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Are You Throwing Customers Away Due to Lack of Communication Channels?

I was recently in need of a moving company. There was one in my community that had done such a great job of branding and building consumer awareness that I decided to give them first shot at my business. I WANTED to do business with them because of their brilliant marketing.

When I was ready to pull the trigger, I Googled their business name and went to their website searching for an email address so I could interact with them and get information via email.  However, when I landed on their website, the only contact option offered was to call them.

Well, I had seen their number all over the place already, on signs throughout the neighborhood, on the side of their vans, through paid search ads, organic search ads and their organic search listing. But that’s not how I wanted to communicate with them! I wanted to email them, as that is what I prefer, but they didn’t provide that option. So, guess what? I bounced from their website and searched for other companies that would allow me to communicate with them the way I felt comfortable communicating.

This is an interesting analogy as the same problem is so prevalent in our industry — Do you know how many times potential car buyers have moved onto your competition as you do not allow them to interact with you by their preferred method of communication?

If you aren’t offering every form of communication possible, or fail to clearly post all methods of contact throughout your website, you are probably losing potential vehicle sales and service opportunities more often than you think. Consumer preferences for how they wish to contact and interact with a dealership can vary greatly. Some want to call and talk to a live person. Some want to text. Some want to email. And now, with today’s technology, the younger crowd wants to communicate via live video stream – something most dealerships aren’t prepared for.

Regardless of how the customer wants to interact, my guess is that you want to sell them a car. If they are of the same mindset that I was, you could easily lose that opportunity by failing to provide the form of communication the customer wants to use. And therein lies the problem.

There are many generations in the market today buying vehicles – and each one (not just generations but people) prefer different forms of communication.  They may even prefer a different sort of communication at different times, or with different businesses. Imagine if I wanted to communicate with that moving company at 1:00am. I couldn’t even send them an email because all they had was a phone number!

Our goal shouldn’t be just to move shoppers through our sales funnel, it should be to make it easy for shoppers to move through our sales funnel.  To accomplish this, you must ensure that all your bases are covered when it comes to providing your customers – or potential customers – their preferred means of communicating with you.

If you are like most dealers, I am sure you try, unsuccessfully, to communicate with customers that submit lead forms all day long. Why make it difficult for them to engage with you when, in fact, they may really want 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. 

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 Use Video to Turn Leads Into Shows

by Tim James

All dealerships get leads that originate from the Internet. Not all dealers, however, are equal when it comes to how they handle these leads. Ever wonder why some dealers are able to close Internet leads at 12+ percent, while others struggle to reach 6 percent? The reason has everything to do with how these leads are handled – from speed of reply to the content in the reply itself.

One of the most powerful ways to communicate to today’s tech savvy customers is with video. It’s a highly effective form of communication because it engages the customer’s senses. It can help capture the customer’s attention and increase the amount of leads that turn into appointments.

There are three basic types of videos that I find work best when created and integrated into any lead follow up system :

  1. Lead Response Videos: When you receive a 3rd party Internet lead, chances are really good that lead also went to multiple other dealerships. This interested buyer then gets bombarded by e-mails and phone calls. Quite frankly, most of these responses are generic, contain no information, aren’t personalized and tend to start looking alike. Gain a competitive edge with your response — rather than simply send a template email, create a personalized video response that thanks the customers for the inquiry. Introduce yourself, mention the vehicle the customer inquired about and invite them in. Your video will stand out and make you the memorable one. Customers will also feel flattered that you took the time to create this video and realize that there is a real person communicating with them, not just a computer.
  1. Appointment Confirmation Videos: When you do get a customer that is interested in test driving a vehicle, it’s important to create a sense of obligation on their part. It’s proven that e-mails that contain videos get opened at a far higher rate than those that do not (especially when the word “video” is in the subject line). Create an appointment confirmation video and you can increase the chance that the customer will open and view it. In addition, use the video to tell them that you’re looking forward to seeing them and make it “personal” so they feel guilty if they blow you off and don’t show up. Let them know that you are doing something “for them” by making sure you have the vehicle cleaned up, pulled around and waiting for them…and offer to have an ice cold bottle of water or a cold Coca Cola waiting for them.
  1. Personalized Walkaround Videos: Nothing is stronger than sending a personalized walkaround video to your customers. The fact that you took the time to video and explain the features and benefits of the specific vehicle they inquired about JUST FOR THEM, can impress them and can also increase their interest level. People appreciate it when others go that extra mile to help them. Make your vehicle AND yourself memorable and you’ll have a better chance of building trust and rapport with your customer and, ultimately, getting them into your dealership.

Give one or two of these a try, I’m confident you’ll be impressed with the increase in the lead to appointment rates and appointment show rates that you receive.

They Watched Your Video. Now What?

by Brian Cox

There’s no doubt that video marketing is exploding in popularity with businesses and consumers. Both Facebook and Twitter are investing heavily in video and, in the case of Facebook, rewarding those who upload their video straight onto its extended reach advertising platform.

The days of reading long text descriptions and features of vehicles on websites are quickly fading. Manufacturers and dealerships are putting more effort and bigger budgets into video marketing. However, no matter how creative, funny, informative or compelling a video is, if it’s missing one simple ingredient, it will not help you sell more of anything – whether that’s a salesperson, the dealership or a car.

What is that simple ingredient? – It’s a call-to-action.

In terms of functionality and conversion, all websites typically contain calls-to-action. Customers that visit a dealership’s website can gather the information they want and, most of the time, there is a call-to-action on the page they’re viewing; be it the home page or a vehicle description page. Many videos, however, have no call-to-action. An online car shopper will visit multiple touchpoints when researching vehicles – Think of all of the sites your videos are on that the consumer could visit. You may control the content and call-to-actions on your own website, but it’s not always the case on every touchpoint.

Many dealers incorporate personalized video e-mail responses and walkarounds and introduce staff on their “About Us” pages. These are all great but, in many cases, they neglect to incorporate the single most important question that a consumer will ask after watching:

What do I do now?

Even if you have a call-to-action on the actual webpage that the consumer is on while watching your video, include a call-to-action within the video itself. It doesn’t have to be long or confusing. It should be simple. Something like:

  1. Call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX or email us today at XXXXXX
  2. Make sure to mention this video to claim your special offer
  3. Make sure to visit our website and get the exclusive Internet pricing only available on our website

If you’re not asking viewers of your video to do SOMETHING at the end of your video, they won’t do ANYTHING and you’ll be missing out on conversions. Guide the consumer through the funnel in relation to the video content they just watched. If the video was a “Why Buy From Me” sent by a salesperson, include their contact information at the end. Another thing that can be very beneficial is to incorporate a call tracking number on your videos.

If it’s a vehicle walkaround video, direct your customers as to what they should do next. Create a video explaining how your dealership assists people with challenged credit then direct them to your online credit application to get started. If you produce service videos, make sure to include an offer, coupon or, at the very least, an invitation to the dealership or to schedule an appointment.

It’s really not a difficult concept. Almost every other form of marketing will have calls-to-action (if they’re any good). So why shouldn’t you also include them in your videos? It’s up to you to tell your customers what you want them to do. If you guide them properly and with relevance, you’ll find that more of them follow the path you’re leading them down and will see more conversions.

Forget MORE Leads. Focus On More QUALITY Leads.

by Tim James

In the world of automotive retail, dealerships are always searching for ways to increase leads. Whether they choose to pursue that goal through third-party lead providers, increase page rankings through better SEO, or various other ways, if there is a customer in their market who wants to buy a car, dealers want an opportunity to earn their business.

When a shopper shows up to the lot, the sales team is trained to engage the shopper and ultimately get the shopper emotionally attached to a vehicle, even if it is not the exact vehicle the shopper was initially inquiring about. In other words, your goal is to make the shopper want a vehicle the dealership has in stock, regardless of which vehicle the customer came in asking about. This is accomplished with the walk around.

This sales technique doesn’t have to be limited to physical customers at your dealership. Online, a good video will accomplish this same emotional process. A video is the best way to engage a consumer on your VDP Pages and showcase your vehicle. This highly visual medium allows you to deliver the most information while also selling your dealership and the vehicle at the same time.

Getting the consumer emotionally attached to the vehicle and MAKING them want a vehicle you have versus simply HOPING they will want a vehicle you have is how you produce the MOST & BEST leads you can get. They are more likely to re-engage after their initial communication (answer your phone call or respond to your email); more likely to set an appointment; more likely to show for that appointment and they are more likely to purchase.

This whole process is less about the information you have available on your site and more about how you deliver the information.  You could have tons of information and all kinds of pictures, but today’s consumer wants their content delivered via video…which is a “win/win” because with a video you can deliver the information and “sell” the vehicle at the same time.

Make good use of video and ensure that you have full and complete vehicle descriptions. You end up with more quality leads which should translate into increased responses and more productive engagement (less haggling over price), leading to the ultimate goal of increased sales.