Today, car buyers have plenty of choices, ranging from small crossover vehicles to full-size SUV’s to passenger cars and more.
Consumers have a wide array of car brands, models, style and features to browse through and there are thousands of car dealers and independent car sellers, and vast online resources at their disposal.
Before a consumer takes a single step onto the floor of your showroom, car shopping consumers are forming opinions and making decisions by doing their research online.
It’s essential that your dealership be online with educational content and videos and be useful if you want your dealership to be one of the two visits they make when ready to buy.
How does an auto dealership capture the attention of the consumer?
To capture the attention of car buyers, auto dealers need to look beyond the status quo and look for an extra edge to their automotive ads and online marketing.
Online marketing is a significant influence in today’s automotive marketing industry. Your marketing strategies must be dynamic and embrace the latest trends, including content marketing and video.
Nearly 70% of people who used YouTube as part of their car buying process were influenced by what they watched
Video has passed the “up-and-coming” trend stage, and it’s here to stay, and its scope is proliferating in the auto industry.
Google found that about 50% of the time, consumers went straight to the dealer after having watched a video online.
So let’s do some math. If 70% of consumers on YouTube are influenced by the videos they see, and 50% visit a dealer after watching a video, how many consumers will visit your dealership when you have ZERO videos on YouTube?
Here are some other impressive stats around the reach of video:
- 110 million people watch at least one video per month on mobile (eMarketer)
- Shoppers on mobile watch video 3x more than laptop/desktop users (Invodo)
- 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others (Invodo)
Video Marketing is a handy way to engage with the auto buyer, below are some tips for effective automotive video marketing:
1. Prepare your content
Car buyers today conduct thorough research online before ever visiting a car dealership.
Videos make this research easy and help drive the customer decision-making process. Videos provide information to the auto buying consumer in a more familiar and engaging format.
In place of capturing a mindless walk-around video, spend some time developing a content strategy first.
Be it automotive ads or car specific videos, an informative and strategic approach is the key to successful marketing.
In terms of decision-making, 65% of auto buying consumers reported that they narrowed down their options after watching a video.
The top types of videos car buyers watch are:
- Test drives
- Specs and features videos
- Vehicle interior and exterior walkthroughs
You should be adding video to your marketing mix to maximize the customer journey.
2. Vehicle Highlights
The importance of vehicle walk-around videos is critical to educating the consumer.
Research that Google commissioned from Millward Brown Digital indicates that 70% of people who utilized YouTube videos as part of their car buying process were influenced by what they watched and views on YouTube of test drives, features and options, and walk-throughs have doubled in the past year.
Consumers are not impressed today with stock images on a website; they want to see the actual images of the vehicle in your inventory.
Consumers want to get a real glimpse of what a car looks like, what the features in the car are and how it handles on the road. Videos are more engaging and appealing to consumers than still images.
Consumers will look for information about the practicalities of owning a car, as the number of seats, number of airbags, etc. Video consumption ranks very highly at this stage in the customer sales cycle.
Videos can be as simple as still images with text overal and either a voiceover or set to music. This is not a difficult or expensive process to undertake.
3. Keep it Simple
It’s not possible to cover every detail about a vehicle into a 60 or 90-second video.
The goal is to provide simple and to the point videos that peak the consumer’s interest while showing them the fine points of the automobile.
More than a few dealers try to fit in too much information in this time frame allocated and fail to deliver valuable information the consumer is looking for.
A good video should have the right amount of information, creativity, and bottom line goal, to peak the interest of the consumer so that they want to see the auto in person and for a test drive.
4. Video Promotion
Approximately 50% of automotive website traffic comes from mobile devices today. Mobile devices govern digital interactions and are a crucial component of the auto shoppers’ journeys.
Four times as many customers watch a video about a product than reading about it. 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers about their products.
Guess what? Car buyers feel the same way.
Videos need to be optimized for mobile devices, or you’ll lose the opportunity to connect with this large pool of potential customers.
5. Amplify Your Content Far and Wide
Tight messaging is a must today. However, you need to deliver to your audience content that resonates with them and holds their interest.
There is nothing worse than looking at a social media channel, such as Facebook that has pictures of the company picnic when you are looking to see what auto services or car specials are available.
Auto dealerships are notorious for not making the best use of social media and engaging with their target market. Social media is a conversation, not a broadcast platform.
Make the best use of content sharing platforms to spread your message to your audience. Your message should be concise, but your distribution plan should be sprawling.
Below are just a few platforms to use to amplify your content:
Social media is the best platform to build a personal relationship with your target audience.
According to an Autotrader study, 88% of prospective buyers use the Internet for their auto buying research. Research conducted by Facebook shows that 71% of consumers utilize their mobile device when researching a car.
Google studied in detail one consumer’s complete journey, from awareness to purchase, and found that 71% of digital interactions occurred on mobile.
Among automotive internet shoppers, 22% use a social media site as a source while shopping for their new vehicle, up from 16% in 2015. The most popular social media sites used by auto internet shoppers during the shopping process are YouTube, DealerRater, and Facebook.
Slightly more than one-third (34%) of new-vehicle buyers using social media for automotive information post a picture of their new vehicle on a social site. Facebook is by far the most posted site at 88%, followed by Instagram at 21%.
Sharing your videos on social media will allow you to better identify your target audience and what interest them thereby improving your sales funnel and driving the ROI. Social media is an investment that you cannot afford to miss.
According to Google, no matter the source, data shows these early research moments are increasingly influenced by video. In fact, of people who used YouTube while buying a car, 69% were influenced by it—more than TV, newspapers or magazines.
“Auto review videos on YouTube have been watched more than 3M hours in the first 9 months of 2017, of which more than 1.2M were on mobile, more than 2X as many as last year.”
The top types of videos auto shoppers search for include vehicle test drives, highlights of features and options, and walkthroughs of the interior or exterior of the vehicle. Time spent watching these kinds of auto videos is up nearly 2X in the past year alone according to Google.
The average car shopper today makes just two dealership visits in the search for the perfect vehicle. That’s because today car shoppers turn to mobile to research models, find deals, and get real-time advice.
By sharing your videos on YouTube, you can engage with your audience and enhance your brand visibility.
YouTube is the best platform to share walk-around videos, testimonials and car reviews.
Promote your video with native advertising, this is an opportunity that many dealerships overlook.
Native advertising is a form of paid media advertising that is frequently adopted by content marketers. By definition, it is any paid content that is “in-feed” and inherently non-disruptive. This includes promoted tweets on Twitter, suggested posts on Facebook, and editorial-based content recommendation.
Average brand recall with native ads is 2X more than the traditional banner ads; native ads garner much higher CTRs than traditional display ads.
Once a user engages with your native ad experience, you can retarget them with relevant display ads that have a much better chance at effectiveness.
Native advertising is a great way to have your content discovered. Be it a great blog post, a terrific review from the press or an influencer, or a car walk around video. This is a great way to reach new and engaged audiences.
Vehicle highlights, sales specials, testimonials, service specials and more should have a special place in your website, and not just found by clicking on the sitemap.
Today, it’s easy to upload your videos to YouTube and other video sharing platforms and embed them on your site to improve your website load time.
The car buying process no longer begins in the showroom. It starts with a search engine on the internet. Auto dealerships can make their marketing campaigns more efficient, flexible, and persuasive with a higher ROI by making the best use of the internet.
This is a time of increasing opportunity to connect with auto shoppers long before they enter the showroom. Consumers are researching more and adding more and more vehicles to their consideration lists.
The first brand searched is the same brand purchased only 22% of the time.
But, more often than not, your chance to win over a shopper isn’t just happening in person, it’s happening online—often on a smartphone. Here are three things to keep in mind to make sure it’s your brand and dealership they choose when they’re ready to buy.
Consumers are searching online, both on the web, and on YouTube, for the best information on buying a car. But according to Google, only 22% of buyers go on to purchase the make and model of car they first searched on.
That’s a HUGE opportunity for car dealerships to use video marketing on YouTube to reach potential customers.
So how can brands and dealerships take advantage?:
- Have an Online Presence: It’s crucial that automotive manufacturers and dealers be there when and where people are looking. Try going through each of the above steps yourself, as though you were in the market for a new car. Are you there at each step?
- Be Informative and Useful: Beyond being there, consider how you can best meet the car buyer’s needs at each step. If you work at a manufacturer, help when people are looking for videos and images of your cars, exploring configurations and building their own, or comparing your brand to competitive vehicles. If you work at a dealership, help make it easy for customers to do the things they do most, like value their trade-in, search for prices and inventory, or find your store. And don’t forget to make it all as easy on mobile as it is on the desktop.
- Be Quick: Mobile phones have made us all impatient. We expect to find anything we need at the tips of our fingers. As a result, marketing cars is a bit like playing Jeopardy. It’s not just about who has the right answer. It’s also about who answers it the quickest. And the stakes for getting it wrong are high. If you aren’t there with the right answer, the moment shoppers are looking; chances are someone else will be.
Carol Forden is a Marketing Consultant who specializes in Content Marketing for the Auto Industry. Carol can be reached at carolforden.com