engagement

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.

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.

The Dominance of Video Marketing for Business

As video continues its quick rise it has become the most engaged with and preferred type of content for consumers. Marketers have taken notice and are quickly pivoting their content efforts accordingly. A new study by Magisto reports that video marketing has already eclipsed all other content types and is now a $135 billion industry. To put that into perspective, the report shares that advertisers in 2017 “expect to spend $83 billion on digital ads and $71 billion on TV commercials.” 84 percent of marketers created more video in 2017, with 60 percent of businesses having video marketing that accounts for more than 25 percent of their marketing budget.  

Why is video so dominant as content? According to the study, “Done correctly, video has the scale of television, the precision of digital marketing and the power of authentic story. Businesses are using video to distribute their messages in ways that contribute real value to the attention economy…”  

Consumers prefer video content. Just look at the most popular websites – namely social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Video content dominates consumers’ newsfeeds because that’s the type of content that Facebook sees is most engaged with. But don’t think this is all about social media. Magisto shares that by noon Pacific time every day, 120 billion emails are sent and 35 million photos uploaded to Instagram.  

Consumers are voting by their actions as far as the type of content they prefer — time spent on web pages with video averaged 7 minutes and 21 seconds. While time spent on pages without video was only 2 minutes and 48 seconds, according to a study by Wistia, which analyzed consumer behavior on the top 100 websites.  

Why is time on site important? The longer a consumer spends on your site, the more likely they are to convert. In fact, having video on a web page can increase conversion by up to 80 percent, making online shoppers being almost twice as likely to buy from that business! 

 Video content should not be something you are “considering.” That time has passed. It’s now only a matter of what kinds of video should be produced, and how your dealership should use it with your customers. Engaging consumers is the number one way to increase interest and steer them towards your dealership and away from the competition. Of course, if your competition is using video and you aren’t, chances are they are already taking away sales from you.   

Video marketing is not hard, nor is it expensive, it just needs to get done. It’s no longer whether you should be doing video, it is how much is it costing you NOT to? 

Can You Hear Me Now?

Engaging video needs to be quality video. Whether you’re making it with an iPhone, or a $10,000 camera, it’s important to make sure that a viewer (or viewers) can clearly make out what is being recorded. As personalized video and social media content such as Facebook Live are becoming increasingly popular, there’s one thing many aspiring video marketers fail to consider… 

Sound quality. 

The fact is, it doesn’t matter how expensive (or inexpensive) your video equipment is, almost all tend to lack microphones that are of sufficient quality to really isolate the speaker. Think about it. When you’re doing a video walkaround for a customer, consider all the challenges you face. You’re probably doing it on the dealership’s lot, which means all sorts of background noise is going on: other customers; people paging each other; service department noise; weather-related noise (like wind); and, since most dealerships are roadside, you probably have some traffic noise too. All of these background sounds can easily affect the sound quality of the video and make it difficult for a customer to hear you clearly, which makes the video less engaging –despite how great the video quality may be.  

 The same issues can arise with personalized email videos, or any type of video content. Your showroom isn’t going to go silent just because you want to record a personalized video email to a customer. It just won’t! There are phones ringing, salespeople talking, customers milling about, perhaps kids in the service waiting area, or even background music playing. All of these things can also affect the overall quality of the video and detract from the professionalism you wish to present to your customer.  

 My advice is to invest in a great microphone. Regardless of the equipment you use to make the video, there are many choices for external microphones that will work with it and it doesn’t have to be expensive. By simply adding an external microphone to your smartphone, DSLR or video camera, you can greatly increase the clarity and engagement of your video. Nothing is worse than creating a super video only to find out later that some car horn in the background, or other noise, interferes with your voice.  

If you’re the type that makes videos on your own (i.e.: selfie video emails or walk arounds), then a simple corded lapel microphone should be sufficient to adequately capture your voice and minimize ambient noise, while not interfering with your video production. If you have someone filming you, whether that’s with a smartphone or DSLR, consider upgrading to a wireless lapel microphone. This allows the camera to be further back, hides microphone wires and minimizes ambient noise, while nicely capturing your voice.  

Go ahead and keep making those videos. People love watching them… but they also want to hear what you’re saying. Follow this advice and you’ll find that your video quality increases and your audience is more engaged. 

Video Marketing: The Death of Boring

by Tim James

While I often talk about “basics”, that’s simply because many dealers are still not reaping the benefits of video marketing. But let’s say your dealership is doing video marketing. Perhaps you’ve made a commitment to conduct live video walkarounds for every vehicle. Maybe you’re engaging your customers via personal video e-mail. And perhaps it’s working well. Most people would advise a marketer that is having success to follow the old saying “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Well, sometimes that may not be the right answer.

Consider the “Red Bull” brand. They are widely known for producing some of the most successful viral video marketing pieces ever – including setting a record for the most live concurrent video views, with 9.5 million users watching their space diving video. The brand focused on creating video content that illustrated daring and astonishing feats of athleticism. As a result, it earned the respect and attention of many major brands across the country. But then… they changed their strategy. And everyone gasped.

Why would any company change a video marketing strategy that is considered (and measured) as the bar to achieve? Why change something that is working so well?

We may never know why Red Bull decided to change their strategy away from big time, exciting event videos that consistently went viral. What we do know is what they changed it to: Consistency.

Red Bull decided that producing regular, consistent video content (more quantity) would pay off over producing less video content — even if the videos as a group are not as “epic.” And what did this achieve? In the last year, Red Bull has created 639 videos that each have more than a million views, with a combined total of 1.7 BILLION views, and almost 33 million engagements.

While each individual video itself gets less engagement than one of the EPIC videos, overall the brand is achieving more views and engagement at less expense. Red Bull’s gamble on a consistent stream of video content, over occasional highly produced epic videos payed off.

What does that mean for your dealership?

Creating consistent content – walkaround videos, creative commercials, etc. – will absolutely engage consumers. But it’s not all about following some straight line on the road to your destination. Creativity will pay dividends – it’s a matter of regular content but also doing something to catch attention and set you dealership apart from the competition.

Take a step off the line and be a little adventurous.

Take for example a dealership in Minnesota, White Bear Mitsubishi. They adopted a white bear as their mascot and have created countless commercials and content including a person dressed in a giant white bear outfit. (If you’ve never seen them, they’re great!) But it isn’t the commercial that shot them to stardom, it is the OUTTAKES from the commercial. On their Facebook page alone, these commercial outtakes have had 6.9 million views, over 35,000 likes and over 100,000 shares!

It’s also been syndicated, made into memes and featured on television news reports! Did they expect this kind of exposure by simply posting some silly outtakes from a commercial they did to support their local hockey team? No!

The point is that they continued to produce content. They stepped outside the box. And because of that, the world is now talking about them. Had they never tried, they’d never have succeeded.

Wouldn’t you like to have those kind of results and exposure for your dealership? The only way that’s ever going to happen is to go out and start making video – and never stop.

For Car Buyers, 5 Is the Magic Number

While the consumer’s car buying journey can include upwards of 24 touchpoints, there are some particular milestone moments in that journey that can define and direct their actions. These moments are covered in a report recently released by Google’s Automotive division, “The 5 Auto Shopping Moments Every Brand Must Own.” The report states that the key moments within a car buyer’s path that every brand must be aware of and present for are:

  1. Which car is best?
  2. Is it right for me?
  3. Can I afford it?
  4. Where should I buy it?
  5. Am I getting a deal?

To truly make an impact on these shoppers throughout each stage of the car buying process, dealers need to have content which appeals to buyers, that makes those buyers desire to take action, and that helps lead them down the road to their dealership. At each stage in the process, dealerships compete for consumer eyeballs. While some dealers will rely on stock information for their vehicle descriptions, others may actually take the time to write custom comments. Some will have a limited number of photos of a vehicle, while others may include 40 or more. The problem is that, to the consumer, every vehicle is almost always one of many in a list that’s typically sorted by price.

So, you can you differentiate your Honda Civic from the thousand others for sale in a market?

Through storytelling.

Statistics show that we remember 20 percent of what we hear; 30 percent of what we see; but a whopping 70 percent of what we both see AND hear. The more of a customer’s attention you can grab, the more likely that YOUR vehicle will catch and hold their attention. Descriptions alone can’t achieve this. You’ll be lucky if they even read the whole thing. And forget about a customer flipping through 40 photos. Chances are that they will browse through a few before abandoning that VDP and moving on to the next one. And the next one may or may not be yours. The only way to maximize your shot at attracting and keeping interest is through a combination of sight and sound – and that’s where video comes in.

Video has the unique power to tell stories. Whether those stories are about the vehicle, the salesperson, the dealership, or a plethora of other topics, no other medium is as powerful.

With video, you can tailor your story to a specific person. Few marketing tools have more influence on a car shopper than a vehicle video walkaround, specifically made for that customer. Think of how much more effective an e-mail response is that contains a personalized video greeting, over the multiple canned email responses they probably receive from your competition.  Consumers aren’t stupid. They realize that these type of e-mails are not authentic responses to their inquiries. Chances are that just about every one they receive from multiple dealers contain very similar messages. Video will give your dealership the edge. The consumer can very quickly see that they have received an authentic response. And that the salesperson, or BDC rep, took the time to make a video specifically for them!

It’s time to up your game. Make an impression that is meaningful, authentic and personalized.

In my session at the 20th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition, “The Four Best Ways to Use Video: Learn a Video Marketing Strategy that Sells,” I explain just how crucial video marketing is to a dealership’s success. I will also talk about the importance of having an identified, measurable and scalable video marketing strategy. While video content doesn’t have to be difficult to produce, there is certainly more to it than simply running out and buying a camera. Join me in my session and you’ll leave knowing how to leverage the power of video to sell more cars.