video

Master Video Fundamentals Before Going Social

When I talk to dealers about video marketing, one question I get asked a lot is “What about social?” In particular the marketing folks want to know what types of videos they should make to post on their social media platforms, which social media platforms drive the best results and how best to engage their social audiences.

These are all valid questions for advanced video marketers. But if you are just starting a video marketing strategy these are the wrong questions to be asking.

The primary goal of your video marketing strategy is to increase lead conversions on your website. For the first six months to a year, that is all you should be focusing on.

A secondary goal for your video marketing strategy may be to drive more customers to your website, or increase engagement with your social media followers. But you should not even attempt these goals until you have mastered the fundamentals of your primary goal.

After all, what is the point of driving traffic to your website if you are not converting visitors to leads once they get there?

Let’s say you post a funny video on your Facebook page and someone clicks through to your website. When they get to your website, all they see are static photos and Vehicle Details Pages (VDPs) with text only. That’s not what this person is expecting! You caught their attention with video, you got the click-through with a video, but when they get to your website there’s no videos!

When it comes to video marketing, I always recommend wading in slowly. Start with your inventory videos and master the fundamentals before you do anything else. That’s not to say the branding and fun stuff isn’t important. It is, but the goal of those videos is different than the goal of inventory videos.

With inventory videos, your goal is to present your inventory to a potential buyer just like the best salesperson in your store would. Your goal is to create emotional desire in a car shopper, so they take the next step and reach out to you.

How to Master Inventory Videos

Inventory videos are powerful because they have the potential to change a car shopper’s mindset. Most consumers visit your website hoping that your dealership has the vehicle they want. A dynamic inventory video can change that paradigm to make the consumer want and take mental ownership of a vehicle that you already have.

This paradigm shift is backed up by metrics. Overall engagement on a VDP featuring a live walkaround video jumps an average of 600 percent versus engagement on a static VDP. This translates into an approximate 30 to 35 percent increase in leads, according to feedback from our dealer customers.

The first step in mastering inventory videos is to come up with a process for creating them. You could assign someone internally, or use an outside lot services company or a video production company. Come up with a template for what should be included in each video, such as:

  • Front, side and rear view shots of the vehicle
  • Interior shots of the dashboard and infotainment systems
  • Interior shots of the front and rear passenger seats
  • Close ups of tires
  • Shots of special features, e.g. roomy trunk, video screens in the back, back-up cameras

Additionally, try to add one or two “why buy here” value proposition statements, such as promoting your fast and easy financing options, or your no-hassle shopping experience.

Be sure to add in banners promoting special offers such as 0% down or cash back. Finally, don’t forget your phone number and a call to action! A car shopper should be able to click on the video and have the option to submit a lead, or if they are using a mobile device, click to call.

Once you have mastered the process of creating your inventory videos, the next step is to make sure these inventory videos get exposure.

In addition to posting inventory videos on your VDPs, distribute them on third-party sites such as Autotrader and Cars.com. Use them in your lead follow-up process and in email marketing campaigns. And yes, you can even post them on your Facebook page.

The next step in mastering inventory videos is to make sure you host your videos on a platform that can collect and use data. Technology exists right now that allows your dealership sales team to get real-time alerts every time someone watches one of your videos. Many times that ‘someone’ can be matched to a profile in your CRM.

Imagine getting an alert that a customer you haven’t spoken with in two years is on Autotrader watching one of your inventory videos. Imagine getting an alert that one of your regular service customers just watched an inventory video on Facebook. You have instant leads and you have their contact information!

There’s no more relevant time to call these prospects than right now, while they are engaged with your brand.

Once you have mastered the art of creating inventory videos, getting them seen and incorporating user data into your lead follow up and marketing processes, you will see an increase in your website and phone leads. Only then should you start thinking about additional types videos that you can create.

In addition to inventory videos, I typically recommend value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos and service department videos. These should all be displayed prominently on your website but they can also be posted on your social media platforms and used in email marketing and lead follow up campaigns.

But first, master the basics. Inventory videos are the best way to turn website visitors into leads, and these should be your primary focus.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Engaging video needs to be quality video. Whether you’re making it with an iPhone, or a $10,000 camera, it’s important to make sure that a viewer (or viewers) can clearly make out what is being recorded. As personalized video and social media content such as Facebook Live are becoming increasingly popular, there’s one thing many aspiring video marketers fail to consider… 

Sound quality. 

The fact is, it doesn’t matter how expensive (or inexpensive) your video equipment is, almost all tend to lack microphones that are of sufficient quality to really isolate the speaker. Think about it. When you’re doing a video walkaround for a customer, consider all the challenges you face. You’re probably doing it on the dealership’s lot, which means all sorts of background noise is going on: other customers; people paging each other; service department noise; weather-related noise (like wind); and, since most dealerships are roadside, you probably have some traffic noise too. All of these background sounds can easily affect the sound quality of the video and make it difficult for a customer to hear you clearly, which makes the video less engaging –despite how great the video quality may be.  

 The same issues can arise with personalized email videos, or any type of video content. Your showroom isn’t going to go silent just because you want to record a personalized video email to a customer. It just won’t! There are phones ringing, salespeople talking, customers milling about, perhaps kids in the service waiting area, or even background music playing. All of these things can also affect the overall quality of the video and detract from the professionalism you wish to present to your customer.  

 My advice is to invest in a great microphone. Regardless of the equipment you use to make the video, there are many choices for external microphones that will work with it and it doesn’t have to be expensive. By simply adding an external microphone to your smartphone, DSLR or video camera, you can greatly increase the clarity and engagement of your video. Nothing is worse than creating a super video only to find out later that some car horn in the background, or other noise, interferes with your voice.  

If you’re the type that makes videos on your own (i.e.: selfie video emails or walk arounds), then a simple corded lapel microphone should be sufficient to adequately capture your voice and minimize ambient noise, while not interfering with your video production. If you have someone filming you, whether that’s with a smartphone or DSLR, consider upgrading to a wireless lapel microphone. This allows the camera to be further back, hides microphone wires and minimizes ambient noise, while nicely capturing your voice.  

Go ahead and keep making those videos. People love watching them… but they also want to hear what you’re saying. Follow this advice and you’ll find that your video quality increases and your audience is more engaged. 

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?

[VIDEO] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 2: Is It Right For Me

In this series of video blogs, Flick Fusion COO Tim James shares Google’s 5 auto shopping moments that every dealership should know and how to take advantage of those moments to lead customers to your dealership.

[Video] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 1: Which Car Is Best

In this series of video blogs, Flick Fusion COO Tim James shares Google’s 5 auto shopping moments that every dealership should know and how to take advantage of those moments to lead customers to your dealership.

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

Those of you with spouses have probably heard this at least once: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!” Whether at home or at work, miscommunication can cause plenty of problems.

Have you ever misinterpreted the tone of an email that a colleague wrote to you? Perhaps you thought a tersely written email meant that person was angry, but in fact, they were just rushed. Or someone joked about something in an email, but you took offense because you thought they were serious?

Miscommunication is so common that it’s one of the main reasons why some dealerships require BDC staff and salespeople to use templates for customer communications. And it’s why some CEOs are issuing video recommendations to employees, instead of email memos.

Videos allow people to see how you’re saying something, leaving little room for error in the interpretation of what you’re saying. In fact, videos are so effective at expressing personality and tone that it’s become trendy for job seekers to send video resumes to prospective employers.

Let’s face it: a public perception still exists that in general, car dealers are not humble, caring or honest. One bad experience with an overeager or aggressive salesperson is all it takes to forever sour the car-buying experience for a consumer.

As a dealer, how do you change this perception? You could try creating marketing slogans and post them on your website, in ads and in emails, but words by themselves don’t have much impact. Online consumers are very adept at scanning information to find out what’s important to them; which isn’t necessarily what the dealership thinks is important. We all have the ability to ignore or visually ‘tune out’ messages right before our eyes.

When a consumer watches a video, however, it’s not as easy to tune out the message. Videos offer a multimedia experience with live action, sounds and sights, so the entire message is absorbed. Retention rises too. Video viewers retain 80% of what they hear and see in videos, versus just 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they see.

This is partly due to the fact that so much of our communication is non-verbal. Think about your own experiences. Have you ever had a customer service experience and were put off by the customer service rep, even though they were saying all the right things? Perhaps you believed the person wasn’t truly sincere. Or perhaps their tone started getting defensive, leaving you with the impression that they didn’t care about your problem.

When we communicate, we pick up multiple cues from facial expressions, gestures and tone. This happens largely on a sub-conscious level, but the end result–the emotion we feel–is very conscious.

If you’re looking for ways to improve customer perception and communications at your dealership, try creating the following videos.

  • A value proposition video that features a dealer or other company spokesperson showing, not telling, what your dealership has to offer
  • Vehicle walk around videos that generate emotion and excitement about your inventory
  • Customer testimonial videos that feature real customers saying nice things about your staff; these do a lot to alleviate car shoppers’ fears about a bad experience
  • Lead follow up videos from salespeople that engage car shoppers; if the salesperson comes across as likeable, these greatly increase the probability of response
  • Service videos that feature service staff help to build trust and the perception of honesty

Of course, you have to make sure that your videos are conveying not just the right message, but the right tone. When you first start to create videos, ask as many people as you can for their objective and true opinions. Don’t get emotionally attached to the videos you’ve created, and don’t get defensive if the feedback from others isn’t what you want to hear. The last thing you want to do it spend time and money creating videos that turn prospective customers off.

Video communication is powerful, so use it wisely. More than two million years of evolution has equipped most humans with the ability to accurately sense insincerity, arrogance and plain old hogwash. So say what you mean, and if you don’t truly mean it, don’t say it.