By Tim James
Every penny spent on advertising and marketing is to get more people into the dealership. Dealers also make a significant investment in the salespeople themselves, training them to help develop the person-to-person skills needed to sell to all the prospects marketing dollars drive into the dealership. Those person-to-person skills are where most automotive salespeople excel, it is what they are best at. Phone calls, emails, text messages, or online chats may not be their biggest strengths. However, put them face to face with someone and they excel. But how are salespeople supposed to ‘get them in’ when countrywide shutdowns and capacity limits are encouraging shoppers to stay home as much as possible? The answer is video conferencing, also known as video calling or video chat.
It is a different world now – today doctors conduct many patient appointments via a live video conference. Many doctors are scheduling video appointments, our children are using video conferencing to go to school right now, and most of you reading this are utilizing video conferencing at your workplace to replace onsite meetings.
Live communication in this way is becoming the new normal– all kinds of shopping is accelerated to the next level via a live stream. Well, guess what, vehicles are no different. During the pandemic, and even before, dealers have been utilizing tools such as Zoom to engage with customers via live video and it is not hurting sales, in fact far from it, it is helping to sell more cars than ever before by making it easier to shop the way today’s customers want to. And it is a safe secure, method, for practically zero budget!
There is one thing that I know for sure and that is video sells. An unfortunate misconception is that vehicle details shared outside the dealership walls can demotivate shoppers from visiting a dealership. You cannot sell them a car if you don’t “get them in”, right? This misconception may prevent some dealers from realizing the full potential of video in nearly every department from sales to service to F&I. Selling a consumer is, was, and will always be about getting the consumer emotionally attached to The Dealership, The Sales Person, and The Car. The pandemic has pushed more shoppers than ever before into shopping online. COVID-19 certainly has motivated more dealers to incorporate video into their sales and service processes. Now, a way to trump your competition is to go one step further and embrace live video conferencing to inspire the emotional connection.
In fact, the most immediate benefit of live video calls is that salespeople now have an opportunity to use those natural person-to-person sales skills they have spent their entire careers perfecting. Even the most technophobic salesperson can engage with the most cutting-edge technology utilizing live video calls. If they can answer a phone, they can answer and make a live video call. It really is that simple, it’s safe, and consumers love it!
It is easy to incorporate live video calls directly from your website. Think about how many website visitors you have every day and imagine being able to instantly engage with them on their terms. It is like having a live service or sales window on your website Today’s customers have grown used to being serviced on their terms, not yours. Also, your sales and business development staff can ‘cut to the chase’ and get into direct contact with customers, eliminating hours of back and forth via calls, texts, and emails.
Live video for a vehicle demo enables a salesperson to guide a consumer through the vehicle features and benefits in real-time, just as if the customer were standing right on the lot. With some platforms, the salesperson can text the customer a Personalized URL and all the customer has to do is click on the link to instantly be engaged in a live one-way or two-way video conference.
Live video calls can also compliment the post-sale delivery process as part of a cautious and contactless sale. The salesperson can simply go over the delivery walkthrough as they always have, but now they can do it through a live video call.
The sales department isn’t the only branch of a dealership that can boost profits with live video. A typical service department experience involves a customer dropping off a vehicle and waiting at the dealership or leaving and awaiting a call for a diagnosis.
Using live video to discuss a vehicle diagnosis is a powerful way for service advisors to explain and demonstrate repairs while keeping the customer engaged during the decision-making process. Having a live video call with a customer after sending service recommendations increases acceptance rates and will quickly become your service advisor’s favorite tool. Live video can eliminate hours of annoying phone tag back and forth by the service department. The customer can also see the recommended service in real-time which reinforces the recommendation and can easily elicit a response of “yes,” rather than “let me think about it,” so that they can go and ask a friend, family member, or price shop the repair with an independent facility.
The F&I department can benefit too. The F&I Manager can advise the customer that they are recording the video call, record the full F&I presentation with all disclosures, and do the entire deal remotely. They can even send the entire recorded presentation to the customer.
Live video calls keep a customer fully engaged with you. Facetime did not gain it is huge popularity on Apple devices because consumers did not like it, but rather the contrary. By using live video at your dealership, you quickly build rapport and earn the customer’s trust. And that is how you increase revenue.
Videos are essential for effective marketing and will continue to rise in importance in the future. They are engaging, and consumers would rather watch a video than click through a bunch of photos. I’ve talked plenty of times about the different types of videos. But for this blog, let’s get off VDPs for the moment. Some of the video content I recommend for dealers are how-to videos, vehicle walkaround videos, and reviews. This is excellent content for a dealership’s website as these videos engage existing customers. But there is another benefit that dealers tend to forget – they also attract prospective buyers and service customers. The trick is that they must be easily discoverable.
According to an article on CEOWorld, matching your video title to a search and optimizing the video description and URL is an excellent way to increase your dealership’s SEO strategy and performance.
Everyone uses a search engine – mostly Google. On a basic level, Google delivers search results by deciding which content is relevant to the search and tends to favor local results first. For example, if a consumer were to search “Chevrolet dealership,” Google won’t serve up results for dealerships across the country, but rather those nearby. The problem is that how-to and video walkaround videos and reviews don’t show up in many consumer searches because dealerships fail to tell Google that their video is relevant.
Think about it. If a consumer is looking for a review of a new model vehicle, what do they typically type into the search bar? Most consumers will type in precisely what they are looking for. If searching for a review of a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, that is pretty much exactly what they type into the search bar. Or, if they want to know what a radiator flush is, that’s what they type in the search.
It makes sense to ensure that the title of your video mimics the questions a consumer is most likely to type into a search engine. You then show relevance to Google and will show up in searches. If you hit the nail on the head and the title of your video is an exact match for the consumer’s search, you are infinitely more likely to show up high in the organic search results. And not just Google but all search engines. Also, because Google favors local search results, chances are high that local consumers will be served up your video over others.
Video is increasingly favored by search engines, social media platforms, and consumers. Therefore, it’s imperative that your dealerships have an effective and comprehensive video marketing strategy in place.
Create content consumers want to see and be smart with your titles. Consumers will then be served up your dealership website as the answer they are looking for. And that’s a great thing for sales and service.
Stitched photo videos have been around awhile. I’ve had many people ask me lately if they are still relevant, do consumers really watch them, and why dealers should have them when they already have a large number of photos and vehicle description on the VDP. My response is to remove personal opinions out of the equation and let the “data” do the talking.
The reality is that stitched photo videos can be the most important type of video content your dealership has. Consumers are video-oriented and, while it is good for a dealership to have a large number of photos of a vehicle on their VDP, consumers simply don’t want to scroll through all those photos or read all the text in the description.
If you aren’t going to invest in a full motion inventory video, then you must provide consumers with a stitched photo inventory video at a minimum. Consider this, the completion rate for a stitched photo inventory video is 70-75%! Think about that. If consumers did NOT like them, would they watch a stitched photo video for an average 1-1/2 to 2 minutes right through to the end?
The fact is, Google identified Inventory Videos as one of the most desired types of video content that today’s shopper is looking for. Dealerships who add inventory videos (stitched photo or full motion) traditionally see a 10-15% increase in total leads (all sources), appointments, shows, and sales. And when incorporated into an integrated video marketing strategy, these numbers can easily double.
Our lives revolve around video already. We watch video reviews, TV, news, Netflix… whatever. We don’t unroll the daily newspaper anymore. Everything is on demand. And that’s what consumers want.
Let me reiterate, just to be clear, I’m not saying that stitched photo videos are the BEST form of video marketing. But, for those dealers who have yet to make the commitment to full motion inventory videos, or who don’t want to pay a service to create them, my suggestion is that stitched photo videos are, at minimum, the most essential inventory marketing piece these dealers can have.
Because the data proves it. They increase VDP Engagement from your shoppers, raise your Time on Site (which Google loves), and they generate more leads than SRP’s and VDP’s that only have still photos. Is that enough reason? I would certainly think so, especially if your dealership is already taking those multiple photos of the vehicle. If that’s the case, stitched photo videos are the most straightforward solution and are very effective.
One last point that should be mentioned here: one of the most important reasons you need an inventory video (stitched photo or full motion) is to get your Value Proposition, Testimonial, and FAQ videos in front of the shoppers at that phase of the buying cycle. There is no other way to get this rich video content in front of the shopper while on the SRP/VDP, other than using the Inventory Video as leverage. This is the most critical time for that video content to be viewed!