inventory

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.

Master Video Fundamentals Before Going Social

When I talk to dealers about video marketing, one question I get asked a lot is “What about social?” In particular the marketing folks want to know what types of videos they should make to post on their social media platforms, which social media platforms drive the best results and how best to engage their social audiences.

These are all valid questions for advanced video marketers. But if you are just starting a video marketing strategy these are the wrong questions to be asking.

The primary goal of your video marketing strategy is to increase lead conversions on your website. For the first six months to a year, that is all you should be focusing on.

A secondary goal for your video marketing strategy may be to drive more customers to your website, or increase engagement with your social media followers. But you should not even attempt these goals until you have mastered the fundamentals of your primary goal.

After all, what is the point of driving traffic to your website if you are not converting visitors to leads once they get there?

Let’s say you post a funny video on your Facebook page and someone clicks through to your website. When they get to your website, all they see are static photos and Vehicle Details Pages (VDPs) with text only. That’s not what this person is expecting! You caught their attention with video, you got the click-through with a video, but when they get to your website there’s no videos!

When it comes to video marketing, I always recommend wading in slowly. Start with your inventory videos and master the fundamentals before you do anything else. That’s not to say the branding and fun stuff isn’t important. It is, but the goal of those videos is different than the goal of inventory videos.

With inventory videos, your goal is to present your inventory to a potential buyer just like the best salesperson in your store would. Your goal is to create emotional desire in a car shopper, so they take the next step and reach out to you.

How to Master Inventory Videos

Inventory videos are powerful because they have the potential to change a car shopper’s mindset. Most consumers visit your website hoping that your dealership has the vehicle they want. A dynamic inventory video can change that paradigm to make the consumer want and take mental ownership of a vehicle that you already have.

This paradigm shift is backed up by metrics. Overall engagement on a VDP featuring a live walkaround video jumps an average of 600 percent versus engagement on a static VDP. This translates into an approximate 30 to 35 percent increase in leads, according to feedback from our dealer customers.

The first step in mastering inventory videos is to come up with a process for creating them. You could assign someone internally, or use an outside lot services company or a video production company. Come up with a template for what should be included in each video, such as:

  • Front, side and rear view shots of the vehicle
  • Interior shots of the dashboard and infotainment systems
  • Interior shots of the front and rear passenger seats
  • Close ups of tires
  • Shots of special features, e.g. roomy trunk, video screens in the back, back-up cameras

Additionally, try to add one or two “why buy here” value proposition statements, such as promoting your fast and easy financing options, or your no-hassle shopping experience.

Be sure to add in banners promoting special offers such as 0% down or cash back. Finally, don’t forget your phone number and a call to action! A car shopper should be able to click on the video and have the option to submit a lead, or if they are using a mobile device, click to call.

Once you have mastered the process of creating your inventory videos, the next step is to make sure these inventory videos get exposure.

In addition to posting inventory videos on your VDPs, distribute them on third-party sites such as Autotrader and Cars.com. Use them in your lead follow-up process and in email marketing campaigns. And yes, you can even post them on your Facebook page.

The next step in mastering inventory videos is to make sure you host your videos on a platform that can collect and use data. Technology exists right now that allows your dealership sales team to get real-time alerts every time someone watches one of your videos. Many times that ‘someone’ can be matched to a profile in your CRM.

Imagine getting an alert that a customer you haven’t spoken with in two years is on Autotrader watching one of your inventory videos. Imagine getting an alert that one of your regular service customers just watched an inventory video on Facebook. You have instant leads and you have their contact information!

There’s no more relevant time to call these prospects than right now, while they are engaged with your brand.

Once you have mastered the art of creating inventory videos, getting them seen and incorporating user data into your lead follow up and marketing processes, you will see an increase in your website and phone leads. Only then should you start thinking about additional types videos that you can create.

In addition to inventory videos, I typically recommend value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos and service department videos. These should all be displayed prominently on your website but they can also be posted on your social media platforms and used in email marketing and lead follow up campaigns.

But first, master the basics. Inventory videos are the best way to turn website visitors into leads, and these should be your primary focus.

[VIDEO] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 2: Is It Right For Me

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.

[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.

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.

Inflatable Gorillas or Videos?

by Tim James

Most dealers have spent many years in the car business. They know what it takes to sell cars. They know when a customer walks onto the lot, the salesperson must give a professional presentation while being able to emotionally connect with and excite the customer into making that purchase.

To this end, most dealers are really great at merchandising their vehicle inventory on the lot. The cars are gleaming, the rows are tight and they use balloons, inflatable gorillas and other attention-grabbing devices to create an air of excitement.

And what about their online inventory? With more than 90% of car shoppers beginning their journey on the Internet, is your dealership doing everything it can to merchandise your vehicles online? After all, your inventory is your #1 asset.

Unfortunately, most Vehicle Display Pages (VDPs) on dealership websites look very similar to each other. This is not the fault of the dealers or even the website providers; these page formats must be standardized so the inventory data can be pulled and distributed to third-party sites. But the result is that these pages, their data and photos look static. A dealership’s most important online merchandising presentation, of their #1 asset, and it is unemotional, unappealing, and has nothing unique about it at all.

That’s why more dealerships are creating inventory videos. Videos convey information while appealing directly to car shoppers’ emotions. In a video, you can include intros that state your dealership’s value proposition; what makes you stand out from your competition? You can include custom promotion and incentive information; why should this shopper come to your store today?

In videos, you can include information beyond what just appears in the inventory data. Instead of reading data (the what), your customers listen to custom voiceovers that appeal to their comfort-loving side, or adventurous side, or budget-conscious side (the why).

Inventory videos are a great way to make your VDP pages shine. However if you decide to go this route, make sure your customers are aware that you have these videos! One mistake that some dealers make is that once the videos are created, they get buried somewhere or can only be accessed via a tiny button somewhere that may have a video symbol but no real call to action.

Fortunately many website vendors are realizing that VDPs need to be re-designed (only slightly) so that videos are more visible. If your dealership is creating inventory videos, make sure your videos can be seen! Here are a few tips:

1) Add a video slider or widget featuring inventory videos on the homepage of your website so your online visitors know that you have videos.

2) Make sure your inventory videos are clearly visible on your VDPs

3) Create a landing page for each inventory video. This will make it easy for your shoppers to have access to your value proposition, customer testimonial or additional inventory videos without having to search your site. More importantly, it puts these videos in front of your shopper at a time of the buying cycle where they can have the biggest impact on your sales. Your landing page should also include a call to action and a lead form.

4) Give your videos emotional appeal! Use professional voice over, music, banners and intros to convey your dealership’s personality and make the customer want more.

The fact is online merchandising efforts have a greater reach and more impact on potential car buyers than merchandising efforts on your lot. As appealing as that purple inflatable gorilla may be, inventory videos are bound to give you more bang for your buck.

Five Types of Videos You Must Have Today

By Tim James

Video content is now the preferred medium for consumers and statistics show that consumer Internet traffic for online video will increase by 80% by the year 2018. That’s not too far away.

And, when both are presented on the same page, consumers would rather watch a video than read text. For that simple reason, video content simply converts better.

There are many types of video content and unless you devote (or outsource) this content, it can be difficult and take some hard work to produce all of the different types of video you need. This can include: Pre-Roll; PPC & Re-Targeting video campaigns; promotional; model comparison; video email campaigns; in-market video display; new model test drive; value proposition; testimonial; inventory lead follow up; delivery; service department; and, finally, life cycle marketing videos. Are you overwhelmed yet?

While all of these are important, I would like to help simplify this for you by focusing on the five types of video content that have the biggest impact on conversions, leads and sales.

Here are the five types of video content you should focus on:

  1. New Model Test-Drive – According to Google, the top three types of video content that auto shoppers are searching for are: test-drives, features & options and vehicle walkthroughs. In fact, the time consumers spend watching these kinds of videos has doubled in the past year. For this reason, if you fail to provide this video content for your customers, I guarantee that they will watch it on someone else’s website! If your competitor has New Model Test-Drive videos and you don’t, they may be getting the shopper into their funnel higher in the buying cycle — and you may lose them before you even get started!
  1. Inventory – Your VDP pages on both your website and 3rd party sites are THE most important advertisements your inventory could have. You spend a lot of money trying to get traffic on those pages. However, it’s becoming harder to differentiate your dealership from VDPs by your competition. Most websites are very similar – especially the VDP pages – and you really don’t have much control of the content you can put on them. So how do you create a more compelling VDP page that sets your vehicle apart from all of the other similar ones? Through video. Yes, perhaps you think it’s difficult to take full motion videos of each of your vehicles. But here’s the thing: video is no longer an option. If you can’t do it, have your lot service do it. If neither of these is an option for you, then use automated services that stitch together the phots into a video format. Why? Because they work. Your time on site will increase by 20% or more, videos will have an average completion rate of upwards of 75%, lead form conversions will increase by 20% and engagement by 200%! Inventory videos have a significant impact and are ridiculously inexpensive to create.
  1. Value Proposition – As much as shoppers are looking for a vehicle to fall in love with, they are also looking for a dealership and salesperson they can trust. One of the first things you train a new salesperson to do is to sell the dealership, then themselves and then the car, right? Why would you do it any differently when the “salesperson” that the customer first encounters is your website? Consumers simply want a dealership that they can trust to be fair and honest with them. That’s what this type of video content is designed to achieve.
  2. Testimonials – These videos reinforce the trust factor and compliment your value proposition videos with a combination of selling both the dealership and the salesperson. Consumers trust other consumers and video testimonials are a powerful way to show potential customers that previous customers had a great car-buying experience with your dealership and/or salesperson. They also show that it was so good that they were willing to broadcast it publicly via a video testimonial. People communicate through tone and body language – something that text cannot fulfill. Video, on the other hand, can. Prospective customers watching your testimonial videos can identify with, understand and be influenced by that testimonial, just as if the person giving the testimonial was standing in front of them.
  1. Lead Follow-up – When consumers submit inquiries via third party sites, oftentimes they are contacted by more than one dealership. Even if they convert on your own website, the chances are great that they are also cross-shopping you with your closest brand competitor. Most e-mails coming from dealership CRMs are templates. Consumers can smell these a mile away. They know these weren’t created specifically for them. If you send these, the consumer isn’t going to be impressed. However, sending a personalized video e-mail, makes an impression. In fact, it makes so great an impression that video e-mails see a 200% higher click-through rate and 80% get more replies. They also have a 70% higher conversion rate and 65% of the consumers watch 100 percent of the video!

Starting your video marketing with a focus on these 5 types of video content should immediately increase VDP views, conversions and, ultimately, sales. Keep in mind, however, that simply creating the videos is only the first piece of the puzzle. You can create all of the video content you want but if you aren’t doing it with a strategy in place, you may find less success.

In my next blog, I’ll show you what a strategy looks like, how to implement it and why choosing WHERE your videos are is extremely important.

How to Create Emotionally Appealing Inventory Videos

by Gina Reuscher, Director of Marketing, Flick Fusion

For dealerships that are considering video marketing, or in the early stages of developing their video marketing strategies, we recommend starting with inventory videos. Inventory videos are a great way to attract and emotionally engage car shoppers. According to a recent Gallup study, “businesses that optimize this (emotional) connection outperform competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth.”

Emotion sells because it happens on a very instinctive level. People may not be aware of why they’re buying–they just know they feel good about it.

So how do you create emotionally appealing inventory videos? Visually, most inventory videos are pretty straightforward. Typically they’re two to four minutes in length and show the interior and exterior of the vehicle. They should also highlight popular features such as infotainment systems, cameras or hands-free tailgate openers.

Although these visual features by themselves do stimulate some emotion, let’s face it: there’s only so much you can do with lighting or mood effects without getting cheesy. It’s an inventory video after all, not a Hollywood movie.

The best way to make your inventory videos emotionally appealing is to create a custom, unique voiceover track for each vehicle. Most inventory videos, including virtually all automated voiceover videos, simply recite the features and data that the consumer can already see on the Vehicle Details Page (VDP).

To differentiate your dealership and generate a powerful emotional response in viewers, create inventory videos with voiceovers that focus on how owning the vehicle will make the buyer feel.

For each video, identify one or two emotional opportunities that you want to tap into. The emotions will be different depending on the type of vehicle. Then, decide on a specific call-to-action that you want the car shopper to perform during or after viewing the video. Include hyperlinks or an audio prompt for the call-to-action in the video along with phrases designed to generate emotion.

In Barry Feig’s book Hot Button Marketing: Push the Emotional Buttons That Get People to Buy, he uncovered 16 emotional opportunities that drive conversion:

  1. Desire for control
  2. I’m better than you
  3. Excitement of discovery
  4. Revaluing
  5. Family values
  6. Desire to belong
  7. Fun is its own reward
  8. Poverty of time
  9. Desire to get the best
  10. Self-achievement
  11. Sex, love, romance
  12. Nurturing response
  13. Reinventing oneself
  14. Make me smarter
  15. Power, dominance and influence
  16. Wish-fulfillment

To get you started, here is a list of emotions and sample phrases that you may want to incorporate into inventory videos.

Emotion Phrases
Sex Appeal/Desire Imagine how you’re going to look in this car, you’re going to look so good driving this car, this is a sexy car and you’re going to look sexy in it, you’re going to be the envy of your friends/family.
Admiration Your friends are going to love it, your kids are going to love it, your dog is going to love it! You are going to love yourself in this car.
Family Values Imagine your entire family on a road trip in this spacious SUV, imagine how much fun you and your family will have trekking in this vehicle, this is the perfect vehicle for creating that special family bonding time.
Discovery/Excitement Imagine the places you can go in this vehicle. Explore, discover and escape the ordinary, enjoy unparalleled freedom in this adventure ride, imagine escaping into the great outdoors, you’ll forget all your worries the moment you get behind the wheel.
Humor Imagine all the stuff you can fit in here; kids, dogs, hogs, farm animals, circus props, all your wife’s/husband’s old junk. Lots of stuff, you’ll never have to go anywhere without your stuff again.
Smart Buying this car will be the smartest decision you ever made, with this deal/rebate you’ll be walking off the lot feeling like Einstein, buying this vehicle is one decision you’ll never regret, this one’s a no-brainer folks.
Confidence Don’t worry, worry-free, satisfaction guaranteed, no-hassle buying experience. Imagine all the money you’ll save with this fuel-efficient vehicle; imagine all the things you can do with that money! You can go out to dinner, you can go on a trip, you can buy new clothes.
Desire for the best Rest assured with this vehicle you’ll be getting the best in class, highest quality, top of the line, best value, best looking, etc.
Fear of missing out Isn’t she a beauty? We haven’t seen a make/model in this primo condition for a long time, this one won’t last long folks, this vehicle is going to fly off this lot, this vehicle is in high demand, if you want this, don’t delay, this won’t be here more than a few days
Pride You’ve worked hard, you deserve this car, you know you deserve it, you’ve earned it and you’re going to feel so proud every time you slide behind this wheel.

These phrases are just suggestions. Feel free to brainstorm and come up with your own! It will take some practice to feel comfortable producing custom inventory video audio tracks, but with time it will become second nature.

One thing is certain: creating inventory videos with emotional appeal will be worth the effort. Emotion plus a call-to-action will convert more shoppers into buyers because emotion sells.