VDP

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.

Don’t Use a Band-Aid When What You Really Need Are Stitches!

by Tim James

There is a lot of talk and buzz building about the importance of video marketing – as there should be. Video is quickly becoming the preferred medium for consumers. Don’t believe me? Literally thousands of articles exist on the Internet illustrating the benefits of using video in your marketing.

But for this blog I would like to take a step back for a minute. I’ve talked about using video in emails, virtual reality, etc. However, it’s time to get back to basics, because, despite the power of video, there are still some dealers who don’t even have videos of their vehicles on their websites.

Let’s get real here. You spend tons of money on your website. That website has one major purpose – to show off your inventory so that a car shopper can get emotionally attached to a vehicle and call you. And I am sure you also spend quite a bit of money driving traffic to your website and vehicle display pages. As well as a considerable chunk of change to get your vehicles on third party listing sites in order to influence and engage with car buyers there. Seeing as all this money is spent to market inventory and drive traffic to it in order to do the only thing that matters – sell a car – then it makes sense to ensure the greatest return on your investment by having the very best advertisement for your vehicle on that vehicle display page!

If you aren’t actually taking full-motion videos to merchandize your vehicles, the next best thing is stitched photo videos. Yeah, I have heard the naysayers that don’t see the value of stitched photo videos but, at the same time, are not doing any video whatsoever. Those dealers are missing out on customers. You don’t have to listen to me… but you should be listening to your customers – and here’s a nugget of data for you:

According to data, stitched photo videos on vehicle display pages have an average 75 percent completion rate.

Now let me ask you a question. Would stitched photo videos have a 75 percent completion rate if customers DIDN’T like them? Of course not. Most dealers have about 40 or so pictures of each vehicle along with a written vehicle description designed to provide information while simultaneously creating an emotional attachment to the vehicle. By presenting this same information with a video (even a stitched photo video), you increase both the informational and emotional value of the content, which means you get more leads.

Look, let’s remove our “opinions” from the equation and just focus on the data, which clearly shows that consumers like and are influenced by stitched photo inventory videos. Time and time again we see dealers go from NO video whatsoever to stitched photo videos — and very quickly realize a significant increase in some of their most important KPIs. We have seen122% increases in unique VDP views, 110% increase in total VDP views, 75% increase in return website visitors and lead form conversions of 95% or more. These are actual increases realized by your peers, just by adding stitched photo inventory videos!

If you’re NOT using video, don’t you want these performance increases from your website? And these are results from dealers that simply flipped a switch with their video provider and turned on stitched photo videos. This took no extra effort on their part whatsoever. The pictures are already being taken. The software does the rest.

Nobody ever said video marketing needs to be overwhelming. Sometimes you have to crawl before you can run. But what really matters is that the mere act of crawling will get you farther than doing nothing whatsoever.

There are many other reasons that inventory videos are critical to your Video Marketing Strategy, even if you only use stitched photo videos — particularly when it comes to the data capture and utilization power of inventory videos. The bottom line is that customers want to watch inventory videos and they will have a significant impact on your sales. If you don’t provide it for them, you may find them watching another dealership’s videos. And that probably won’t work out in your favor.

If a Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words, How Many Is a Video Worth?

If you haven’t drunk the video marketing Kool-Aid yet. Or, perhaps are overwhelmed by the thought of creating and distributing videos, it’s time to consider the advantages of having a video marketing strategy.

There was a time in my career when dealers used to complain about having to take multiple PICTURES of a vehicle. Now, however, most dealers include as many as 40 or more for each vehicle. Why? Because buying a vehicle is an emotional purchase and your online merchandising must transfer information while inspiring emotion. By providing more photos (and a good vehicle description) dealers give shoppers more information and help to facilitate them in becoming emotionally attached to a vehicle.

Once dealers understood that with multiple pictures customers would be more interested and they’d receive more inquiries, that’s all that mattered. And then along came video….

Look, technology is rapidly advancing and consumers are advancing with it. If video marketing didn’t benefit you in the only way that matters — which is to help you sell more cars — I’d be the first to tell you not to worry about it. But, the facts are the facts.

An excellent article published on Business2Community shared a wealth of statistics on the benefits of video marketing for businesses in general. While all of them are impressive, here are some highlights from the article that I thought applied specifically to an automobile dealer:

  1. Including video in an email leads to a 200-300 percent increase in click-through rate.
  2. 90 percent of people say that a video is helpful in the decision making process.
  3. Including a video on a landing page increases conversion by 80 percent, while including one on your homepage can increase conversion by 20 percent.
  4. Video ads increase purchase intent by 97 percent and brand association by 139 percent.
  5. An introductory email that includes a video receives an increase click-through rate of 96 percent.
  6. Video increases organic traffic from search engines by 157 percent.

Think about these statistics. The highest converting (as in sold) leads come from your dealership’s website. Why then, would it not be prudent to increase conversions on your home page by 20 percent? Or how about an 80 percent conversion increase on a landing page (like a VDP)? How many leads are you getting per month from your website and inventory? You do the math. These leads are gold waiting to be mined.

And what about your salespeople sending follow up e-mails to customers? Or replying to leads for the first time which get no response at all? Don’t you think that increasing click-through rates by 97 percent by having the customer watch an introductory video tailored specifically for them would increase engagement?

Give your sales staff (or BDC) an edge with video. The stats are there to prove that you’ll interact with more people. Think of it this way. If you had a lot full of customers, but your salespeople weren’t allowed to interact with them until the customer interacted first, you’d probably sell less cars. Of course, you wouldn’t allow that to happen! But that’s what’s happening with all of those people on your virtual lot!

People can be lazy. Most people would rather watch the movie than read the book. Why? Because it’s easier. We enjoy it more. The same applies to your marketing and follow-up efforts.

Want to increase views, conversions and engagement? Send your customers a video. You’ll see how powerful video content is.

And, before I forget, I’d be neglectful if I didn’t answer the question I posed in the title of this blog. According to Forrester Research, one second of video filmed at 30 frames per second (which means that it has 30 pictures per second) is the equivalent of 10,000 words. This means that a 60-second video is worth 1.8 million when it comes to the amount of information that you can deliver with a video, versus static photos. However, you can’t even begin to measure the increased emotional impact that a video will have versus the static photos…and emotion sells.

Want to make an impression on your customer? Seems as if video says – and produces – more than a picture by far. Take advantage of video marketing. The results will speak for themselves.

In Marketing, Consumers Want to Know What is In It For Me

by Tim James

 

People aren’t watching your commercial or video because they want you to sell them your product. They’re watching because they want you to sell them a solution.

In the world of online marketing, oftentimes marketers forget this very basic concept. Think of it as painting pictures when selling. The idea is that you want to tell the consumer why they need a feature, so that the consumer will visualize how each feature will make their life better, easier, more efficient. How it will make them more money, or provide a solution to a need. It’s not uncommon for salespeople to go on and on about the features of a vehicle. It has this type engine. It’s safe. It has Bluetooth, etc. They may as well (and some probably are) read the window sticker to the customer. Great salespeople, however, understand that the customer doesn’t necessarily care about the fact that the vehicle has Bluetooth, unless it’s tied back to how it benefits the customer.

Mr. Customer, one of the great features on this vehicle is that it has Bluetooth functionality. This will allow you to connect your cell phone wirelessly and accept or make phone calls without taking your hands off of the steering wheel. Which will make your commute for you and your family safer.

Consumers may watch dozens of video walkarounds in their car-shopping journey. If you’re doing live video walkarounds of your vehicles, consider this: How would you do a walkaround for a customer right in front of you? Why would you do your live video walkaround for your website and VDP’s any differently?

Create more memorable videos that capture a customer’s attention and sell the consumer on why they need the features of each vehicle. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk about the vehicle’s features. What I’m saying is that you’ll create more powerful videos if you tell the consumer why those features are important and highlight the impact each feature will have on their lives.

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.

Forget MORE Leads. Focus On More QUALITY Leads.

by Tim James

In the world of automotive retail, dealerships are always searching for ways to increase leads. Whether they choose to pursue that goal through third-party lead providers, increase page rankings through better SEO, or various other ways, if there is a customer in their market who wants to buy a car, dealers want an opportunity to earn their business.

When a shopper shows up to the lot, the sales team is trained to engage the shopper and ultimately get the shopper emotionally attached to a vehicle, even if it is not the exact vehicle the shopper was initially inquiring about. In other words, your goal is to make the shopper want a vehicle the dealership has in stock, regardless of which vehicle the customer came in asking about. This is accomplished with the walk around.

This sales technique doesn’t have to be limited to physical customers at your dealership. Online, a good video will accomplish this same emotional process. A video is the best way to engage a consumer on your VDP Pages and showcase your vehicle. This highly visual medium allows you to deliver the most information while also selling your dealership and the vehicle at the same time.

Getting the consumer emotionally attached to the vehicle and MAKING them want a vehicle you have versus simply HOPING they will want a vehicle you have is how you produce the MOST & BEST leads you can get. They are more likely to re-engage after their initial communication (answer your phone call or respond to your email); more likely to set an appointment; more likely to show for that appointment and they are more likely to purchase.

This whole process is less about the information you have available on your site and more about how you deliver the information.  You could have tons of information and all kinds of pictures, but today’s consumer wants their content delivered via video…which is a “win/win” because with a video you can deliver the information and “sell” the vehicle at the same time.

Make good use of video and ensure that you have full and complete vehicle descriptions. You end up with more quality leads which should translate into increased responses and more productive engagement (less haggling over price), leading to the ultimate goal of increased sales.

Sell the Car, Not the Price

by Tim James

Ever since the first car dealership opened, dealers have understood the emotional impact of “the walkaround.” As consumers move through the buying cycle, they get to a point where they don’t just want, but need to experience a vehicle that they are interested in. In the past, most consumers would visit the dealership in the evenings, when the lot was closed to avoid “being sold.” But driven by their need to experience the vehicle in person, they still came, day and night.

Well, believe it not, nothing has changed! Consumers still have an uncontrollable need to experience a vehicle first hand as they move through the buying cycle. The only difference is that the initial experience takes place online via a Vehicle’s Detail Pages (VDP Pages). Imagine, however, if a dealer could put one of their vehicles (or their entire inventory) in every mall, venue and every other busy consumer traffic area in their PMA, at no additional cost. Now image if they could have a salesperson at each and every location to talk to customers 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week.

While placing a vehicle and a salesperson everywhere in the physical world isn’t practical for dealers, it’s absolutely possible in the digital world. In this age of online shopping, one of the most important assets that any dealer has is their inventory’s VDP. Chances are very good that car buyers who land on a dealer’s vehicle display page are very close to buying. Every vehicle in their inventory should thus be displayed to its best advantage, and on as many potential touch-points that a car buyer is likely to visit as possible.

Let’s face it. Most of your in-stock vehicles are competing for consumer interest. Many dealers choose to attract consumers via low prices, sacrificing profit for the sale. Smart dealers understand that high quality, visually appealing inventory marketing will get a shopper emotionally attached to a vehicle. It will motivate that shopper to want to visit their store to test drive “their” car long before any “price” motivation will. The fact is, once a shopper begins forming an emotional attachment to a vehicle, you no longer have to be the lowest price to motivate the shopper to visit your store.

Nothing can generate a higher level of emotional attachment than a quality video presentation of your inventory, nothing. The best part of the equation is that your shoppers actually want to see videos of the vehicles they are considering. In fact, video content is quickly becoming the media of choice for consumers. 85% of automotive shoppers stated that they watched a video of a vehicle during their car buying experience, and half of them (49%) take action immediately after watching. While dealers are sure to have nice websites, great pictures of vehicles, attractive newspaper ads with calls-to-action, many neglect the fastest growing type of marketing (and the type of marketing that will have the biggest emotional impact) – video.

Think about it like this, your online advertising should be focused on motivating a shopper to “visit your dealership”, not “buy a vehicle”. Price based motivation is asking the shopper to commit to a purchase before they’ve ever even visited your store or test driven the vehicle. Meanwhile, a video’s power is inherent in its ability to involve multiple senses when displaying the vehicle to an online car shopper. Having high-quality videos will allow shoppers to experience your inventory at the highest level possible online, making it more likely for a shopper to become emotionally attached to a vehicle and have an uncontrollable need to visit your dealership to take a test drive.

Having the ability to then place that video on multiple touch-points throughout the buying cycle increases the odds that the consumer finds, views and chooses your vehicle over your competitor’s, regardless of whether it’s the lowest price.

Improve the quality of your inventory marketing to potential customers and you will see more interest, higher conversion, more profit per sale and a faster turn rate. Sell the car, not the price.