Online Video Is the Future of Marketing

When it comes to online marketing a lot of the focus is on mobile, search, and social media marketing, but the real giant of online marketing is video. Video touches every part of your marketing campaigns. Whether it’s mobile video, video on social media, video in search, video in your online classifieds, or even video on your website—the key is video.

You simply can’t avoid video these days if you want to connect with consumers:

There are a myriad of other statistics I could use to show the importance of online video, but I’m sure you’ve heard stats like this before. The question isn’t Why should auto dealers use video? It is How should auto dealers video to connect with more customers and sell more vehicles?

To help us understand video marketing and how dealerships can use it, we spoke with two experts in using video to market auto dealerships: Phillip Aime, Senior National Director of Automotive Sales and Motorsports for Charter Media and Phil Sura, VP Automotive for UnityWorks.

Video Content

The first thing we asked our experts was “What type(s) of video content is the most effective for dealers to connect with potential buyers?”

Phillip Aime tells us that “Potential buyers are seeking information. Video is the medium that’s most effectively reaching them. The best content categories are ‘Walk Arounds’, ‘How to Build Your Car’, ‘Model by Model Comparisons’, and ‘Virtual Test Drives.’ In addition, any information that helps guide customers through the Path to Purchase is valuable.

All buyers today are researchers first. Video lets them easily find the information they are looking for in a familiar, engaging format. That’s going to be effective, regardless of the topic or category. Some of the things that we do know is that with brand loyalty down, there is great opportunity for model by model comparisons and virtual test drives. Also with such great opportunities in service, educational repair videos really see some great interest. And one of my personal favorites for 2015: Leasing vs. Buying. I think that’s going to be a hot topic going forward.”

Phil Sura agrees with the importance of walk-around videos. Explaining that “The starting point that has been available for ten years is the creation of a VIN walkaround of the dealer’s entire new and used car inventory. It is critical that the content be published to a YouTube channel for organic visibility, the website, AutoTrader and I would also encourage the dealers to send the virtual walkaround to the prospect. There is presently a debate on not if a dealer should be involved with this product, but if they should do their own walkarounds or simply use the stitched photos. I would answer both are good options depending on the company being used and the ability of the dealership to deliver a solid product.”

Sura also cautions dealers that “when evaluating an outside company, look at actual examples to see the quality of the VIN walkaround. Do the videos showcase different introductions branding the dealership, is the voice over professional (videos without voice overs are a waste), is there a call to action at the end, does it look professional. If you are producing your own videos: is the video steady or is the camera bouncing around like you’re in a boat, can you hear the voice over, and is there a call to action.”

In addition to walk around videos Sura adds, “Service content is critical. This includes ‘how-to’ videos, service specials, and service educational videos explaining why a prospect should visit the dealership for his/her brake job or tires (the #1 reason that prospects defect and move to the independents), transmission, etc..”

Other types of content he recommends are:

  • Sales video specials promoting the opportunities of the month. Everyone wants a deal.
  • New model video content.
  • Video testimonials are great opportunities. (Make certain that the customer has a microphone so that the sound is clear).
  • Video introductions to the staff.

Video Metrics

Once you’ve determined what kind of video content you will make, the next step is to determine the best metrics for tracking the success or those videos. There are a lot of options for tracking your videos, so dealers need to avoid missing the forest for the trees and focus on the key metrics to determine the success of their campaigns. So we asked our experts, what metrics should dealers focus on to show the success or failure of their video marketing?

Phil Sura tells us that the “Key metrics would include the number of partial views, percentage of completed views, click throughs from an outside source (YouTube). Start to look at the average click per video for all video content to track improvement or decreases. Measure the videos viewed divided by dollars spent and click by dollars spent. If you are tracking some of these metrics, you will identify trends and you will be able to determine where to invest additional money.”

Phillip Aime adds that when it comes to metrics, “In some respects, you can treat video marketing like television using Nielsen data for online videos and Click Throughs. Being consistent on a dealer’s website can then show site traffic, retention and even conversion.”

He cautions, however, “in this new digital world, metrics are super important. But they can sometimes be over-analyzed. At the end of the day, remember that it’s all about driving sales. So my recommendation is to really understand what your content is saying and therefore, what part of the business is your content intended to drive. Once you understand that, look at sales first, then compare with your content metrics around views, site traffic, and get a complete picture of how they correspond with conversions.”

Video Promotion

No matter what content you post or how you track it, your video marketing won’t succeed if no one watches your videos, so dealers need a strategy to promote their content. The question we had was: What can dealers do to promote their videos?

“Dealers need to have an online strategy where videos take the place of written content,” explains Phillip Aime. “This drives better results and makes the dealer more credible and familiar while increasing consumer confidence.”

“Once dealers have quality video content, it’s important they understand that it is only effective if customers know they have it. Television is still the top way to drive awareness. But it can be made around 40% more effective when a consistent online message is added. So I always suggest using those in tandem in a very targeted way to avoid wasted impressions and dollars. Market that way and again, stay with it for a long enough period of time, and dealers will get web and social visits that make their video content a really valuable part of driving sales,” he adds.

Phil Sura says that when it comes to online video promotion, “I believe in TrueView video pre-roll. You can geo-target a specific area target people involved in automotive searches and you only pay for completed views. Google is changing the face of how retailers measure success. They are moving from a model of paying for impressions to completed views. [Also] link the video content to YouTube, Facebook, and AutoTrader (link the VIN walkarounds plus an additional video that showcases the dealership).”

Video Marketing Integration

Online video is an effective way to connect with consumers, in fact consumers who watch a video are 1.81 times more likely to make a purchase than non-viewers. To truly realize the potential of video, however, auto dealerships need to have an integrated marketing plan that includes all of their marketing, both online and offline, not just a video marketing plan. So, we posed the question to our experts: How can dealers integrate their video marketing with their other marketing efforts?

To do that, Phillip Aime advises, “First, dealers need to have a consistent look, feel, and message across their advertising platform. Secondly, they need to have an online strategy in place. Consistency in messaging across all media is imperative! This protects and elevates the dealer’s brand! By using TV and video marketing, the dealer’s retention values, conversion rates and traffic-to-site all increase. Remember, television is used to educate whereas online video is used to inform.”

“Integration across platforms is vital,” he continues. “And to really get there, you’ve got to stay consistent in your messaging and stay true to your brand. If you keep your eye on the ball in those areas, then just be sure to consider the device as you build out the video content. :30 second spots are really powerful on television, but a similar, shorter message is necessary for pre-roll. On your website and social pages, you can let them dig in deeper with long-form content. If a dealership takes that approach and builds on that video message over a period of time, they are going to see success.”

Phil Sura agrees with the importance of consistent message, adding, “There should be consistency with the branding message and the actual units being promoted. Consistency is critical.”

Mobile Video

If you promote your videos well, consumers are going to watch them. And since mobile shoppers are three times more likely to view a video than desktop shoppers, those consumers are probably watching on a tablet or smartphone. If your videos aren’t optimized for mobile, however, those potential customers, you’ve lost the opportunity to connect with them.

Phil Sura informs us, “There are two primary areas that dealers should focus on: the type of device being used and the bandwidth. A dealer should partner with a company that can provide encoding schemas to accommodate these two key areas. There are also two primary types of video streaming that are more advanced than other options: progressive download and adaptive streaming. Both of these options will take care of the needs of the dealer community.”

To optimize your videos for mobile, Phillip Aime points out, “Dealerships need to have a mobile-ready website first and foremost; however, most dealers do not have one. [So] then they need to have the technology to launch videos with their web platform.”

“Everybody is on a mobile device now,” Aime reminds us. “So step one for dealers is be sure your website displays correctly on tablets and smartphones. They should even start with that consideration since we know that a car buyer will compare dealers while they are on the lot of a competitor. So if there site isn’t mobile-friendly, they’ve lost them immediately. Once the site is correct for mobile, the videos will generally take care of themselves.”

Succeeding with Online Video

There is no doubt that online video has the potential to grow your web traffic and boost sales, but it needs to be done correctly. The scale and potential of online video marketing is no secret, so if you want your videos to rise above the noise and send your message to consumers, then it needs to be done correctly. Hopefully, the advice from our experts will help you do that. If you’d like to learn more, visit or subscribe to our newsletter

Michael Bowen


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