strategy

In Video Marketing, the Car Should Be the Star

Video marketing is becoming more important as consumers increasingly choose this medium over others. That’s exactly why almost every platform has shifted to a video-centric algorithm.

I’ve spoken many times about the types of video a dealership should produce outside of inventory videos to create an emotional connection to your brand, dealership and employees. However, there is one thing I have touched on in the past that needs more attention. It is, in fact, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give:

The car should always be the star!

What do I mean by that? Regardless of the type of video you produce, the sole focus of each is fundamentally to excite and persuade a potential customer to choose your dealership and come in to buy a vehicle. But what about personalized walkaround videos, personal e-mail responses, why buy videos, or customer testimonials?

If you’re creating video content for your dealership and only take one piece of advice from me, let it be this: Make sure that the brand you represent, and/or the vehicle you are trying to sell, is visible in every video.

It’s great to send a personalized video email response to a customer. It’s certainly engaging and puts a face behind the name. But, while the personal video e-mail response will do that, the customer ultimately is considering purchasing something you sell.

Imagine how much more powerful a personalized video response would be if, instead of filming in front a background consisting of a white wall or other desks, it was filmed in front of the exact vehicle the customer inquired about. I’m not talking about a walkaround. Simply a little product placement.  There’s a reason major brands pay big money for product placement in movies, television shows and video games. That’s because it pays off! That Pepsi can that the actor is drinking out of may never be mentioned or referred to — but I can guarantee you one thing… it was noticed.

Make sure that, when making a personal video response, why buy video, or while filming a customer testimonial, the background contains either a vehicle that you sell, the specific one the customer is interested in, or the vehicle they already purchased.

Video content is evergreen in that it doesn’t expire. It can float around the digital universe for an eternity if you want it to. Ensure that as many videos as possible promote not only your store and employees, but also the vehicles that you sell. You never know when someone will come across it and be impacted by it.

Many times, those accidental or unintended video views lead to relationships that span a lifetime. Make sure every piece of video content displays your vehicles – even if that’s not the video’s intent – and you’ll take your engagement and connection to the next level.

4 Reasons Why Your Customers Love Video

For professional marketers across all industries, the top priority for 2018 is to convert leads into customers, according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2017 report. Sound familiar? Most auto dealers I know have the same goal.

In order to accomplish that goal, 48 percent of these professional marketers will be adding video to their marketing strategy this year. In fact, video is their number one strategy, far above social media, email and other traditional forms of marketing.

The reason for this is simple: people love watching videos! Even those die-hard readers out there have to admit there is a time and place for video. There’s a reason why video is the number one type of content consumed globally.

Actually, there are several reasons why video should be your auto dealership’s top marketing priority in 2018:

1) People Trust Video

Trust is an important factor in the decision-making process. How can you get potential customers to trust you? Being likeable helps, but even more important is to have a brand that’s known for integrity and product expertise.

Videos are the ideal method for building a trustworthy brand image. You can post words on your website and broadcast them on radio, but the combination of video and audio delivers a far more powerful impact.

That’s because video conveys messages with both verbal and non-verbal cues. Remember that communication is:

  • 7 percent the words that you say
  • 55 percent body language
  • 38 percent the tone of voice

For consumers, finding a trustworthy brand is an important step along the car-buying journey. Another study found that a user’s positive experience with a video increased brand association by 139 percent.

2) Video Creates an Emotional Response

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.

To differentiate your dealership and generate a powerful emotional response in viewers, create inventory videos with voiceovers that focus not just on the features, but on how owning the vehicle will make the buyer feel.

According to a recent Gallup study, “businesses that optimize this (emotional) connection outperform competitors by 26 percent in gross margin and 85 percent in sales growth.”

3) Video is Memorable

When was the last time you heard someone talk about a great newspaper or digital ad they just saw? When was the last time you heard someone mention a great video they just watched?

The reason why videos are memorable is based on science. People remember only 10 percent of what they see, but 50 percent of what they see and hear. A great video can touch people’s emotions like no other form of media can.

The right combination of music, narration, visuals and motion invites viewers to experience your product and your brand, instead of just hearing about it.

According to the Online Publishers Association, 80 percent of Internet users recall watching a video on a website they visited in the past 30 days. Of that 80 percent, 46 percent took some action after viewing the video, including looking for more information, visiting the website, visiting the company and purchasing a product.

It’s pretty simple: use video to make your brand memorable, and consumers will remember your brand.

4) Video Saves Time

A two-minute video can deliver a lot of information. From the consumer’s point of view, watching a video takes less effort and time than reading text and trying to decipher which product or service is best for them.

Try viewing your Vehicle Display Pages (VDPs) from a car-buyer’s perspective. Do you think most people read all the specs listed there? A consumer may scan the text but unless they are looking for something specific, they won’t remember much.

Static photos don’t convey a lot of information either; only what the vehicle looks like. Video on the other hand, can present rich visuals along with a voiceover that helps to educate and excite the consumer.

In a sense, videos remove the burden of research, reading and decision-making on the part of the consumer. If all of that information can be delivered in a video, people will choose to watch the video, every time.

Is video on your 2018 marketing priority list? Consumers love video, so if you’re serious about giving your customers what they want, give them video.

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.