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What Do You Do When Car Buyers Aren’t Coming into Your Showroom?

By Tim James

With all the worry and concern out there regarding the Coronavirus and the impact it will have on public health and business, this is a great time to talk about video communication. It has always been the perfect tool for connecting with consumers without having to be fact-to-face.

To be really effective your video communication platform should integrate New Model Test Drive videos, Inventory Videos, Video Calling, and Real-Time Notifications.

Google estimates that approximately 70% of all automotive shoppers are searching for New Model Review Videos early in the buying cycle. Stand out from the competition by offering shoppers video content, rather than the standard pictures found on common dealership websites. Using the right platform, it is easy to add New Model Review Videos to your website and deliver information in an emotional video presentation for those customers that prefer not to visit a showroom, and still effectively move them through the buying funnel.

Automated Inventory Videos are also proven to transfer more information and inspire more emotion from your VDP Pages than pictures or words alone. They are a great addition to internet and phone lead follow up.

Another critical tool that can win over car shoppers is New Model Test Drive Videos and Full Motion Walkaround Videos. These types of videos are great for car shoppers early in the shopping journey. Inventory videos are then the next logical touchpoint.

During a time when fewer people will chose to visit the showroom, wouldn’t it be nice to know if your leads are still shopping or not? They may not be coming into the dealership, or returning your calls, but what are these folks stuck at home actually doing?

Our platform offers real-time notifications and sends an alert every time one of your prospects is live and watches one of your inventory videos –  whether on your website, AutoTrader,Cars.com, or other third-party marketplaces. You then know exactly when you should attempt to contact them. Even if you cannot reach them at that moment, you can see exactly how active that prospect still is.

Speaking of lead management, one of the easiest ways to increase shopper interaction and convert more website traffic into on-the-lot shoppers is to enable your shoppers to talk to one of your professionals “live” from the comfort and safety of their own home. Live Video Communication is quickly becoming the preferred means of communication.

You can increase the humanization and personalization of your communication touchpoints dramatically in both sales and service by utilizing live video and texting. Live communications make it easy right from that start, and you can scale your video calling strategy throughout your entire dealership, regardless of size. Encourage your customers to video call you and get that face-to-face interaction without actually being face-to-face – something that would certainly appeal to car shoppers nervous about coming into the dealership.

If customers are spending more time at home, they probably have more time to shop online. Provide stimulating and emotional product information to keep your dealership top-of-mind not just now – but in the future once life returns to normal.

In this period of social distancing, video can help your dealership continue to respond to and communicate with car shoppers while moving them down the sales funnel while your competition is waiting.

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.

Don’t Put Your Newspaper Ad on TV

“Over the next three years, the biggest trend in our products will be the growth of video.”

-Mark Zuckerberg

If you’ve heard the news, many are proclaiming that Facebook is now even more pay-to-play than it already was. What do I mean? At one point, Facebook was raw and not filtered – you could view all content from everyone, just as with other sites, such as Twitter.

Then brand pages came along, interjecting branded messages if you liked their Facebook page. As more businesses hopped aboard, the user experience became more cluttered and viewers were presented with less of the content they really wanted to see.

With the introduction of boosted posts and Facebook ads, this paid-ad model has allowed Facebook to monetize the platform while giving advertisers a way to increase exposure. However, on January 11, Facebook announced that it will decrease brand exposure – even for paid advertisers – in order to “bring people closer together.” And marketers are scared.

Okay, so does this mean you as an advertiser should drop everything and abandon the platform as your content will now get less attention?

No, and here’s why: There’s a tip that came straight from the man himself, Mark Zuckerberg. Somewhat recently, Facebook began pushing publishers and businesses to post more video content – even going so far as to recruit celebrities and influencers to post their content natively to the site – and rewarding those that did with extended reach in newsfeeds. In fact, the preference for video continues to this day. And, as stated in the quote at the top of this blog, Mark Zuckerberg said it himself in Facebooks Q3 Earnings Call.

I would highly recommend that if your dealership is not yet regularly making and producing video content, you should make real plans to do so. Of course, if you are already spending money on Facebook to promote your content, you could continue to pay to promote that non-video content, but you’ll soon be paying more money to reach the same amount of people. Think of it this way, promoting non-video content on Facebook is like putting your newspaper ad on the TV as a 30-second static image!

The equalizer, it would seemor at least a competitive advantage is to utilize Facebook’s algorithm preference for video in your marketing and social content. It could be that video content – especially video that is engaging and prompts interaction is a lifesaver when it comes to connecting with your Facebook audience. If your dealership chooses to combine that video content with some sponsored posts, you could further increase engagement.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Facebook wants to be a platform of video content. They’ll reward you for doing it with increased exposure and, according to Mark Zuckerberg, it is the company’s focus for the next three years.

if you want to succeed in getting eyeballs on your message and engagement with your audience, video is no longer optional. So, go out and start making videos. That’s what your audience wants – and that’s what Facebook wants. Or become invisible. The choice is yours.

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!”