touchpoints

Winning the Marketing Game Is About Being Consistent

by Tim James

Baseball players are famous for their superstitions and rituals when performing. Some will refuse to shave. Some will wear their hat backwards. Some will wear the same pair of underwear every game. Do they know if those superstitions or rituals affected the outcome of the game? No. Does it matter? No. Why? Because the players are doing the same thing, in every game, the same way, every time. When asked if he had any superstitions, legendary baseball player Babe Ruth replied, “Whenever I hit a home run, I make sure that I touch all four bases.”

Why is that statement so significant?

Because Babe Ruth understood that it’s not the home run that matters, but consistently applying the fundamentals of baseball. He could hit a zillion home runs, but if he didn’t touch all four bases, he would be called out every time and that home run wouldn’t matter. In other words, if he was not so consistent in his game, we would not know him as one of the greatest baseball players of all times, but rather as one of the most famous failures.

Consistency in your inventory marketing is the same. While a baseball field may only have four bases which players need to touch to ultimately score, the digital world we live in has grown into a field with many, many bases a consumer can use to ultimately end up at home plate and buy a vehicle. If you’re not diligently consistent in your marketing, and fail to ensure that you have a strong presence regardless of which base a consumer steps on, you may just find that they end up on someone else’s field.

But it’s not just having a presence there that makes a consumer continue around the bases on YOUR field, it’s connecting with them – giving them a reason to continue to round those bases. Emotion is what drives a consumer to lust for, desire and want to come touch, feel and drive that vehicle at your dealership. Video creates an emotional impact over and above pictures or the written word. Video builds trust in the brand, in the dealership in the salesperson and, most importantly, the individual vehicle.

You can’t capture a car shopper’s emotion unless you’re present AND have the most engaging content at each and every touchpoint. There is no better way to capture the emotions of your consumers than video content of your vehicle, dealership and salespeople, consistently – over every touchpoint – every time.

Engaging content will motivate the customer to continue past first base, then second, third and, ultimately all the way to your dealership. By doing so, you’ll ensure that every time the ball goes over the wall, it actually ends up as a homerun… and not an out.

One Isn’t Always the Loneliest Number That You’ll Ever See

by Tim James

In determining the effectiveness of video marketing, perhaps the metric most used is views – How many views did this video get? In fact, in a recent study by Yahoo-owned video platform Brightroll, 31 percent of polling respondents from over 70 ad agencies in the UK, placed completed views as the most important metric, followed by brand lift (28 percent) and a four-way tie between inventory quality, conversion, click-thru-rate and sales impact, which all came in at 8 percent. Hold on a minute. Does this mean that these marketers care about video views almost four times more than sales?

In video marketing, too much focus can be placed on how many people saw a video when, in fact, what matters is did someone watch the video and then buy the car. Yes, it’s important to have your videos on every touchpoint a buyer may visit in the purchasing process. It’s also important that your video is engaging enough that that individual watches it and decides that YOUR car is the one they want, versus the many others they may encounter. But make no mistake, car buying is an individual journey.

Our world is so noisy today that consumers go out of their way to be alone. Don’t believe me? Try to visit mostexclusivewebsite.com then come back to this blog. I dare you.

It didn’t take long for you to come back, did it? You know why? That website only allows a single visitor on its servers and then only for 60 seconds at a time. Once a person gains access, they can then leave a short message on the site to prove that they were there. Sounds kind of silly, right? I mean, why would someone visit that site? The fact is that so many people are trying to access the site that it cannot keep its servers up. According to the Washington Post more than 300,000 people have tried to access the website while only 55,000 have been successful.

People crave individual experiences. They want to feel special. Creating relevant and engaging video content can accomplish that. It can warm the customer up to your dealership as they make their way along whatever path they’ve chosen. On high funnel touchpoints, you want customers to find videos about your dealership’s value propositions and why they should consider purchasing from you, service and sales overviews, along with customer testimonials. These will start making an impression on your customer and plant a seed that you are the “good guys” and that they can trust you. As they move further down the funnel, they’ll be watching your inventory videos while searching for a vehicle. Once they are low funnel shoppers, that’s when you want to treat them like they are the only lead, the only customer, and the most important person in the world, by serving up personalized lead responses, vehicle walk arounds and appointment confirmation videos.  Video also gives you the ability to serve up custom content via your video players, throughout the entire buying cycle and specific to an individual shopper’s behavior and viewing pattern.  This makes the overall experience even more relevant and more personal to each shopper.

Stop thinking of video marketing as a numbers game. There is only one number that matters –and that is the customer that is watching your video… right… now.

Live Video Walkarounds: Are they Worth the Effort?

by Tim James

While most forms of digital marketing offer some value to dealers, the one constant has – and always will be – the better your inventory merchandising, the higher your sales.

In the digital world, your merchandising takes place on your VDP Pages, making your VDP Pages one of (if not “the”) most valuable pieces of digital real estate that you have today. The goal of the merchandising on your VDP Pages is to get a consumer emotionally attached to the vehicle, to take “mental ownership.” Or, at a minimum, to generate enough interest that the shopper will come to your store and take a test drive. If you can’t obtain one of these goals, then you hope that your presentation of the vehicle at least had a large enough impact on the shopper that they will remember one of your vehicles as they continue their shopping and bounce from site to site.

This is why you invest the time and/or money into your current digital marketing strategy: You have a website that gets good traffic and that has good flow to the Vehicle Details Pages (VDPs); pay 3rd parties for VDPs on their sites; have high quality photos for each vehicle on its VDP; use a good quality vehicle description for each vehicle; and even have all kinds of “conversion widgets” and such on your VDP Pages. You know how important your VDP Pages are. And you currently invest a lot of time and money into your efforts to have the “best” presentation of your vehicles as possible on those VDPs.

Now, up to this point, I haven’t told you anything that you don’t already know. But let’s consider this:

• People retain 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and an amazing 70% of what they see & hear combined. This means that a shopper is at least 40% more likely to form an emotional attachment and remember “your” inventory if they are able to watch videos of the vehicles on your VDPs.

• More than 85% of today’s consumer’s say that they prefer product video over photos and a text based product description. Shoppers are significantly more likely to spend a greater amount of time on your VDPs — and more likely to return to YOUR website at a future time — if they know that they can receive their content the in the form in which they desire to receive it…video.

• Live Inventory Videos average 600% more engagement than stitched photo videos. This means that having a stitched photo video is better than not having a video at all; however, you will receive a significant boost in engagement if you are utilizing live inventory videos. This IS the best presentation of your vehicles (merchandising) possible for your VDPs.

The actual process of shooting a live inventory video only takes around 2 to 5 minutes per vehicle. Yes, it may take you a little longer in the beginning, when you first start shooting the videos, and before you are comfortable with the process. But, after you’ve shot a few, you should easily be able to get your process down to the 2 to 5 minute range. The actual process of shooting a live video is hardly an overwhelming investment of time, especially when considering the engagement and conversion benefits.

What DOES take time is everything else. You have to manually upload the video to a “host” (or multiple hosts), rename every file as you upload it, and then manually process the video URL to each location that you would like for the video to play. I’m sure there are plenty of you reading this who remember the days that this same “time consuming” process was at one time true for your photos. Shooting the photos was the easy part, but to get your photos to all of the various digital touch-points, you had to manually rename them and upload them touch-point by touch-point. Instead, many dealerships would either choose to not keep their photos current on the various digital touch-points, to outsource the photo process to a 3rd party, or would hire an in-house staff to do nothing but shoot and upload photos all day. As time progressed, and as dealerships started to realize how important the photos were to the merchandising process, more and more started investing in technology that made the upload and distribution process fast and easy. They still had to have someone shoot their photos, but that’s all they had to do and technology took care of the rest.

The great news is that this same technology now exists for your videos. All someone has to do is shoot the video (2 to 5 minutes) and technology will automatically name, upload, and distribute the videos for you (and often in real-time). In fact, you can even have your photographer shoot the video for you at the same time they are shooting their photos. And if you aren’t comfortable with your photographer talking about the vehicles while shooting the videos, then technology can even automatically add the audio layer to the video as it is being automatically uploaded. And you could even have one of your Sales or BDC Team members (from the comfort of their own office) re-record the audio layer of the video and instantly replace the automated audio layer on all of the digital touch-points (in real-time), if so desired. No more wind or highway noises, no airplanes flying overhead, and no worrying about the weather.

Even greater news is that these same videos can then also be utilized by your sales team and/or BDC team for personalized walkaround videos for lead responses. Instead of the time consuming, over and over process of shooting one video that would be seen by one person, of checking out the keys, finding the vehicle on the lot (in the heat, cold, rain, snow), pulling the vehicle out of the line, shooting the video, parking the vehicle, walking back inside, checking in the keys, uploading the video to a “host”, grabbing the URL and sending the video URL out in an email…the sales or BDC team member can now simply pull up the existing video (being used on the VDPs), re-record a personalized message as the audio, add background music (if desired), click save, and email out…all in less time than it takes to check out the keys and find the vehicle on the lot.

We used to find all kinds of excuses for why we didn’t keep our VDPs (across all of the digital touch-points) updated each day with 25, 35, 55+ photos. Excuses ranged from “it’s too much work” to “it costs too much money (if outsourced).” And I’m sure you can find plenty of new excuses as to why you aren’t shooting live videos for your VDPs and using walkaround videos for your lead responses…but the fact is that “it’s too much work,” is no longer a valid excuse, especially when you consider the impact that it will have on your sales.

Car Shopping: The Dating Game

by Tim James

For many car owners, their vehicles become an extension of their lives, a partner, and something that they have a true emotional bond with. In most places, cars are necessary to life. We use them to get to work, visit friends and family and take our kids to football practice. According to an article on the Tempo blog, a study done by Harvard Health Watch found that, on average, a person spends 37,935 hours driving during a lifetime – over 4 years of their lives. It’s no wonder that consumers build an emotional connection with their vehicles.

A time will come for nearly every consumer when a new vehicle is necessary. Perhaps because of an expanding family, an accident, or the fact that the age and condition of a current vehicle necessitates it. These can be emotional times for people, and can be an important thing for us to consider in the buying process — the fact that some consumers have emotional attachments to their current vehicle and are looking for their next “partner,” if you will.

Brands lure consumers to their vehicles with original content designed to generate interest in their make. It is then your job to take that and transition it to interest in a specific vehicle. Think of it like speed dating. The car lots of the world are now represented online with every dealership of every make representing potential suitors. However, few do a good job of representing their potential “dates.” The consumer wades through countless profiles and descriptions trying to find their next “partner.” The process becomes frustrating as the consumer’s search narrow in, become more specific, yet they are met with numerous profiles that all virtually look the same. You have the same 35 to 50 photos as everyone else, the same list of features, and the same buttons with the same calls to action as everyone else. Why should the shopper choose you?

The point is that successful dealers make it as easy as possible for a car shopper to start the love connection with THEIR car by telling the vehicle’s story through images, narratives descriptions and, most importantly, a good unique video.

But that’s not all. Let’s take the dating analogy again — Perhaps match.com isn’t the ideal place for you to meet that next special someone. It’s certainly not the only dating site in existence. To position your dealership’s inventory to have the best chance of success, you need to make sure that you are on as many dating sites as possible. Ensuring that your car has the best chance of getting chosen involves developing a strategy that reaches the right shopper on the right touch-point at the right time in their buying cycle. With the right strategy, you will appeal to the fundamental emotional relationship that most shoppers are searching for (it’s not just a car to them) and successfully match more shoppers with their next “partner” than you will by simply trying to motivate the shopper with “price”.

Why Video Is Important For Your Marketing Strategy

by Brian Cox

When businesses ponder how to increase their presence on search engines, they typically turn to SEO strategies. Content marketing has always been a large part of any SEO strategy. It’s a given that the more fresh, relevant and unique content you produce, the better chance your online properties will have of showing in search engine results. According to an article by Search Engine Land, in the past, when considering an SEO plan, the primary type of content marketers thought of was text. As consumer behavior changes, however, visual content is becoming increasingly important.

According to the article, a Google study that tracked consumers’ points of influence on their path to purchase, found that 64 percent of consumers were influenced by video they saw on YouTube – 2/3 of which were “how-to” and “product visualization” type video. These videos match the content type that auto dealers use. In fact, according to the study, 60 percent of consumers reported that online digital marketing factored into their path to purchase. And a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that experts are now advising marketers to move 10% to 25% of TV ad dollars to online video.

Today’s vehicle shoppers have many decisions to make along the path to purchase. A consumer who visits an online shopping portal will typically be presented with a list of vehicles that meet their criteria in order of price, lowest to highest. They will then start filtering out vehicles from those results based on such things as mileage, condition, vehicle descriptions and pictures and video provided by the dealer. Vehicles with no (or poor) descriptions or ones that lack photos and video have a greater likelihood of being passed over. Vehicle description pages that contain rich details including images and video stand a far greater chance at seeing customer engagement. It’s hard to believe that anyone would disagree with this very basic assessment.

The same idea translates to search engine optimization. The goal, obviously, in any search engine optimization strategy is to be found whenever a consumer makes a relevant search. According to Search Engine Land, however, that’s not what the real goal is (or should be). Simply showing up does nothing except satisfy a marketer or SEO practitioner’s ego. The true goal is click-through-rate. The more opportunities you can provide a customer who is searching for a vehicle to find your dealership and/or vehicle (i.e. the more times you appear within a given search), the greater the likelihood will be that they will click on a link to your content versus your competition. To accomplish this, you must have a presence on all the consumer touchpoints in every medium possible – video, images and text – thereby offering more content for a search engine to crawl and deliver within the results.

The bottom line is that consumers are using more resources than ever before when shopping for a vehicle. Ensuring that the type of content a consumer wants to see is present on every touchpoint is essential to increase web traffic and consumer engagement. Don’t get me wrong, simply throwing money into video marketing is not what I advise. You would be wise to invest in a comprehensive video strategy that maximizes the exposure, quality and effectiveness of your video content. It will make the difference and allow you to dominate all of your online marketing channels.

In Marketing, New Trumps Used Every Time

by Brian Cox

Bob visits a website searching for a new vehicle. As he filters down to the model he is considering, he is confronted with a seemingly endless list of stock photos with similar prices. Frustrated at the lack of information, he leaves and attempts his search on another site just to get the same results.

Suzy is in the market for a used vehicle. After comparing vehicles by prices and mileage, she finds one that fits her needs and her budget. The vehicle doesn’t have a very good description, however, and she has questions about the vehicle’s condition. She fills out the form and asks for more pictures of the vehicle. All she gets in return are repeated invites to schedule an appointment while being bombarded with phone calls from salespeople.

Joe is shopping for a new vehicle also. Joe is a very meticulous person. His house is always in order. His DVDs are alphabetized. He refuses to buy anything used. He knows that he wants the new Mustang. He also knows that he wants it to have as few miles as possible and, if feasible, to never have even been test-driven. He visits his local dealer’s website and all he sees are stock photos. He resigns himself to the fact that he is going to have to physically go to the dealership and inspect vehicles, which he does not have time for.

In all of these situations, the online shopper could have converted to a lead or sale. The friction point that stopped the customer from converting was very simple – lack of information. Humans are all different in their peculiarities, but do have one thing in common; they want to get the best value for their dollar. Had any of these dealerships taken the time to enhance their VDPs with dozens of photos and videos, these shoppers may have taken the next step towards the sale. Instead, they are left with frustration and no information.

Imagine if, while searching, Bob had encountered a listing that had actual images or video of a real vehicle in stock at a dealership. Or if Suzy had seen a video walkaround of the used vehicle that caught her eye. Maybe actual images and video of a specific new Mustang would have allayed Joe’s concerns of its condition and he would have reached out to the dealer to start the buying process.

Sadly, many dealers fall short of what is optimum – they have their DMS push out their inventory the instant it’s stocked and then distribute it to all of the touchpoints a consumer may visit. When a consumer finds that vehicle they are poorly served and presented with a VDP that has no description, images or video, and sometimes not even a price.

Most dealers recognize the impact that great image and video marketing can bring to their used vehicle inventory marketing. They know that the faster they get those images and video onto their VDPs, the faster they will see interest by consumers, and the faster vehicles will sell. The one thing that most of the automotive industry neglects, however, also happens to be the thing they have the most of: new cars. Perhaps dealers feel that there is no point taking pictures and video of each individual new vehicle as they are all the same at every dealer. The fact is that marketing your new vehicles may prove to be more important than marketing your used vehicles.

Including images and video of actual vehicles will make you stand out from your competitors in search results on the many consumer touchpoints.

Most dealers have 4-5 new cars for every single used car in inventory. Chances are that your competitor isn’t taking pictures or video of their new cars either. We all know the value SEO has in gaining new customers. By marketing your new vehicles with descriptions, images and video, you stand out from your competitors and increase your content within search engines by 4-5 times! This could easily help you dominate search engine results and every other touchpoint a consumer visits.

If you are not shooting photos and video of your new car inventory, you essentially have no marketing for the largest segment of your inventory. Start taking pictures and video of your new vehicles and you’ll achieve maximum exposure, which will lead to more leads and, ultimately, more sales.