The average car shopper today, according to a 2015 article by Google’s Head of YouTube Ads Product Marketing (and former automotive marketer) David Mogensen who shares how to tap into this new auto buying process, makes just two dealership visits in the search for the perfect vehicle. That’s because today’s car shopper turns to mobile to research models, find deals, and get real-time advice.
In Google’s research, Test Drives, Features & Options and Vehicle Walkthroughs are the big three when it comes to what types of produced videos in-market buyers are watching. Time spent watching these videos increased 2x in the last year.
The value of in-market buyers on your Vehicle Details Pages is huge, but if your VDP isn’t enticing or engaging enough, then bringing them to your VDP may not result in as many conversions as it could. If these consumers are spending twice as much time watching videos, then imagine how engaged they would be with your sales team with live, on-demand video streaming showcasing your vehicles!
Mobile should never be discounted when deciding on what avenues to explore that boost engagement. According to records there is an astounding 342.4 Million registered mobile connections (106% of Population). What that tells you is that if you want to reach people you must learn to communicate effectively with them on their smartphones.
Armed with these statistics, let’s take a look at some apps that could make live broadcasting a vehicle viewing possible for your dealership, and with a simple embedded button on your VDP (like the examples below), it will be easy to have your buyers contact your dealership or sales team directly.
Periscope is the new kid on the block, but this kid has already chased some of its’ predecessors out of town. Periscope is owned, developed and supported by Twitter. That’s right! If you can’t get the rant out in 140-characters or less, Twitter has now given you the ability to make your personal TV station.
Now if all that just sounds like a lot of noise further clouding up the interweb, take a close look at how some dealerships are already taking advantage of Periscope’s abilities. Some dealerships have already set up their channels for launch events and send out automatic alerts to their “followers” so they can follow along via their smartphones, tablets or even desktops. Their followers can also ask questions and whoever is running the feed can answer back. The viewers can express likes or loves for a given topic, and it’s all stored on the server for 48 hours for anyone that missed it.
The best part for a dealership, if they did a great walk through or just wanted to make a video, the entire broadcast can be saved and repurposed so anyone can download it and watch later.
Some dealers have even taken it a step further and had each of their sales team start a channel to offer walk-throughs, test drives and consultations with interested buyers from a button click on their website.
Now picture your sales team getting a buzz on their smartphone, engaging with a buyer they’ve never met before, taking them for a tour of the car they were interested in all before the customer even arrives at the dealership.
Obviously, there will be cons to every tool. Video streaming uses a lot of data on a network for starters. Another drawback initially is how “social networking” apps operate, well, socially. The networks may be full of not-automobile dealership related content. Avoid this noise by providing your potential buyers a direct link to your page, channel or sales team. Lastly, is where to start (in selecting broadcasting apps) and how to do this right.
While this one may look like something your pre-teen kids would use, don’t let its looks fool you. Streamago is a full featured broadcast platform that can incorporate well into your business.
Not only can you choose between Public and Private casting but you can select the video quality as well. Like many social apps, there are smart ways to interact without saying a word such as sending hearts and candies to the broadcaster as well as typical text chat over the video window.
The big plus for apps like this is you can share your broadcasts over your pre-existing social channels like Twitter and Facebook or popular chat applications like What’s App.
Although not one of the bigger names, it’s available for both Android and iOS so regardless of your smartphone of choice, you can run the application.
Another app to consider is Stre.am because it’s available for both Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.
Stre.am is one of those great tools that the developers decided not to limit themselves as far as the platform. Not only can you run this from a smartphone but you can also stream live footage from your GoPro Hero4! If you reside in an area where having a phone in your hand while driving a car can net you $200+ fine, then maybe having an app that can stream a test drive from a dash mounted GoPro is just the thing your dealership needs!
Another nice feature is the ability to save your streams to something called a Reel, which you can download at a later time and share on your Facebook business page, Twitter account or website.
As always, there are typical downfalls. With a little diligence, you can avoid them and incorporate new technology into your dealership’s engagement arsenal.
The big drawback for any of the “social networking” video applications is there is a lot of unrelated content on these networks. With some planning and marketing your particular channel to your prospective buyers, they can avoid a lot of this content.
A huge advantage to these apps is the initial cost; the apps are free. Your availability can be promoted through channels your dealership already has a profile on, like Twitter and Facebook. Finally, not a lot of dealerships are using these tools yet which could make you the pioneer in your community.
I’ve gone over a few of the many apps for video out there. The ones I’ve covered here are for streaming live video broadcasts, running an interactive Q&A, taking a buyer for a walkthrough or test drive. Are these apps appropriate for filming a commercial or video blog? No. But they provide the best alternative to a face-to-face meeting with a customer at your dealership.
By embracing these tools now as they begin to introduce more business-specific features, your dealership will already be ahead of the curve having had experience implementing them. Your experiences could even be the benchmarks quoted in future articles.
Let me know what your favorite streaming tools are and how you plan on or are incorporating them into your dealership’s in-market, buyer engagement strategy.
Marketing Manager at Speed Shift Media helping automotive dealerships throughout North America sell more cars through intelligent display advertising.