strategy

How to Shoot Professional Quality Videos with a Smartphone

When dealerships first start their video marketing programs, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “Will I have to buy an expensive camera?” The answer is no. Just about everyone these days has a smartphone that can shoot HD video. When used properly, the quality of video produced can be exceptional. All it takes is practice.

Most dealers start with inventory walkaround videos and these are probably the trickiest videos to shoot, so that’s what we’ll focus on here.

First, to ensure a good high-resolution (and non-pixelated) video, adjust your camera setting to record video at 1920 x 1080 and 30 frames per second (fps), unless you plan to extract your still images for the inventory from the video.  In that case you may want to utilize 60 frames per second (fps).

Next, invest in a stabilizer. Most smartphones have a pretty good stabilizer built into them today, but they will only make a good video better. This is the merchandising layer for your inventory that most shoppers are going to view, so invest in the tools that you need to provide the best experience for your shoppers that you can. Don’t fool yourself into believing you can walk around the vehicle while holding the smartphone steady in your hand. The result will be a bouncy video that will make your viewers seasick and result in low video completion rates.

A hand-held stabilizer or tripod is better than nothing, but if you want to produce the best quality video invest in a 3-axis gimbal for a couple hundred bucks. It is worth every penny! For top of the line stabilization a 4-axis gimbal is even better, but may run you a couple thousand.

Currently we recommend using a set-up that includes your smartphone, and the DJI OSMO camera/gimbal combo. This is a really cool camera that takes amazing quality video and connects wirelessly with your smartphone, so you can use your smartphone to view what the camera is recording.

You can find a DJI OSMO starter kit for around $500 and depending on how you want to accessorize it, you may spend $700 to $800. This is a small investment that will make your inventory shine!  GoPro also offers some great camera/stabilizer combinations that cost less and produce very good quality videos as well.

Once you have a stabilizer, the next thing you’ll want to address is lighting. Smartphones have small lenses so adequate lighting is critical. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re shooting outdoors, but always position the vehicle so you will not be pointing the camera into direct light, such as the sun.

When you first begin shooting walkarounds, you may want to allow extra time to shoot the entire video two or three times. With each ‘take,’ experiment with different ISO settings, which measure your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. On a sunny day your ISO settings will be lower and on cloudy days your ISO settings will be higher. If you do shoot on a sunny day, avoid shooting midday because that’s when the sun casts the harshest shadows. Instead, schedule shoots for early morning or late afternoon.

For vehicle walkarounds, you want to feature shots panning the side of the vehicle, as well as the front and back so the viewer has a good sense of what the vehicle looks like from all angles. Open the doors and shoot the interior, both front and back.

Then focus on shooting the features that you will use to sell the car, such as the Infotainment system, new tires, safety features, etc. The total length of your walkaround videos can range from one to four minutes. Don’t believe experts who tell you that all videos have to be one minute or less. Though this is probably true for a bad or dull video, if the presentation is informative and entertaining, two, three or even four minutes is okay. There are plenty of dealerships that get 80 to 90 percent completion rates with videos that long, and plenty of dealerships that only get a 50 to 60 percent completion rate with their bouncy and dull one- minute videos.

If you are worried about the audio track for your videos, you can have your photographer shoot your videos and have a data driven audio track added to the video automatically.  If you are adding your own audio while shooting the videos, or if you decide to shoot your walkaround videos featuring a salesperson or spokesperson giving a live presentation, invest in a good noise-cancelling microphone.

Either way you can always go back and replace the audio layer of the video if you want or need to without having to re-shoot the video.  You can even personalize the audio layer of the videos for specific leads (personalized walkarounds) without having to shoot another video, saving you a LOT of time while producing an identical personalized walkaround video to one that was shot from scratch.

Finally, expect that the first few videos you create will probably suck. Don’t be discouraged! Practice makes perfect. Keep doing it and eventually things will click. Pretty soon you will find your own unique style and every walkaround video will become a mini-masterpiece.

What tips do you have for shooting professional quality video with your smartphone?

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?

Video Marketing: The Death of Boring

by Tim James

While I often talk about “basics”, that’s simply because many dealers are still not reaping the benefits of video marketing. But let’s say your dealership is doing video marketing. Perhaps you’ve made a commitment to conduct live video walkarounds for every vehicle. Maybe you’re engaging your customers via personal video e-mail. And perhaps it’s working well. Most people would advise a marketer that is having success to follow the old saying “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Well, sometimes that may not be the right answer.

Consider the “Red Bull” brand. They are widely known for producing some of the most successful viral video marketing pieces ever – including setting a record for the most live concurrent video views, with 9.5 million users watching their space diving video. The brand focused on creating video content that illustrated daring and astonishing feats of athleticism. As a result, it earned the respect and attention of many major brands across the country. But then… they changed their strategy. And everyone gasped.

Why would any company change a video marketing strategy that is considered (and measured) as the bar to achieve? Why change something that is working so well?

We may never know why Red Bull decided to change their strategy away from big time, exciting event videos that consistently went viral. What we do know is what they changed it to: Consistency.

Red Bull decided that producing regular, consistent video content (more quantity) would pay off over producing less video content — even if the videos as a group are not as “epic.” And what did this achieve? In the last year, Red Bull has created 639 videos that each have more than a million views, with a combined total of 1.7 BILLION views, and almost 33 million engagements.

While each individual video itself gets less engagement than one of the EPIC videos, overall the brand is achieving more views and engagement at less expense. Red Bull’s gamble on a consistent stream of video content, over occasional highly produced epic videos payed off.

What does that mean for your dealership?

Creating consistent content – walkaround videos, creative commercials, etc. – will absolutely engage consumers. But it’s not all about following some straight line on the road to your destination. Creativity will pay dividends – it’s a matter of regular content but also doing something to catch attention and set you dealership apart from the competition.

Take a step off the line and be a little adventurous.

Take for example a dealership in Minnesota, White Bear Mitsubishi. They adopted a white bear as their mascot and have created countless commercials and content including a person dressed in a giant white bear outfit. (If you’ve never seen them, they’re great!) But it isn’t the commercial that shot them to stardom, it is the OUTTAKES from the commercial. On their Facebook page alone, these commercial outtakes have had 6.9 million views, over 35,000 likes and over 100,000 shares!

It’s also been syndicated, made into memes and featured on television news reports! Did they expect this kind of exposure by simply posting some silly outtakes from a commercial they did to support their local hockey team? No!

The point is that they continued to produce content. They stepped outside the box. And because of that, the world is now talking about them. Had they never tried, they’d never have succeeded.

Wouldn’t you like to have those kind of results and exposure for your dealership? The only way that’s ever going to happen is to go out and start making video – and never stop.

What to Do with the 5 Must Have Types of Video Content

by Tim James

In my last blog, I shared the five types of video content you must have when beginning your video marketing initiative. To recap, they include: New Model Test Drive, Inventory, Value Proposition, Testimonials and Lead Follow-up.

Hopefully you’ve begun the process of creating this content. Now for the next step!

Effective video marketing requires much more than just content creation. In fact, if used strategically, video can be one of the most effective ways to steal your competitor’s business. However, if no strategy is involved, you will simply be wasting your time.

So, as promised, here are some strategies that can be used to make those videos effective and capture more business.

The keys to transforming your video CONTENT into a video marketing STRATEGY are:

  1. Exposure – If nobody ever sees your videos, they’re pretty useless. Consumers look at up to 24 different touch points in their buying journey. You have to ensure that your videos get on the right touch points to be seen by your buyers at the right time in the buying cycle and without them having to work to find it. The problem is that some of those touch points make it difficult for dealers to get videos onto these sites. Video files are extremely large and most touch points don’t want to host the video. In fact, they would prefer (some even require) that your videos are hosted elsewhere and then just hyperlinked or embedded on their site.

    That is why the right hosting platform is so important. It will automate a large portion of your exposure and make it very easy to integrate your video content with your Sales & Marketing strategies, getting more of your video content in front of your shoppers, at the most critical decision points, which brings me to my next point.

  1. Data Capture – The right hosting platform can be one of your biggest assets when it comes to video marketing. By having your videos all hosted together your hosting company can capture your viewer’s data from more touch points and then you can use that data to communicate with a shopper in real-time via the video. This data can also be utilized to generate real-time alerts via your CRM, no matter what video is being watched, and no matter what touch-point the video is being watched on. Which brings us to personalization.
  1. Personalization – How cool would this scenario be: You send a video email campaign out to your existing CRM database. The data from your existing customers (and all of your abandoned leads) that engage with that email is then captured and matched with your video viewer database from your video host. From then on you receive an alert in your CRM every time someone from your database is back “in market,” because they are watching one of your videos.

    Armed with this knowledge, you can then send personalized videos to that specific customer with various messages. Perhaps the customer has been consistently watching videos of Honda Civics in your inventory. Sending a video message informing them of special offers on Civics would certainly be relevant and give you the fast track to selling them a vehicle before they start shopping at your competition.

    However, there’s a fine line between personalization and creepy. So make sure that the video doesn’t necessarily inform the customer that you KNOW they’ve been shopping. The video message should be something relevant to the behaviors you have seen them make, without crossing that line.

  1. Tracking – Because you’re capturing this data and it’s being matched to buyers, you’ll get a notification that your buyer is watching one of your videos, along with which touch point that they are watching it on. Now you know that right at that second Joe Smith is on AutoTrader, Cars.com, or any other touchpoint out there, and what vehicle(s) videos they are viewing. Wouldn’t it seem like a good idea to call them at that point?
  1. Conquest/Geo-Targeting – This technology allows you to know which site they are viewing your video on and you can also see where (as in physical location) they are watching it. Imagine getting an alert that Joe Smith is watching your video and happens to be on your competitor’s lot at that exact moment. The right hosting company would enable you to know this information, call Joe and in addition queue up a “last chance offer” as a banner ad right there on the video they are watching… all in real-time!

A video marketing strategy isn’t just about the video. It’s a strategy that involves getting MORE of your videos on MORE touch points while capturing MORE data. Then utilizing that data to your advantage to know exactly how and where your customers are watching your videos. Then sending more personalized, relevant and perhaps even deal-saving messages to them in real-time.

There is nothing more powerful than to communicate with your customer exactly at the right time, with the right message, in a way that they know is just for them.

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.

 

A Primer on Video E-Mail Response

So, you’ve decided that you want to send video responses to internet leads, but you don’t quite know where to begin. Well, first, congratulations! You have made an excellent decision that will engage more of your customers, build rapport faster and elicit increased responses. Now to the nuts and bolts of how best to do this:

Technology – The simplest tool you need to create video is probably right in the palm of your hands. You may even be reading this blog on it, right this minute. I’m talking about your phone. These days, most smart phones have pretty impressive video capabilities. On the other hand, perhaps your dealership is willing to invest in a little dedicated video equipment. That is great as well. The biggest thing to understand is, regardless of whether you’re shooting video from your smartphone, or from an expensive camera, you need to ensure that you’re familiar with all of the settings that the camera offers and how to use them. Read your manual. And, In the case of an expensive camera, pay attention primarily to the Exposure Triangle (ISO, Aperture and shutter speed). Understanding these three features, and how to manipulate them, will help you produce great looking quality videos.

Deliverability – I am frequently asked about the best way to deliver videos to a customer via e-mail. Should the video be embedded in the e-mail or linked? Well, embedding a video inside an email sounds cool. But, “sounds cool” isn’t functional because only a few e-mail clients would actually play the embedded video. In addition, many spam filters flag e-mails that contain embedded video as spam. This means that most of your customers won’t even see them. A video is worthless if it doesn’t make it through spam filters. Because of this, your best option is to utilize a video landing page and insert a link to the video which is embedded in the landing page.

Creativity – Creativity is an important piece of any video marketing strategy. First, decide how you are going to utilize your video content. Are you going to build a library of stock video responses to send to leads? Or, are you going to personalize each one? Perhaps a combination of the two? Regardless of which strategy you choose, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. That being said, each one can be effective if it is implemented properly.  Here are some fundamentals that apply universally:

  • Use the word “VIDEO” in the subject line.
  • Use e-mail to support your phone call strategy, not replace it.
  • The focus (i.e. the call-to-action) of the video should be to get the customer to call you.
  • SMILE! There is nothing worse than seeing a video with an unhappy face.
  • Use a video landing page that contains the video you created for the customer along with additional supporting videos such as your dealership’s value proposition video, your salesperson’s introduction video and perhaps even some video customer testimonials. Sell the dealership. Sell yourself. And sell the car. All at the same time.

Hosting – One of the most important pieces of the puzzle for an effective video marketing strategy is where your video is “hosted.” All of your video content, including your video e-mails, should be hosted on the same platform so that you can track the viewing data of your shoppers across all touch-points and match that shopper with their history within your CRM. This also allows you to deliver “viewer specific” content to your shoppers based on their history and/or geo-location. Hosting videos on the same platform allows you to see if the prospect you sent the video email to watches another one of your videos on your website, cars.com, AutoTrader, Facebook Video pages, a blog, through another e-mail, etc.

Make certain that your video hosting platform knows what it is doing and can serve up real-time marketing/re-marketing content, or special offers, all based on rules that you can set, in order to return the best results. You can even geo-target your competitor’s lot. This means that if a specific shopper ends up visiting your competitor, but then decides to come back and watch your video e-mail just one more time (or any of your videos for that matter), you then receive a notice that they are on your competitor’s lot, while your video throws up a last chance offer to entice them over to you, before they buy elsewhere.

I hope this blog provides some useful data on the fundamentals of implementing an effective video marketing strategy. With the right tools and technology, you’ll find that it’s not that complicated at all.