personally, I prefer to sit in the first-row isle seat — I like to be the first one OFF the plane, rest my cowboy hat on my knee, and…watch movies that I’ve downloaded specifically for the flight.

If you are hesitant or uncertain about the impact video can have on your customers, just be observant on your next airplane ride and see what the majority of people are doing to pass the time… I would bet I know the answer.

If you ever travel with a cowboy hat, rest it crown up on the seat back tray to avoid any damage. Be sure to thank the flight attendants and, once you see that everyone is watching some sort of video content, take a break from any in-flight entertainment you may be enjoying, and look out the window once in a while. The Grand Canyon looks awesome from high in the air. The World is an amazing place to see!

In Video Marketing, the Car Should Be the Star

Video marketing is becoming more important as consumers increasingly choose this medium over others. That’s exactly why almost every platform has shifted to a video-centric algorithm.

I’ve spoken many times about the types of video a dealership should produce outside of inventory videos to create an emotional connection to your brand, dealership and employees. However, there is one thing I have touched on in the past that needs more attention. It is, in fact, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give:

The car should always be the star!

What do I mean by that? Regardless of the type of video you produce, the sole focus of each is fundamentally to excite and persuade a potential customer to choose your dealership and come in to buy a vehicle. But what about personalized walkaround videos, personal e-mail responses, why buy videos, or customer testimonials?

If you’re creating video content for your dealership and only take one piece of advice from me, let it be this: Make sure that the brand you represent, and/or the vehicle you are trying to sell, is visible in every video.

It’s great to send a personalized video email response to a customer. It’s certainly engaging and puts a face behind the name. But, while the personal video e-mail response will do that, the customer ultimately is considering purchasing something you sell.

Imagine how much more powerful a personalized video response would be if, instead of filming in front a background consisting of a white wall or other desks, it was filmed in front of the exact vehicle the customer inquired about. I’m not talking about a walkaround. Simply a little product placement.  There’s a reason major brands pay big money for product placement in movies, television shows and video games. That’s because it pays off! That Pepsi can that the actor is drinking out of may never be mentioned or referred to — but I can guarantee you one thing… it was noticed.

Make sure that, when making a personal video response, why buy video, or while filming a customer testimonial, the background contains either a vehicle that you sell, the specific one the customer is interested in, or the vehicle they already purchased.

Video content is evergreen in that it doesn’t expire. It can float around the digital universe for an eternity if you want it to. Ensure that as many videos as possible promote not only your store and employees, but also the vehicles that you sell. You never know when someone will come across it and be impacted by it.

Many times, those accidental or unintended video views lead to relationships that span a lifetime. Make sure every piece of video content displays your vehicles – even if that’s not the video’s intent – and you’ll take your engagement and connection to the next level.

Body Language Is Important…But Even More So In Digital Marketing

Interpreting meaning through communication can be hard.

For example, the simple statement “Fine.”

What does that word really mean? Ultimately, it depends on the context and, more importantly, how it’s said and the body language which happens in that exact moment.

When your significant other says “fine,” you darn well better know what it means, or you can be in a whole world of trouble! Or, if you tell a teenager they must clean their room before they can go out with friends, play video games or whatever they want, there are many ways fine” can be expressed. If they say it loudly while slamming the door in your face, that has a much different meaning than if they say it in a low submissive but agreeable way.

Humans are masters of perception. We all communicate, and that communication comes across in different ways be it vocal, physical, or via some activity.

But what does all this mean as far as your dealership and communicating with your customers?

As marketers, with all the data available to us today, we can better interpret customer interactions and more effectively communicate with them than ever before.

An argument could be made that a customer’s digital activity can tell us more about their intent than a face-to-face conversation. Ultimately, the digital footprints a customer leaves throughout their car buying journey are, in fact, a conversation. You may not be able to see the customer, but they express their intent through their online activities.

That customer looking at your website and bouncing through your entire used car inventory, who also jumped around on third-party listing sites, is much higher in the sales funnel. They are having a conversation with you. Something along the lines of, “I’m in the market for a car but I don’t know what I want.”

A customer visiting your website, viewing every Honda Civic in stock, is not only telling you they want a Honda Civic but, if you want to get granular, also which trim level, price range and mileage restrictions they value.

Whatever they spend the most time viewing is probably the best fit for what they are searching for. An unlimited amount of data is out there to help you identify, define and motivate customers. You must just take the time to look at it.

Now that you know the customer’s intent, where they are in the funnel and what they are interested in, what’s the best way to communicate with them?

VIDEO!

While you have the secret-agent advantage of all this relevant data showing the customer’s intent, the customer still wants good old face-to-face interaction when it comes down to the sales process. Simply sending a templated email accomplishes nothing. It’s not personal, is not directed to them, fails to really interact on an emotional level, and usually has little relevance.

Of course, you “could” take the creepy road and tell them everything you know about them but that would likely be counterproductive.

The best way to engage a customer is through a personalized video response. They can see you, hear you and read your body language. If you’re sincere, friendly and engaging, and use the data you have about the customer’s digital journey to craft a personal response, the customer will be able to relate; rapport will be established infinitely better than any “Buy from us because we love you” e-mail template.

Don’t be afraid to send video email responses to your customers. Most of your competitors simply send those canned templates from their CRM with ZERO impact – if they even make it through the customer’s spam filter.

Make an impression and win business using technology that allows you to interact with customers the same way business has been won for decades… in person. With video you can now interact in person, without the customer even being in your showroom.

The statistics show that customers respond to video. They can read your personality and intentions more clearly via video than a written communication, because emotions are more clearly illustrated. And, more importantly, as a result they will connect with you better and choose your dealership to buy or service their car. Then everything will be just “fine!”

Winning the Marketing Game Is About Being Consistent

by Tim James

Baseball players are famous for their superstitions and rituals when performing. Some will refuse to shave. Some will wear their hat backwards. Some will wear the same pair of underwear every game. Do they know if those superstitions or rituals affected the outcome of the game? No. Does it matter? No. Why? Because the players are doing the same thing, in every game, the same way, every time. When asked if he had any superstitions, legendary baseball player Babe Ruth replied, “Whenever I hit a home run, I make sure that I touch all four bases.”

Why is that statement so significant?

Because Babe Ruth understood that it’s not the home run that matters, but consistently applying the fundamentals of baseball. He could hit a zillion home runs, but if he didn’t touch all four bases, he would be called out every time and that home run wouldn’t matter. In other words, if he was not so consistent in his game, we would not know him as one of the greatest baseball players of all times, but rather as one of the most famous failures.

Consistency in your inventory marketing is the same. While a baseball field may only have four bases which players need to touch to ultimately score, the digital world we live in has grown into a field with many, many bases a consumer can use to ultimately end up at home plate and buy a vehicle. If you’re not diligently consistent in your marketing, and fail to ensure that you have a strong presence regardless of which base a consumer steps on, you may just find that they end up on someone else’s field.

But it’s not just having a presence there that makes a consumer continue around the bases on YOUR field, it’s connecting with them – giving them a reason to continue to round those bases. Emotion is what drives a consumer to lust for, desire and want to come touch, feel and drive that vehicle at your dealership. Video creates an emotional impact over and above pictures or the written word. Video builds trust in the brand, in the dealership in the salesperson and, most importantly, the individual vehicle.

You can’t capture a car shopper’s emotion unless you’re present AND have the most engaging content at each and every touchpoint. There is no better way to capture the emotions of your consumers than video content of your vehicle, dealership and salespeople, consistently – over every touchpoint – every time.

Engaging content will motivate the customer to continue past first base, then second, third and, ultimately all the way to your dealership. By doing so, you’ll ensure that every time the ball goes over the wall, it actually ends up as a homerun… and not an out.