If your dealership hasn’t climbed aboard the video marketing train, what are you waiting for? The common objections—it costs too much, it’s too much work, the dealership is too small, etc.—no longer hold up when you consider the reality of what it takes to implement and maintain a video marketing strategy and the bottom-line gains you’ll make by having one.
There’s no shortage of statistics pointing to the effectiveness of video marketing, but one in particular from Insivia is telling, and cannot be ignored by auto dealers: 90% of consumers say that watching a video about a specific product is helpful in the buying-decision process. And consider the well-known quote from Forrester researcher Dr. James McQuivey: “One minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words.”
But there’s much more to the story than statistics. Three auto industry veterans are here to tell you why you should show—not just tell—prospective customers what your dealership has to offer: Tim James, COO of Flick Fusion; Gary Galloway, automotive digital marketing evangelist at Netsertive; and Mike Martinez, managing director of AutoPoint.
In the first part of this two-part online feature, they explain how an effective video strategy costs less than you’d think, and doesn’t require a degree in cinematography to produce. They also reveal the components of a successful dealership video strategy, and warn of the mistakes that can hinder its effectiveness.
DMM: At dealerships that have been slow or resistant to incorporate video strategy into their marketing, what’s holding them back, and how would you persuade them to utilize the full potential of video?
Tim James: The top three reasons why more auto dealerships haven’t embraced video marketing are  they don’t believe they have the budget to create videos;  they don’t believe they have the time to create videos; or  they don’t believe they have the expertise, equipment, or creativity to create videos.
The good news for dealers is that video technology exists that can make videos affordable, and completely automate the production process so they literally don’t have to do a thing. Remember when dealers resisted the idea of having to put up VDPs and photos? It’s like that now with videos, but the reality is that videos will soon become the “new normal.”
Videos are the best way to merchandise your inventory online. Dealers spend a lot of time and money merchandising inventory in their dealership. Their showrooms are immaculate, the cars are clean, and the staff is professionally dressed. Yet when it comes to merchandising online, where 90% of the shopping process is done, many dealers aren’t doing anything to merchandise their vehicles, other than with text and photos. Have you ever noticed how so many VDPs look the same?
Videos can set your dealership apart from the competition. Having a full-motion inventory video with a professional, engaging presentation is like teleporting a salesperson right into your customer’s living room.
It doesn’t have to be time-consuming either. At the very least, stitched photo videos can be automatically created from inventory photos. Many lot-service companies have started shooting videos in addition to taking photos, and dealerships that shoot their own video can just as easily shoot a video and then extract their photos from the video. The technology exists to make the process fast and easy.
Gary Galloway: It’s important that dealers look at video as part of their overall digital strategy, rather than view it as a separate tactic. Though it may seem like a daunting new medium, it’s emerging as one of the most effective ways to market a product—especially to the younger, digital-savvy generation.
According to Marketing Land, 85 million people are consuming online videos daily, and millennials specifically spend 48% more time watching video than any other demographic. Among Netsertive’s customer base, clients saw major changes in their paid-search traffic, including a 56.8% increase in conversions, after introducing video to their campaigns. As such, it’s important that marketers organically integrate video into their digital campaigns, landing pages, and more.
Although many of today’s dealers still dedicate a significant amount of their marketing budgets to traditional TV, advertising agencies are actually recommending that brands start focusing more on digital video. In fact, they suggest marketers shift 10% to 25% of their TV budget to digital video because it gives them more targeting options and enables marketers to measure ROI more effectively.
Dealers have been hesitant about this method because it comes with some significant challenges. One of the primary reasons being that it’s difficult to differentiate a TV spot from an effective video advertisement. TV audiences are captive, while YouTube viewers can skip an ad after five seconds, so online videos must be compelling enough to captivate and keep the viewer’s attention immediately.
To alleviate some of the burden of inserting video into digital campaigns, dealers should work with brand partners to obtain pre-roll footage and ensure content is compliant and up to date with current products and promotions. Dealers should also leverage campaign analytics to determine what is and isn’t working, and how to continuously improve. Understanding ROI is key to expanding future video programs and securing additional co-op support.
Mike Martinez: Video can be an unfamiliar marketing format, and many dealerships don’t know how to go about implementing it into their current marketing strategies. They may feel unsure about whether or not it’s worth it. And if dealerships try to launch video campaigns on their own with no experience in this arena, they’ll have to dedicate a lot of time and effort to something they think has questionable value.
I would tell those dealerships that video is important, and they need to have a solid video presence in place within the next couple years. Video is quickly becoming the new showroom, the new test drive, and a vital complement to what dealerships are already doing.
It’s worth the investment. I would tell hesitant dealerships to find a good vendor partner that has extensive video experience, and that can guide them through the implementation and creation process.
DMM: What are the essential components of a comprehensive, effective dealership video marketing program?
TJ: To have a successful video marketing program, auto dealerships need to have:
 Content: Start with inventory videos, then add value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos, service department videos, etc. Dealers should have an established process for creating videos, whether it’s someone internally or using an outside vendor like a lot-services company shooting their video content.
 Exposure: One of the biggest problems that dealership have with video is getting them seen. Their strategy must get the right video in front of the right shopper at the right time of the buying cycle.
In addition to their website, dealerships should post all of their videos on their YouTube channel and social media profiles. They should have videos on their third-party auto shopping site listings. They should create video ad campaigns, which perform better than text or photo ads. And they should use videos in their email marketing and lead follow-up process.
The key is having an integrated exposure strategy that merges their video content into their sales and marketing strategies, and vice versa. This saves an amazing amount of time while increasing their ability to capture more viewer data, all while making it easy for the shopper to move from one part of the buying cycle to the next in a controlled environment.
 Data Collection: Since most digital touch points do not actually host the video, the video host plays a very important role in the success of a video marketing strategy. Ideally a dealership will host all of their videos on a single hosting platform. This gives the dealership control over their customers’ viewing experience while capturing and storing data for every viewer of every video.
Many dealers use YouTube as a primary hosting platform for some of their videos, then utilize different hosts for other videos such inventory, test drive, and lead follow-up video emails. This separation of content makes it extremely difficult to capture all of your viewing data, [and] controlling the customer experience and utilizing the data is next to impossible. And this is where most dealerships are missing out on an opportunity that could have one of the biggest impacts on their sales . . . using their video data.
 Data Utilization: In addition to the increases in the informational and emotional value that video brings, the utilization of video viewer data is one of the most important advantages that video can provide versus any other media. Video viewer data can be used to create relevancy, which is the key to any successful marketing strategy.
Relevant content attracts and engages customers; increases time spent on your website; boosts search engine rankings; improves important metrics like click-through rates, conversions, appointments, and sales; and produces higher-quality leads.
With videos, relevancy is defined as choosing which videos to display to individuals, along with sales and marketing messages, that can all be updated in real time based upon the viewer, touch point, geo-location, day, time—you name it.
GG: To start, dealers need to understand what differentiates them in their local market, and determine how to tell that story through video. A video marketing program is no different from a TV strategy. However, the critical underlying issue is that many dealerships are still unsure what their TV advertising strategies should look like. A few general tips include:
 Remember that you are telling a story, not just selling a product. Carefully plan the timing of the campaign so content is consistent and expresses a narrative, as opposed to segmented advertisements.
 In any video advertisement, it’s important to be concise with the message. Viewers will skip the ad if they’re not immediately drawn in. And, if it’s too long or drawn out, the audience will quit watching.
 Finally, like any other advertisement, videos must have a clear call to action that tells viewers exactly where to find more information or how to find the dealership.
Video advertising enables dealers to highlight their inventory, a vehicle’s unique features, and more. Millennials, especially, enjoy seeing real people using products so they can better understand the durability and ease of use.
Telling a concise narrative with a strong call to action is key to launching and sustaining a strong video campaign.
MM: When it comes to vehicle sales, buyers today research before they purchase. They make their decisions online and walk into your dealership ready to buy.
So before they come in, they want to see video walk-arounds, virtual test drives, model comparisons, how-to videos, and financing tips. Even on the service side of things, customers want to research their options. They want to know why you’re recommending the services you are, and they want to form their own conclusions about whether or not they should approve ASRs.
Educational service and repair videos are hugely important for customer satisfaction, and they increase upsells for the dealership, too. Your service advisors should be sending your customers a digital report that includes these types of videos, so customers can learn on their own time and come back empowered to make service decisions.
DMM: Among dealerships that have been using video for years, what are common mistakes or areas for improvement?
TJ: The biggest mistake I see is that some dealers think that having videos is the same thing as having a video marketing strategy. Many dealers go to a lot of effort to create and deliver video content. Whether it is video emails in their lead follow-up process, value proposition and testimonial videos, or even inventory videos on their website, they look at their video content, and their strategy pretty much stops there.
To be most effective, videos have to be part of a strategy that includes all of these elements plus content, exposure, data collection, and data utilization. They are leaving a lot of money on the table by not leveraging their content through a true video marketing strategy, and in a lot of circumstances, they are even creating more work for themselves because of it.
I recommend starting with inventory videos. Your inventory is your most important asset, and you spend a lot of money to drive traffic to your various VDPs. It is important to maximize the merchandising of your inventory, and there is no better way to accomplish this than with inventory videos.
Then add the other three elements to your strategy to generate exposure, capture your viewer data, and utilize that data to deliver the most relevant experience possible for your shoppers. Promote the fact your dealership has these videos, and shoppers will respond.
In addition to posting them on your VDPs, make sure they’re distributed to the dozens of other touch points mentioned in the second question. Have a “suggested videos” widget on your homepage. Have built-in lead conversion widgets in every video. Use inventory videos in your lead follow-up process and email marketing. If you do all these things, you will see metrics improve and you will get more leads.
Once you have succeeded in creating a successful video marketing strategy for inventory videos, build the rest of your strategy around it. Add all of the rest of your video content to your strategy of exposure, data capture, and data utilization. You will find that you not only save a lot of time, but all of your other video content [will be] more effective.
GG: The biggest mistake dealers make is not investing enough to make a significant, measurable impact. Allocating up to 25% or 30% of the marketing budget to video advertising gives dealers the best chance of achieving a tangible and meaningful ROI.
MM: Most important is actual use. For example, some dealerships have the ability to send digital service reports with videos, and their advisors just don’t use it. That’s a huge waste of a valuable tool.
Second, videos need to be professional. They should showcase the dealership brand, use professional voice-overs, maintain steady camerawork, and have clear sound. Customers have very little patience for poor quality or content. They will switch off a video within seconds if it doesn’t meet their standards or catch their attention. This is why dealerships should work with reliable vendors who have experience crafting compelling, professional content.
End of Part One
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