I facilitated a “Best of the Best” panel discussion at the 12th Digital Dealer Convention in Orlando last month. The focus of the panel was dealer applications of video, specifically to drive organic search and website conversion. During the 12th Digital Dealer Conference workshop sessions, several speakers focused on the Zero Moment of Truth, ZMOT study (http://www.zeromomentoftruth.com) which was published by Google, including a general session from Jonika Hoomes, who is the Head of Automotive Channel Sales Partnerships for North America at Google.
The first question I had for the panelists was also be tied to the ZMOT study. This is a must read for retailers. Here is a slide for those only interested in the summary:
According to Google, all purchases start with a stimulus. In the case of an auto purchase, the stimulus could be a Tier 1 spot that the prospect watches. Once the stimulus initiates action, 80% of people will then use a search engine and the potential purchaser typically uses 10.4 sources of information. One source may be AutoTrader.com and a second source may be a dealer website. The Zero Moment of Truth is a situation when the prospect is conducting a search for a product, or they talk to friends about the product, or they comparison shop online.
These ZMOTs shape the decisions of the shoppers, according to Jim Lecinski, managing director, U.S. Sales & Service for Google, who is the author of ZMOT. Lecinski reports that 70% plus of the prospects will read reviews and watch videos. The prospect then ends up at the shelf to buy the product off the “shelf.” The shelf could be a grocery store, or Target, or your dealership. A key point referenced in this book is the importance of both testimonials and video content to create a stronger moment of truth. It is the impression that a consumer gets that will move that person down the sales funnel.
In preparing for the Digital Dealer panel discussion, one of my panelists forwarded a white paper from Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing Group. Freedman has worked in e-commerce for 15 years. Freedman’s research revealed five key points tied specifically to video:
- Consumers set the pace: they want, expect and watch video.
- Video plays a multi-faceted role and is ideal for building consumer confidence.
- Video quality matters.
- Many website locations merit video integration.
- Beyond site experience, target shoppers want video in all places where they spend their time: e-mail, social and mobile.
Here is a sample of the companies engaged with video referenced by Freedman with her research: Belk, L.L. Bean, Kendall Jackson, Dell, AutoZone, Crocs, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Moosejaw, Golfsmith and Verizon. Why would these companies use video to promote their products and their value proposition? I would suggest that they had metrics supporting the impact of video long before Google published the ZMOT study. Freedman’s website is: http://www.e-tailing.com/thegroup/freedman.html
Your reaction to this may be, Fortune 200 companies can afford to have a video strategy, but applications for auto dealers simply don’t apply. You may wonder if dealers are tracking results because of a video strategy. Is video a phase? Is a video strategy simply producing VIN specific walk arounds?
To answer some of these questions, I will introduce Beth VanStory. Beth is principal for Thinkout Consulting. She consults to auto dealers and helped Toyota Sunnyvale become one of the top online Toyota dealerships. Beth launched and led OfficeDepot.com to profitability in one year. Earlier she led the new media group at The Weather Channel, bringing weather.com to one of the most visited sites on the web. Beth believes in the power of video for driving visibility with Google and creating a stronger first impression on the sites of the dealerships that she consults with. I have met others who have migrated to the retail automotive world with impressive corporate backgrounds. The strategies being used by Toys R Us or Weather.com should be studied by the retailers to understand how to drive traffic to the website and how to create a wow moment when the consumer first looks at the website.
Let’s go back to some of the questions that I listed:
Question 1: Is a video strategy simply producing VIN specific walk arounds?
Answer 1: No
Question 2: Can I afford a video strategy?
Answer 2: Yes. Give up on some of the dated traditional advertising approaches not gaining traction and focus on a video strategy.
Question 4: How much do I need to get started?
Answer 4: $1,200 per month with the right company can get you into the game.
Question 5: What should I be focused on?
Answer 5: A home page player to showcase video content, monthly sales and service specials, new model content, content tied to the service department, customer testimonials, “how to” videos and high quality VIN specific video walk arounds.
Question 6: Why should I pay attention to the ZMOT book?
Answer 6: If you gain knowledge of how Google operates and apply it, you will sell more cars.
Question 7: What can a video strategy do for me?
Answer 7: It can help gain ZMOTs. Google places a higher value on relevant video. A video strategy will help differentiate your website. A video strategy will slow a consumer down and drive the time on site metric. If time on site increases, your website conversion rate will increase.
Question 8: What are some good retail sites to review?
Answer 8: Visit the Jim Ellis stores, Mile One, Toyota Sunny Vale, Germain Cadillac of Easton, Hoffman Honda, Jeff Wyler Florence Honda, Ed Morse or O’Hare Honda for some ideas. All of these are high performing operations.
Question 9: How do I come up with ideas?
Answer 9: Get your management team involved and identify a point person who has a creative side.
Question 10: Have we figured out all the applications for video?
Answer 10: We are only beginning to understand opportunities for online video. The key is to jump into the game. You can’t grow unless you are participating.
I recently had a meeting with John Peifer from Suburban Chevrolet in Minneapolis. John summarized his marketing focus this way: “My marketing efforts need to accomplish the following in this order: drive showroom traffic, get the phone to ring, drive emails and drive traffic to my website.”
John stated, “The retail game is an easy one to figure out.” I believe that the retail game may be easy to understand, but it is very hard to master. I would add that retailers must be willing to adapt to the advertising game. John embraced video seven years ago, long before the statistics or studies proved that it was a good investment. John also focused a higher percentage of his ad spend on the digital side compared to other dealers in his market. What about you? Are you embracing video as an opportunity?