marketing

A Mobile First Strategy is the Future of Marketing

Consumers increasingly use mobile devices to view content online. Study after study cites the fact that mobile devices are on a continued rise as the preferred medium for content. They surpassed desktops not too long ago and will undoubtedly continue to rise in dominance.

Mobile devices are always at hand, can be used almost anywhere, and are a convenient way to consume content. Because of this, marketers are on the lookout for the preferred type of content consumers want to view on their mobile devices.

What’s easier to do on a mobile device? Reading an article or watching a video? If you answered watching a video, then you’re in the majority.  Video ad spend is expected to reach over $100 billion by 2023, accounting for 80 percent of all Internet traffic according to a recent article on MarTech.

Facebook was the first to tie “mobile first” to “video first” as a strategy for brands. Why? Well, think about the billions of Facebook users and its unlimited content. Facebook knows where people browse on their site and, more importantly, what type of content they pay the most attention to. And that content is video.

Just look at the evolution of video. Why do you think we’ve progressed from stitched photo videos to real-time video and now 360 degree, augmented and virtual reality video? It’s not because marketers want it. It’s because consumers want it. There is simply no other reason to create a strategy and invest the time and effort into content production.

Look at Netflix. It went from a small mail-order movie rental company into one that dominates consumer’s televisions with streaming content. It is now one of the fastest and most prolific producers of original content in the country. Why would it choose to make that investment? Because that’s what consumers want! Netflix knows that the more eyeballs it can get, the more money it can make.

And that’s precisely how you should be viewing video content.

Video continues to dominate every form of content delivery. It takes less effort to consume and is more immersive. It’s easier to consume on mobile devices and captures more details in a way that text can’t. A consumer can’t really “see” a car by reading a Monroney sticker. They can, however, kick its virtual tires online and cruise through and around it via video.

Video content is here to stay. Not only is it here to stay, but marketers that fail to use it – and fail to have a robust mobile and video strategy – will quickly find themselves left behind eating their competitors’ dust. And, more importantly, left behind by their potential customers.

Decide now to increase your video content production efforts and include mobile in your strategy. You will quickly find that not only do your customers like it… but so does your bank account.

To Script or Not to Script? That Is the Question

When making videos for your dealership, it can be easy to get so caught up in the “What should I say?” that the video never gets made.

Some video marketing experts advise that scripts are the way to go as the person on camera then knows what to say. But that may not be best for everyone.

The person that is making the video, doing the talking and/or the subject of the video, ultimately is representing the dealership. Of course, everyone wants their videos to be professional. But you should also want them to be genuine (sincere) and engaging to the customer. Have you ever seen a video where the person speaks in a monotone or without emotion because they are reading from a script? It’s not very engaging, is it?

To that point, in this blog, I’d like to cover a couple of best practices that can help when executing different types of videos for your dealership that will more effectively engage your customers.

1. Walkaround videos – Whether for general merchandising or personalized emails, it is essential to be knowledgeable about the vehicle. Managers expect that their salespeople know their product. If your salesperson has to read a window sticker to do a walkaround in person, that certainly is not acceptable.

Well, the same holds true for video walkarounds. Customers get excited about vehicles when the salesperson is excited. If a salesperson can knowledgeably explain to a customer while emotionally engaged why a vehicle is excellent and/or why it’s right for the customer, the customer is much more likely to trust and engage with the salesperson. This is especially important when a customer is still in the “Is this vehicle right for me?” stage. If a salesperson can’t correctly show a car without a script, they should not be showing cars period — much less doing walkaround videos.

2. Personal email videos – The whole purpose of a personal email video is to convince a customer who inquired about the vehicle that your dealership cares about them on an individual level and that they should do business with you. Scripted videos can take the personality out of the equation, come off as dry and uninteresting. Ultimately, they could even be counterproductive to the primary goal – getting the customer to like the salesperson or BDC agent.

While it is OK to train employees on what they should say in general, to engage the customer, employees must be able to take those basic talking points and integrate them into the message using their personality. Just as customers can tell whether an email response is a template or an actual communication from a person, customers can also determine if a video response is genuine or just someone reading from a script.

It is definitely okay to write your thoughts down on paper and organize your thoughts to prepare for your personalized video. But when the camera starts rolling, put the script down, make eye contact with the camera, and let your personality shine.

Ensure that your salespeople and BDC agents are knowledgeable enough to make personal videos for customers without having to read a script. They should display who they are and showcase their own individual skills and personality. Customers will be more engaged, the message will come across as genuine and, ultimately, your dealership will see more success.

The Bird Is the Word

One of the reasons video captures your customers’ attention and engages them so effectively is that, when done properly, it tells a story. I came across a great article on AdWeek.com, which shares how the scooter company Bird created a clever video telling a powerful story. It’s not overtly promotional or in your face but instead has some key factors which make it so engaging.

First, it’s story-based. As in any story, it begins with character development, introduces pain points and then provides a solution. When you watch the short video, you see a street line painter endure multiple obstacles while trying to do his job. From traffic congestion, to exhaust, his life is frustrating. Then commuters riding Bird scooters enter the scene. He recognizes they would alleviate the obstacles and decides to take steps to solve the problem.

This illustrates the key factors which should be used when telling a story via video. You don’t have to create an animated masterpiece to convey your dealership’s (or your) story effectively. If you keep the essential elements of storytelling in mind when planning video content for your customers (or potential customers), they will end up more engaged. This translates into a desire to do business with you.

Video content is not all about selling. Sure, you should have videos of your inventory on your VDPs; send out personalized video email responses; communicate with customers via live video and have “Meet the Team” videos so customers can learn more about your dealership’s most valuable asset – your people. But, depending on where the customer is in the sales cycle, some types of videos work better than others.

Video works because customers feel included. When it comes to live video, customers know you are addressing them directly, and they can talk to you in real-time from the comfort of their home. However, even personal video responses can elicit a similar emotional connection. If done correctly, the customer can see that the salesperson is responding to them personally, rather than merely communicating via a generic email template. That personalization, combined with the critical factors of storytelling, not only engages your customer but builds rapport and stimulates emotion.

Here are some quick tips on how to do this:

Regardless of if it is a live video or a personalized pre-recorded video, the structure is the same. Introduce yourself, acknowledge the consumer by name, reaffirm the vehicle they are interested in and then walk them through key factors, identifying pain points by choosing appropriate stories. “Mr. Customer, my name is Bob, and I have been working with Toyota of Mars for 5 years. I’ve helped many customers find and secure vehicles that meet their needs and their budgets. [character development]. I realize that you’re concerned about safety. It’s certainly something that is a concern. Not all drivers are patient, follow the rules of the road and are aware of their fellow drivers.” [pain point addressed] This 2018 Toyota which you inquired about is an excellent choice. It has many safety features, including… [solution addressed].” Then finish the video with a clear call to action expressing what action you would like the viewer to take next and why they should take it.

Adding a touch of storytelling elements to your video content can transform an ordinary video into an engaging and emotional piece that captures and keeps your customer’s attention. More importantly, it separates you from your competition by personalizing that interaction and creating an experience that goes far beyond a simple walk-around or introduction video… and that’s how you get their attention —- and keep it!

Will Video Bring You New Customers?

While many dealerships agree that video is important and worthwhile, at the same time some think it’s time-consuming and lack the resources to put a video marketing strategy in place.

What if I told you that acquiring and scaling a well-planned video marketing strategy which leverages video content for shoppers throughout the entire buying cycle can be automated AND cost less than $5.00 per unit a month? Or that this same video content can help in search engine optimization for your website at no additional cost?  And, how about this: that same video content can also build customer rapport — AND attract new buyers you don’t even know exist? Would it then appear to be worth it?

According to NADA, the average dealership runs a marketing cost per sale of $640 per unit. Dealerships spend a ton of money between all their marketing sources attempting to attract attention to their inventory.

And how about this for a statistic? 93% of marketers say video brought them new customers — Interested now?

There is a case to be made that social media can help sell more cars. In fact, according to a study by leading video research company Animoto, 73% of consumers responded that their purchase decision was impacted by a company’s social media presence.

And what is the most popular type of content across all social media properties?

Video.

The best part is that with a scalable video marketing strategy you can use all of the same automated video content for your social media strategies as well, dramatically increasing the return on investment from all of your digital marketing. Would you rather spend $640 per unit — or much less?  It makes sense to look at what moves units and acquires new customers for the least amount of money. That’s how you increase profitability.

Still need convincing? How about this: 57% of millennials watch more video ads on social media than on television, and 45% of consumers discover brands through video ads; more than recommendations from friends, which is at 31%.

When it comes to discovering brands, word of mouth is still king. But, increasingly, consumers get recommendations from friends and then check out the dealership via social media such as Facebook or online reviews.

Having a healthy and robust presence on social media with video content can influence car shoppers and bring you sales from shoppers you didn’t even know were in the market.

Video content is here to stay and will increasingly dominate all platforms as the preferred type of content influencing sales. If you don’t already have a strategy in place to produce video content to market your inventory, your store’s value propositions, your monthly promotions, your employees, and your brand, you’re behind the eight-ball.

It really doesn’t take as much work as you think. And, the rewards you will reap are well worth the effort.

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!”

Don’t Let Your Dealership Become a Casualty of War

by Tim James

Amazon and Google are engaged in a war. Both produce proprietary hardware that consumers can purchase and use to access content through various means — and the competition is getting vicious.

I recognize that, in terms of video marketing hosting platforms, YouTube is the 800-pound gorilla — it certainly has large market share in terms of search and users. But recently, YouTube chose to engage in a battle with Amazon that threatens the usefulness of their platform. Why? Well, as consumers have grown used to accessing YouTube in different manners – via mobile phone, browser, connected device or streaming hardware – they now simply expect the same access, regardless of where they choose to access that video content.

Why should dealers care?

As in all marketing, dealerships should expect to benefit from the fruits of their labors. While technology has made the path of entry to different solutions easier, as a dealer, it still takes time and effort to create your content and messages.

When it comes to video marketing specifically, regardless of whether you are shooting video on smartphones, or have an elaborate professional setup, most of you probably still make the effort because you realize the value and exposure video content brings.

But, what if you do all the work and miss out on customers because companies don’t like each other?

Ah… the million-dollar question. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “You get what you pay for,” right? Yes, YouTube is highly popular with dealers in the video marketing arena, for good reason. They are the 2nd largest search engine in existence and, more importantly, they are free.

Um, but hold on a sec… are they really, free????

What happens when a customer searching for vehicles gets blocked from watching that video you made of your inventory? What about when they get an “Access Denied” message when trying to watch that personal video response you made for them? Any of these scenarios could cost you a sale, which costs you money. Not so free then, right?Well, that ease of access is no longer the case, and it could get worse. What am I talking about?

First, in October 2015, Amazon pulled Google Chromecast and Apple TV from its inventory and no longer offered it for Amazon customers to purchase, presumably to encourage use of its own Fire Stick product as a streaming solution.

Then, Amazon expanded its voice-activated hardware, Echo, to include the Echo Show, which includes a screen and video capabilities. At first, YouTube was available on this hardware. But soon after its debut, YouTube pulled access from the Echo Show because of how Amazon implemented it, which excluded some features.

Moving on forward, just last month, YouTube again appeared on the Echo Show, prompting many to believe that the companies had made up. However, apparently that was not the case. According to TechCrunch, Amazon simply developed a workaround to allow Echo Show users to access a web version of YouTube without Google’s knowledge.

Next, on the 5th of December, Google once again blocked Echo Show users from accessing YouTube content.  And it doesn’t seem like this battle is anywhere near the end.

On top of that, consider the data deficiencies, CRM integration or other workarounds staff go through to integrate inventory, or personalized video messages to your customers. The mere fact that videos hosted on the YouTube video platform could NEVER BE SEEN, even by those who TRY TO VIEW THEM on what’s arguably the most patronized company on the planet (Amazon), should concern dealers.

Neither Amazon (who is making inroads into selling cars on their website) nor Google particularly care about car dealers. There is much more revenue to be had in the marketing ad revenue world, as well as the cable-cutting trend that led them into the hardware business — and Amazon is working on coming after a share of the pie that Google has carved out.

As the war between the two companies’ heats up, avoid becoming collateral damage and consider the hidden costs associated with hosting your video on these platforms. “Free” isn’t always free. Make sure you have a video marketing platform that protects YOUR interests. Ensure that those valuable, time-sensitive messages are delivered and can be viewed by your customers, and remove yourself from the battlefield.

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.