sales

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.

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. 

Should You DIY or Outsource Your Video Marketing?

By: Tim James

So you’ve decided it’s time to differentiate your dealership from the competition, and that video is the way to do it. Your next probable question is, do you produce, distribute and market the videos yourself, or outsource some, if not all of these functions?

The answer to this question is, it depends. We’ve got dealers who are successfully doing both. In my experience there are three factors to consider when making this decision.

1) Motivation

If your decision to implement video marketing was arrived at rather reluctantly, then you should probably outsource. Motivation requires passion. It requires an understanding of the rewards that will be reaped from putting your time and effort towards this undertaking. It requires buy-in and excitement from your staff. It requires commitment.

I’ve talked to many dealers who spend time waffling over whether they should go the DIY video route. Here’s what I ask them: If not you, who? If not now, when?

Video is not a trend. Remember the music video, “Video Killed the Radio Star?” The actual song was released nearly two years before the music video debuted on MTV in 1981. Hardly anyone heard of the song, but once the video aired, the song became a huge hit. That was 35 years ago. Online marketing video is here to stay, and it’s just a matter of time before it kills the static Vehicle Details Page (VDP).

2) Internal Resources

The second factor to consider is what your internal resources are. Even if you’re highly motivated to launch a video marketing program, someone has to take responsibility. Someone has to take ownership to make sure it’s successful. Someone has to learn how to shoot videos, how to get the videos on the right touch-points and how to measure whether the program is successful or not.

The ‘pros’ of producing videos internally are that you already have staff at your disposal. With an established process, inventory videos should take less than 24 hours to upload.

In addition to inventory videos, it’s important to create value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos and service videos. Internal employees are in a better position to spontaneously capture a glowing customer testimonial video, and may have a better handle on how to sell your dealership’s unique value proposition than an outside entity.

However, when analyzing internal resources, be brutally honest. Are your current employees already struggling to keep up with what’s on their plate? If they are, adding new processes may be too much of a burden.

It’s possible to split the responsibilities between internal and external resources. If your in-house staff is currently tasked with taking inventory photos, it’s not much of a stretch to task them instead with shooting a walk around video. Photos can be easily extracted from video, so there is no need to do both. If you use a lot services company to take your photos, task them with shooting a video in addition to taking your photos.

If you decide to use internal resources, distribution and marketing are two important areas to be addressed. Who will be tasked with ensuring that your videos appear not just on your website, but distributed to as many touch points as possible; including third-party auto shopping sites and social media channels?

Who will be in charge of incorporating video into your digital ad and/or email marketing campaigns? Who will be in charge of collecting viewer data and using that data to increase the relevancy of your videos? Meaning, it’s important to ensure that the right video is shown to the right car shopper at the right time.

Another question to ask when evaluating internal resources is what the turnover rate is in your dealership. Are you confident that your Internet Manager or the staff in that department will be with your dealership for a long time? A potential pitfall of producing videos internally is that you’ll have to constantly train new staff.

3) Dealership Volume

Last but not least, volume is another factor to consider. How many units does your dealership move per month? The greater inventory turnover there is, the greater time investment involved and the greater commitment there must be to the video marketing process.

The good news is, a successful video marketing program will increase your overall sales volume, but for some dealers this can present its own challenges. Kia of Puyallup in Washington saw a nine percent uptick in sales after implementing a video marketing program. How many more units can you handle moving per month?

Now, is everything as clear as mud? Good! The fact is, only you can decide what’s best for your dealership. It’s easy to get excited about the idea of video marketing and want to do it yourself. But it’s important to be able to objectively analyze your motivation level, internal resources and overall volume.

I’ve seen too many instances where dealership salespeople will produce a few videos, upload them to YouTube and don’t see any increase in leads or sales. The dealer points to these paltry efforts and claims that videos don’t work.

Well, of course that level of effort doesn’t work! Producing a few videos is nowhere near the same thing as having a comprehensive video marketing program. It’s like deciding that you want to go into space so you build a shuttle in your backyard. Without an actual space program, with testing, logistics, a launch pad and experts to tell you when and where to go, you’re not likely to get very far.

Outsourcing some (or all) of your video process may involve investing a little more in your merchandising budget than you currently spend, but the end results will be well worth the investment.

No matter which direction you choose to go, the important thing is that you start now — Not next week or even tomorrow. You can start slowly if you need to, but you must start in order to find the process that works best for you and your dealership. The end will justify the means.

Seven Important Video Marketing Statistics

by Tim James

While statistics may seem boring, they are certainly key when choosing a marketing strategy. They can highlight where you should direct your efforts in order to be the most effective and maximize ROI.

There are a ton of statistics floating out there and thousands of articles which – if you don’t believe me – should be sufficient to convince you that video content and marketing is THE most effective medium to engage consumers – both now and for the foreseeable future.

To illustrate this for you, I assembled seven statistics that caught my eye from this published list of 50 Video Marketing Stats to Help You Create a Winning Social Media Strategy in 2017.

I picked the seven I feel will be of particular interest, without overwhelming you with hundreds of statistics.

  1. “Online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020, according to CISCO.”

    What does that mean for car dealers? Unless you have video content on your website, and all the consumer touchpoints, you may find your dealership falls into that sad 20% of internet traffic that misses eight out of ten car buyers.

  2. “73% of marketers plan on increasing their use of videos, according to Social Media Examiner”

    I’m fairly certain there are some pretty smart people among the 73% of marketers that plan to increase video use. If such a large percentage of marketers chooses to increase their video strategies and budgets, they must be finding video an effective medium that produces revenue.

  3. “55% of people consume video thoroughly – the highest amount of all types of content, according to HubSpot”

    If you’re going to create content to market your dealership and your inventory, why not create the best, most effective type of content that your customers (or potential customers) will actually watch? Makes perfect sense to me and, apparently, video is the content type that consumers want.

  4. “43%of people want to see more video content from marketers in the future, according to HubSpot.”

    Again, if consumers want more video content, the only possible reason is that video is how they want brands and businesses to engage with them. It’s much easier, more engaging and memorable to present your message in a way that engages all the consumer’s senses – and that’s what video does (and probably why consumers want it.)

  5. “4X as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than reading about it. 4 in 5 millennials consider video content when researching a purchase decision and 70% of millennials are likely to watch a company video when shopping online, according to Animoto.”
    I lumped these together because these statistics illustrate that consumers want video content, are watching company-produced video content and are using it to make purchasing decisions. That certainly sounds like something I would be interested in if I were a car dealer trying to attract buyers – especially the anonymous buyers who are shopping your inventory online without your knowledge.
  6. “Companies which use videos in their marketing grow revenue 49% faster year-on-year than those which don’t, according to the Aberdeen Group.”

    I think it’s safe to say that any business – including car dealerships – is interested in revenue growth. If having a video marketing strategy in place can increase revenue by 49%, it should certainly be common-sense to implement one. Of course, it’s not just about USING video, but about using it RIGHT with a strategy in place. And what happens when you have a strategy in place…

  7. “Companies which use video in their marketing enjoy 27% higher CTR and 34% higher web conversion rates than those which don’t, according to the Aberdeen Group.”

    I don’t know about you but the whole POINT of having a website, investing in digital marketing of all types, and merchandising your inventory through third-party sites and all the other touchpoints, is to engage the customer and, ultimately, have them engage you back by contacting you or submitting a lead. If using video will increase click-throughs and conversions at that level, why wouldn’t you want it?

I hope these seven points I chose provide food for thought to help prove the point that any time and effort spent implementing a strategic video marketing strategy will produce ROI. And believe me when I tell you that it’s not as hard or time-consuming as you may think. Chances are you have the essentials to get started right in front of you– heck, you may even be reading this blog article with it – a smartphone.

Video marketing can be easy and take little effort and time. Sure, you can also spend more time and money and produce even more slick videos with sets and expensive equipment, if you should desire. The point is that it shouldn’t be a question of whether you SHOULD be doing video marketing, but rather WHEN are you going to start?

Come on – Does Video REALLY sell cars?

by Tim James

Technology has drastically changed the way businesses and auto dealers operate. Hey, think about it. It was not too far in the distant past that we did just about everything via fax machine. Leads came in, financing was secured and, well, just about everything was via fax.

Consider this… there was once a time when radio and newspaper were the dominant media for disseminating messages to consumers. Potential customers read the newspaper every day and listened to the radio as a primary form of entertainment.

Then along came this revolutionary device known as television. At first, it was expensive and limited to the more affluent classes. However, it very quickly grew into almost 100% of households. Then along came TV commercials. Many car dealers asked themselves, “Why do we need to advertise on television? How is that going to sell more cars?”

However, they soon saw the results and eventually came around. Television continues to be a major player in most dealerships’ marketing budgets. Radio focuses on listening, newspaper focuses on reading, while television combines the two, making for a much more impactful message.

Then along came the Internet and these curious things named “websites” popped up. Consumers were fascinated and dial-up connections became AOL’s claim to fame. Remember those discs which used to be packaged in every magazine, arriving in your mailbox every other day?

The Internet continued to advance. Businesses started buying domain names and setting up websites. And dealers asked, “Why do we need a website? How is that going to help me sell more cars?”

Fast forward to today and every dealer has a website, whether they want one or not, courtesy of the manufacturers.

Now let’s visit mobile phones. Remember when phones were in big suitcase looking things? They were that way because they had to be. Slowly, as technology advanced, they became the brick phones, then consumer demand kept making them smaller… and smaller.

However, as bandwidth increased, and streaming video became popular, all of a sudden Samsung came out with a phone that was… BIGGER!  Why? What changed the trend away from smaller and towards bigger? Video. Video is easier and more entertaining to watch on a bigger screen. And other manufacturers followed suit.

Of course, we cannot talk about cell phones without talking about the providers. It wasn’t that long ago when just about every provider had an unlimited data plan. Slowly but surely, as data usage by consumers increased, those unlimited plans were eliminated.

But, you have to ask yourself, “What event precipitated the disappearance of those plans?”

The answer is simple. Data usage spiked. The reason it spiked is simple… video. With only 1 GB of data, you could visit 3,000 webpages, receive 1.5 million WhatsApp messages, upload 4,000 photos, send or receive 10,000 emails, watch 310 minutes of YouTube videos or listen to 160 songs.

Once video became the most popular media, data usage spiked, as it takes up a lot of bandwidth. Rather than clog up their networks, cell providers opted to eliminate unlimited plans and, in some cases, throttle speeds for heavy users.

But now the trend has reversed… again. Cell providers know that mobile users are streaming video. Cell companies with smaller market shares began to differentiate themselves from their larger competitors by, once again, offering unlimited data plans. Slowly, the other smaller carriers fell in line until the largest, Verizon, finally began offering unlimited data on February 13th.

The point is that consumers want… and crave… video content. Technology has reversed itself from small to large, cell phone providers have reversed themselves from eliminating unlimited data to embracing it. All because the media of choice for today’s consumer is video.

Let me state that here again — the media of choice for today’s consumer is video.  So, if you are still asking yourself, “Why do I need video? How is that going to sell me more cars?” Well, that’s like just a few short years ago when dealers were asking, “Do I need a website?  How is a website going to sell me more cars?”

Technology is not going to slow down and wait for us just because we aren’t ready to embrace it. Video IS already the most powerful online marketing strategy for those businesses that have already embraced it.  As with any new technology, there are “Leaders,” and there are “Laggers.” Which side of history do you want to be on?

Video Marketing: Sell, Don’t Tell.

by Tim James

Why are we obsessed with television and movies? Because, just like books, they have the ability to capture our attention and transport us into fictional situations and universes.

Regardless of whether the movie or television show is fiction or non-fiction, this is an engaging way to tell a story that we’re interested in hearing and also seeing. TV, movies and video make stories come alive in ways that connect with our emotions – whether through fear, sympathy, action or drama.

But what if you went to a movie and rather than watching the story of a young farm boy transforming into a hero by blowing up a huge space station, you were presented with only the facts. Just an outline or bullet-points. That wouldn’t be very engaging, would it?

Video marketing is no different. It’s really easy to forget that in order to engage the viewer, you need to connect with them. Telling them how great your product is with facts alone would be like doing a walkaround for a customer, simply reading the information on the window sticker.

That is certainly not very interesting, engaging or creative.

In car sales, salespeople are trained to do vehicle walkarounds by first identifying any attributes of importance to that particular customer. The salesperson then shows and explains any features and benefits in the vehicle which fulfill that individual customer’s interest. To put it plainly, great salespeople tell stories about their products that put their audience “in the story.” They don’t just present facts, they generate a desired emotional response by focusing on “why” a product is needed, not just what the product is, (sell “why,” not “what”).

Effective video marketing – including walkarounds, personal video messages and any other kind of video you can think of – is no different. That’s why so many consumers love Super Bowl commercials. It is also why some commercials make us smile, laugh out loud, or even bring a tear to our eyes. They are effective because, in most cases, they manipulate our emotions to connect those products and services with us on a personal level and make us want to engage.

You can do the same thing with your video marketing efforts and, by so doing, establish more of a bond with the customer. Show your customers that you are interested in helping them with THEIR needs (not just selling them a car) and it will increase the likelihood they will engage with you, or reach out to you, should they simply come across a video on a VDP.

Video marketing isn’t rocket science. BUT you still need to have a strategy to do it effectively. Try changing your focus from trying to talk to everyone, to talking to a single person. Tell your story, the vehicle’s story, or whatever story you wish to relay with your video, as if that person is standing right in front of you. These types of videos resonate with individuals more than any other tactic. Why? Because the viewer feels as if you’re talking directly to them, rather than to some generic mass audience. And those are the types of videos that both engage and connect with the viewer.

Most advertising attempts to connect with as many people as possible. Sure, it may be segmented so that the message is demographically or geographically targeted. But, in the end, people can tell the difference between if you are speaking to them directly, or to a generic, random group of people. Yes, they may intuitively know that some video on some random VDP page wasn’t made specifically for them. But, EMOTIONALLY those videos will have a more impactful influence on them. And that’s the whole point of video marketing. Facts may provide details about your product, but an emotional story will sell it.