When it comes to automotive retail and marketing in an increasingly omnichannel world, it’s clear video is a potent and essential tool. More than 90% of consumers say that watching a product video is an important factor in their buying decision; in the often-quoted words of Forrester researcher Dr. James McQuivey, “One minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words.”
But when you’re an auto dealer, how can you best communicate with and influence potential buyers? Video walk-arounds of your inventory on VDP pages? “Meet our staff” videos on your website? Informational or how-to videos on YouTube? None or all of the above?
Of course, there’s not one right or wrong answer. For example, the three digital marketing experts in this story have different takes on how video can be most meaningful to a dealership’s bottom line.
But what they agree about is that dealers need to have a plan and approach the subject strategically, not in a hit-or-miss way. It’s one thing to create videos. It’s another to have the right ones, then deploy them in the right way, at the right time, to the right audience.
Tim James of Flick Fusion, an industry-leading authority on video marketing, lays out a five-stage strategy that emphasizes visualizing end results and planning multipurpose video content accordingly. This strategy utilizes data and covers every stage of the customer’s buying journey, from research to purchase to post-sale service.
Meanwhile, in his plan, digital marketing veteran Gary Galloway of Netsertive breaks down the two types of video marketing—content creation and paid advertising—and gives step-by-step details on how to launch a YouTube channel, conceptualize and produce content and video ads, then incorporate them into an overall marketing mix.
Marketing innovator Jerry Daniels of Automotive Broadcasting Network (ABN) focuses on a different aspect of video in his five-step strategy: digital signage at the dealership. Utilized in waiting rooms, showrooms, and service departments, digital signage engages customers in a variety of contexts, conveying your message in a way that bridges the gap between their online and in-store experiences.
Also, for another perspective on video marketing, check out this article by John Mruz of Flashtalking, “How Video Can Fill the Gaping Hole in the Middle Tier of Automotive Marketing.”
Tim James is COO of Flick Fusion Video Marketing. James is a dynamic sales and marketing strategist with more than 20 years of success in driving revenue growth for auto dealers. He is one of the auto industry’s leading authorities on the use of video marketing strategies throughout the entire online merchandising and sales process.
Gary Galloway is a versatile marketing executive with more than 19 years of experience implementing marketing solutions. Galloway is head of product marketing for Netsertive, a digital marketing technology company, and also serves as an adjunct professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, teaching media sales, management, and digital marketing. Previously, Galloway was director of marketing for a regional automotive group, where he created and executed monthly digital marketing campaigns for 19 retail locations and 30 franchises. Before that, Galloway worked at the Nielsen Company, creating television and internet measurement software products. He frequently speaks to dealer association groups at conferences across North America, and is widely published in automotive publications. Sissy Rodriguez of Netsertive also contributed to these responses.
Jerry Daniels is the founder, president, and CEO of the Automotive Broadcasting Network (ABN). Since founding ABN in 2007, Daniels has been driving innovation in the digital marketing space, providing automotive dealerships with tools to capitalize on direct marketing to customers throughout the waiting rooms, showrooms, and service areas of the dealership. Leveraging his nearly 30 years of experience within the automotive retail industry, Daniels spearheads ABN’s development of effective solutions featuring quality content to help dealers improve their customer satisfaction index scores, increase opportunities within the dealership, build loyalty, and improve the customer experience.
James: One of the main reasons dealers don’t believe in the power of video is because they have invested a significant amount of time and money with multiple video producers and video platforms, and were not able to attribute tangible sales to specific videos.
Often, they purchased video content from multiple providers to use in different campaigns, and none of that content or video data was used in other campaigns or on other platforms. This “single purpose” video strategy is expensive and yields few results.
To begin with the end in mind, you have to look at video with a “multipurpose” perspective and develop a strategy that allows you to leverage your video content and data across multiple touch points and campaigns.
This makes it easy and cost-effective to get the right video content in front of the right shopper at the right time of the buying cycle.
Galloway: Video marketing can be put in two different buckets:
(1) Video content creation, which encompasses the organic, dealer-made videos that appear on your businesses’ YouTube channel (e.g., vehicle walk-arounds, customer reviews, how-to videos highlighting a car’s features, or showcasing new inventory).
(2) Paid video advertising, which is used to drive brand awareness or local awareness (e.g., think about what you may be running now on your local television station).
To optimize your advertising dollar, it’s critical to identify who you’re targeting and understand what makes them engage with video content.
Daniels: Digital signage is the most effective way to reach today’s customer. A 2016 CNN study found that people spend nearly 11 hours a day looking at screens. Many of your customers spent at least that much time researching their desired vehicle prior to even considering getting in the car and driving to your facility.
The presence of digital signage screens improves the in-dealership customer experience by providing a continuation of the interaction with the process they have experienced so far. They will find comfort in your environment, and be more receptive to interaction with your staff.
In the fast-paced, 280-characters-or-less world we live in today, banners, posters, and printed materials do not even catch the eye of a high percentage of your guests.
It takes animation and compelling graphics to get them to tune in. Digital signage engages the customer and instantly makes them more responsive to your messaging.
James: Create video content for every stage of the shopper’s path to purchase. Consumers use the internet for research because they still have preconceived notions about car dealers.
They don’t want to call you or fill out a form because they’re afraid of being harassed. Yet they do have questions. Provide the answers to those questions with video.
Google tells you exactly what type of video content car shoppers are looking for at each stage of the buying cycle in its report, “The 5 Auto Shopping Moments Every Brand Must Own.”
For the “which car is best?” moment, you want new model test drive videos. For the “is it right for me?” moment, you want inventory videos and walk-arounds. For the “can I afford it?” moment, you want financial FAQ videos. For the “where should I buy it?” moment, you want value proposition videos, and so on.
Galloway: After you create content, then you need a place to distribute that content for the world to see.
The best starting place is YouTube. To create your YouTube channel, sign into YouTube (via your Google account) and select “Channel List.” Then select “Create a new channel,” where you will input your dealership name and other details. Click “Done.”
Once your brand channel is set up, you’ll be able to customize your page for prime optimization.
Features include creating tabs and video categories for custom content sections, tagging videos to increase reach, driving viewers directly back to your dealership website, and walking into your dealership.
Daniels: Digital signage is unique in that it can benefit all profit centers of your dealership through upselling and cross-selling, if done strategically and correctly.
For example, a digital sign in your waiting lounge should run service information to generate upsells, and it should also encourage customers to take a test drive while they wait. A showroom channel can also sell accessories so your new-car buyer can see what they need to add on to make it uniquely theirs.
You should also view your digital signage as a means to improve the customer experience. A digital menu board immediately establishes trust and transparency. A lounge TV product like Automotive Broadcasting Network’s DealerTV provides family-friendly content, eliminates competitor ads and negative news, and finds the right balance between entertainment and marketing.
This reduces perceived wait times—important because the main complaint customers have about visiting the dealership is it takes too long.
James: It’s important to realize that once you’ve got your video content, it doesn’t have to be static. Your marketing strategy is always changing with new promotions and ad concepts.
You can integrate all of your new marketing messages into your existing videos, so the banners and graphics on your existing videos will automatically update to display the latest promotion. Artificial intelligence will even determine for you, based on consumer behavior patterns, which video and message an individual shopper should see.
So, one person will see a display ad for a pickup truck advertising a cash-back deal, while another person sees an ad for a compact sedan with a low-price guarantee, and another person sees an ad promoting your car seat safety clinic this weekend.
Ultimately that’s how you make money using video: using data to increase the relevancy of your videos for each shopper across every touch point.
Galloway: Before rolling the camera, it’s crucial for your dealership to identify its video advertising strategy moving forward. Consider what information you want the viewer to walk away with after watching the video.
These original content videos don’t need to be fancy or high-tech. Most dealerships use the video camera on their mobile phone to shoot the vehicle walk-arounds, so don’t focus on it being perfect. Just post it on your YouTube channel initially. You can worry about quality later.
According to a study by BrandWatch, the most-viewed brand videos are, on average, only 31 to 60 seconds long. Be short, sweet, and to the point. As of April 2018, how-to videos on YouTube are growing at a rate of 70% per year.
Be original, honest, and give off the same feeling you would expect to give a customer at an in-dealership visit.
Daniels: When you decide to add digital signage to your dealership, partner with a company with the experience and knowledge to provide an effective, sustainable product that will maximize the return on your established objectives.
Your partner should consult with you on screen placements and marketing strategy, then design a network customized to your facility. The network should consist of only equipment that ensures uptime and is easily supported from a remote location, if necessary. Your network should be proactively monitored, and have redundancies in place to prevent unsightly black screens.
Finally, it is of utmost importance that your partner meets with you regularly to ensure your content is current and working toward your objectives to maximize the benefit of the digital signage network.
In short, your partner should ensure your digital signage is working for you so you can focus on what you are great at: selling and servicing vehicles.
James: Once you’ve got all this great video content, you have to put a strategy in place that uses data to enhance the shopper’s experience.
This includes introducing video emails and texts, both from a mass campaign perspective and using video in your lead follow-up process.
The reason you want to add these into the equation is because when you capture real-time data from your existing customers and leads, you can now identify them by name as they continue their search and take action on other websites. Any time an existing customer or lead watches one of your videos, you will receive a record of that event in real time via your CRM.
What could be a more relevant time to call your customer than when they’re live on your website watching videos? If they’re watching a service video, call them with a service reminder.
Galloway: Determine how you’ll measure video advertising performance. Who are you going to target, and how?
YouTube has 12 different kinds of targeting, and each of them have a different objective based on your advertising goals.
We suggest that you start with the following as they have the broadest audience, and you can narrow and tweak your targeting later: Affinity Audience (allows your business to target viewers based on categories of interests), In-Market Audience (allows your business to target viewers who are actively searching and comparing your product/service), and Remarketing (people who have been to your website).
There are also more advanced targeting options available through YouTube, like custom intent audiences targeting, which can use and apply [what you learn] from your search campaigns.
Daniels: Your digital signage should complement your local advertising and branding to differentiate your dealership from the others in your area. Sharing your story in concert with Tier 1 content from your manufacturer allows you to leverage both brands effectively.
The content you choose to display on your network should highlight all the things that make your dealership great. Sharing the work you do in the community humanizes the dealership and creates connections with your customers. Sharing testimonials puts your customers at ease and reinforces their decision to do business with you.
Don’t forget the power and reach of social media. Automotive Broadcasting Network has a unique product, ABN Live!, that celebrates a customer purchase and creates a visual they can easily share on their social platforms.
This turns customers into brand advocates, and keeps your dealership top of mind for anyone who may have vehicle needs in the near future.
James: Every time a customer drops off their vehicle in your service department, they know the upsell call is coming. So, they condition themselves beforehand to say no, even if the need is legitimate.
Video is the best way to provide visual proof. Take a quick video or send the customer a text with a link that says “Click here to stream live.”
Then the service advisor can literally show the customer the grooves in the rotors or how thin the brake pads are while explaining to the customer why the repair should be done in a live conversation.
Video emails, video texts, and video live streaming in the service department are all must-have tools for building trust and adding value to the service experience.
Galloway: YouTube is the second-largest search engine and third most-visited site. It can add value to your dealership’s overall marketing mix.
Make sure to align your overall marketing strategy with clear objectives, and that you’re measuring those objectives using the correct metrics. YouTube is a great way to do general awareness–type advertising similar to local television.
But it can be done in a much cheaper and more effective way because of the ability to target specific types of people with clear signals of buying intent. This leads to higher view rates and high conversion rates, ultimately leading to higher-quality traffic into your dealership.
A rule of thumb for budget allocation is to use 50% for awareness (e.g., display, YouTube Affinity Audience, Facebook, high-funnel search terms), 30% for consideration (e.g., display retargeting, YouTube In-Market, retargeted Facebook ads), and 20% for decision (e.g., low-funnel search terms, Facebook lead ads).
Daniels: Digital signage provides the flexibility to refresh your messaging quickly and cost effectively.
Imagine being able to launch a new in-store campaign without the expense of printed materials and the labor associated with removing and replacing the old ones.
You can always keep your content seasonally relevant and consistent across all your marketing platforms. You can even utilize data-driven content to do things like sell wiper blades when it is raining or A/C service when the temperature is over 90, and use DMS data integrations to encourage trade-ins and appraisals of desired vehicles from customers currently in your store for service.
With the right partner and the right strategy, there are any number of ways to engage your customer. Digital signage bridges the gap between the virtual world your customer spent so much time in before they arrived [at your dealership] and their physical interaction with [it].
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