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.

Think Virtual Reality is a Fad? Think Again.

by Tim James

Virtual Reality has been quite a craze recently with video gaming and other consumer electronics. However, the high cost of entry and expensive units limited its reach. Even Google’s cardboard VR glasses required smartphones that cost upwards of $700. The Oculus Rift Goggles were even more expensive and required high-end computers to work.

Now, however, Sony has provided a more cost-effective way for consumers to experience VR with the release of VR glasses designed for use with the Playstation 4 game console. With an installed base of 44 million Playstation 4 owners, the glasses instantly sold out on pre-order and are still hard to acquire, which illustrates the high demand for VR experiences. This release immediately made Virtual Reality readily available for mass consumption.

But if you think 44 million is a lot, what about rolling out Virtual Reality to over 2 billion consumers?

Well, that’s about to happen!

In a recent article, Facebook’s CTO revealed a roadmap for the future of Virtual Reality. As you may or may not know, Facebook owns Oculus Rift. However, according to Facebook, their plans for the future of VR for Facebook users do not include Oculus Rift. Instead, Facebook is working on a standalone product that will make Virtual Reality glasses which are integrated with Facebook “cheaper, easy to use and highly distributed.”

The project, named StandAlone, could instantly thrust Virtual Reality into almost every consumer’s hands, transforming it into common use in all areas including conversations via messaging (both audio and video), marketing and content on Facebook’s platform. Imagine experiencing all of the content posts and marketing messages in a VR setting.

Many automakers are currently implementing or actively working on their own VR experiences. And a few already have VR content in place. Virtual Reality is here and consumers are pursuing and embracing this technology. With the cost of entry decreasing and consumer adoption increasing, Facebook’s VR glasses could instantly change the game.

Dealerships that aren’t prepared or that have not already implemented VR experiences with their inventory merchandizing may find themselves scrambling as this technology is increasingly in the hands of consumers. VR isn’t going away, and it is not a fad. It’s also not the future. It’s the now.

Are you prepared?

Will You Be There Whenever Your Customers Need You?

In video marketing, many people think that to simply start making videos is enough. While it’s certainly a great start, there’s actually a lot more to it. In fact, I’d even go so far to say that simply beginning to make video at your dealership is more like showing up for your first day of football practice. The coach didn’t simply split everyone into two teams and have a game — chances are good that you did a whole bunch of running, pushups and other physical exercise until you threw up. You may have even done this twice a day — in the summer — and who knows how long it was before you actually — wait for it — touched a football! Do you think this practice, which happens every year on countless high school, college and professional football fields across the world doesn’t work? Of course it does. The point is that to be effective at the game, you must be in shape AND know the game plan!

I talk all of the time about the importance of having a strategy in your video marketing. That strategy includes multiple pieces — only one of which is actually picking up a camera and taking video. You have to know the game plan for the video before you can ever make an effective one. Just like you need to know where your wide receiver will be before you throw the football.

An article by ThinkwithGoogle.com perfectly captures this strategy. The article discusses micro-moments and describes them as Want-to-Know moments. Want-to-go moments. Want-to-do moments and Want-to-buy moments. These are the critical opportunities for brands and, according to the article, are the new battleground. In these moments consumers take immediate action, demand quality, relevance and usefulness. And will give their business to the brands that accomplish this the best.

So, what’s the strategy they recommend brands follow to win with consumers?

  1. Make a moments map. This means to simply identify the set of moments that your customer’s have in their journey. In a study released earlier this year by Google’s Automotive Division, the magic 5 moments 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. Keep in mind that these are only the buying moments. There are plenty of other moments. The buying journey is only one journey that leads them to your dealership. Service is another.
  2. Understand customer needs in-the-moment. While this is very basic, it is also one of the most important parts of the strategy. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes at each phase that you identified in your moments map and ask yourself what they want to know or what would be most helpful. Remember that to win the game, you need to provide quality and relevance. And, above all, be useful!
  3. Use context to deliver the right experience. Wherever possible, integrate context through geo-location or time of day to deliver experiences that feel as if your message was made just for them.
  4. Optimize across the journey. It is important to have a presence at each phase of the customer’s journey. And also ensure that your content is optimized for whatever device they are on. It’s very possible that one moment is visited on a mobile device, while the customer may continue their journey on a desktop. Make sure that wherever they are, your video content is optimized to deliver the best customer experience.
  5. Measure every moment that matters. This is one of the most important things in any marketing strategy, not just video. Inability to measure the successes (or failures) in your activities will inhibit you from discovering what actually works and will prevent you from increasing your effectiveness.

Don’t let the term micro-moments distract you. Each of these phases in the customer journey have always existed. The difference is that now almost everyone has the ability to access this information instantly from anywhere. So, the timelines have decreased exponentially. While it could take one customer months to get from the beginning of their journey to your dealership, it could very easily take another customer minutes to navigate through their whole journey.

Once you’ve created a strategy, the two-a-days are over. Now let’s pick up that camera and play some football!

Vertical Video: If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

by Tim James

Ever since cellphones gained video recording capability, people have insisted on shooting video vertically. Despite all the harassment and corrections received from peers when sharing a vertical video – “Hold the phone sideways!” – Some things never change. Those black bars that bookend the video when taken vertically certainly aren’t the most attractive. They also limit the space in which the video can be viewed.  Despite all this, a bunch of video platforms have finally given up encouraging people to abstain from taking videos vertically and have altered their platforms to accommodate them.

According to an article in Entrepreneur, Snapchat and YouTube have altered their platforms and have given their video players vertical video support. This means that those annoying black bars will no longer be visible when a vertically filmed video is uploaded. The newer live-streaming video services – Periscope and Meerkat – have always promoted a vertical video format. The thought process behind this is that most consumers peruse content holding their phone in a natural way (vertically) and horizontal video forces them to rotate the phone – an unnatural action with a smartphone.

In fact, Snapchat asks its marketers to reshoot their videos in a vertical manner. While this can be a costly suggestion, according to Snapchat, “vertical video ads are nine times more likely to be viewed to completion than their horizontal counterparts.”

It’s all about options, folks. Some consumers like watching videos horizontally. In fact, most video marketers up till now would cringe every time they saw a video with the black bars on the side, indicating that it was taken vertically. Now, however, these video hosting platforms and apps are optimizing their properties to emphasize vertical videos, so as to accommodate the way in which consumers actually use their devices. This is instead of forcing them to make (or watch) videos in an unnatural position. The fact that vertical videos have higher completion rates is certainly logical for these very reasons.

The most important things to consider when choosing platforms for your video marketing are: a) is the platform optimized for a mobile web experience, and b) is your video attractive and easy for a consumer to view. Forcing consumers to watch videos through an app could make them hesitate to watch – especially if they aren’t already a user of the app.

It’s also important to include distinct calls-to-action that consumers can take within the video player itself. It’s great if they watch your whole video. But, if they cannot be lead further down the buying funnel, what’s the point? You cannot expect a consumer to watch your video and then have to hunt you down because, well, they won’t.

It seems that we can lay to rest the taboo of vertical video now that these platforms embrace it. Does this mean horizontal video will all of a sudden be taboo? Who knows – and it really doesn’t matter anymore. Make compelling videos and host them in a way you can control where they go next, rather than risk the video player suggesting “relevant” videos which just so happen to be from your competition. In this way you’ll win in your video marketing — whether you take the video vertically or horizontally.

One Isn’t Always the Loneliest Number That You’ll Ever See

by Tim James

In determining the effectiveness of video marketing, perhaps the metric most used is views – How many views did this video get? In fact, in a recent study by Yahoo-owned video platform Brightroll, 31 percent of polling respondents from over 70 ad agencies in the UK, placed completed views as the most important metric, followed by brand lift (28 percent) and a four-way tie between inventory quality, conversion, click-thru-rate and sales impact, which all came in at 8 percent. Hold on a minute. Does this mean that these marketers care about video views almost four times more than sales?

In video marketing, too much focus can be placed on how many people saw a video when, in fact, what matters is did someone watch the video and then buy the car. Yes, it’s important to have your videos on every touchpoint a buyer may visit in the purchasing process. It’s also important that your video is engaging enough that that individual watches it and decides that YOUR car is the one they want, versus the many others they may encounter. But make no mistake, car buying is an individual journey.

Our world is so noisy today that consumers go out of their way to be alone. Don’t believe me? Try to visit mostexclusivewebsite.com then come back to this blog. I dare you.

It didn’t take long for you to come back, did it? You know why? That website only allows a single visitor on its servers and then only for 60 seconds at a time. Once a person gains access, they can then leave a short message on the site to prove that they were there. Sounds kind of silly, right? I mean, why would someone visit that site? The fact is that so many people are trying to access the site that it cannot keep its servers up. According to the Washington Post more than 300,000 people have tried to access the website while only 55,000 have been successful.

People crave individual experiences. They want to feel special. Creating relevant and engaging video content can accomplish that. It can warm the customer up to your dealership as they make their way along whatever path they’ve chosen. On high funnel touchpoints, you want customers to find videos about your dealership’s value propositions and why they should consider purchasing from you, service and sales overviews, along with customer testimonials. These will start making an impression on your customer and plant a seed that you are the “good guys” and that they can trust you. As they move further down the funnel, they’ll be watching your inventory videos while searching for a vehicle. Once they are low funnel shoppers, that’s when you want to treat them like they are the only lead, the only customer, and the most important person in the world, by serving up personalized lead responses, vehicle walk arounds and appointment confirmation videos.  Video also gives you the ability to serve up custom content via your video players, throughout the entire buying cycle and specific to an individual shopper’s behavior and viewing pattern.  This makes the overall experience even more relevant and more personal to each shopper.

Stop thinking of video marketing as a numbers game. There is only one number that matters –and that is the customer that is watching your video… right… now.

Paint Your Way to Increased Profits

by Tim James

As a sales and marketing professional, you probably learned a long time ago that the best way to present your products is by using words that paint a picture. Not just any picture, a picture that puts each shopper in the picture; helps them visualize owning your product; and then mentally experience the emotional pleasure that results from that ownership.

Painting the right picture is crucial for any type of sales. At dealerships, effective salespeople utilize this technique to help the customer visualize driving that new car on a road trip; how comfortable they’ll feel during the trip; how safe they’ll feel on the road and the peace of mind they’ll have knowing that their car will function properly the whole way.

Painting pictures is even more important when dealing with customers you can’t engage with physically, such as online shoppers. Your vehicles are competing with thousands of others for the attention of the shopper. Over the years, inventory marketing has progressed as dealers have increasingly made efforts to better stand out. There was a time when many dealers didn’t even have pictures of their vehicles online. However, it has now become standard as over time, dealers have realized that including pictures increases sales and inquiries. Once everyone started doing this, progressive dealers realized that having MORE pictures made their vehicles stand out from their competition even more. Many dealerships consistently now average 30+ photos of a single vehicle in their marketing. Well-written descriptions have also become important selling points as they personalize the vehicle for the customer. These descriptions can also paint a fairly decent picture to get the reader emotionally committed to the story.

As powerful as good photos and a well-written description are, they pale in comparison to the informational and emotional power of video.

In fact, according to a recent article in TechJournal, Forrester Research reported that one minute of video was worth 1.8 million words. Imagine the emotional commitment you can generate for your inventory! Here are some other statistics shared in that article:

  • Video in email marketing can increase click-through rates by over 96%
  • Opt outs from subscribers were reduced by 75% due to video content in email marketing.
  • Video appears in around 70% of the top Google listings.
  • People who view product videos are 85% more likely to buy.

Customers don’t have the time to visit every dealer that has a 2012 Honda Civic in stock. If your vehicle doesn’t paint a picture that gets a shopper emotionally committed, chances are your vehicles are simply caught in a price or distance filter. Painting pictures, on the other hand, personalizes the vehicle and makes it stand out. Customers want to hear the story of a vehicle. Why do you think vehicle history reports are increasingly popular for consumers? They tell a vehicle’s story.

People process stories in a different way than facts and figures. Successful salespeople avoid catering solely to the analytical side of people, as that’s the part that will tell them that they should buy the least expensive vehicle. You want the customer to involve their emotions in their decision-making. That’s the part that will convince them that they should do it now. That’s when they visualize themselves as owners, not shoppers. Not just owners of ANY car, owners of THIS car…THEIR car.

By utilizing videos for your inventory, you’ll create a better experience for your shoppers resulting in more shoppers taking mental ownership of your inventory, and will hold more gross in the process. Everybody wins.