How businesses are using video to sell during COVID-19

Businesses have never faced such an urgent need to make adjustments to reach and engage customers as they have been during COVID-19.

With more consumers staying home and doing their shopping and researching online, using video to engage and entice your potential customers is key to keeping your sales moving. Video marketing provides auto dealerships and other businesses with a convenient, versatile and shareable medium to engage prospects in many new ways.

From March to June 2020, the time spent watching automotive videos on YouTube increased 27% year over year, according to YouTube internal data. YouTube is the №1 destination for auto purchasers to experience vehicles with video, said Lissette Gole, the head of industry for Google’s Automotive Retail division, who shared her business strategies during a Digital Air Strike-hosted webinar.

“Test drives and walkaround videos were the top things shoppers looked for when looking for videos,” Gole said. “In March, we saw 40% more views of these car videos than the previous year. People are still shopping for vehicles. They’re really doing it by experiencing the videos on YouTube.”

As dealers and businesses look for new ways to reach consumers, here are five easy ways to leverage new video tools to convert more prospects into customers:

1. Record customized vehicle and product highlights leveraging new video apps. With fewer consumers in store, your team should focus on catering to each prospect by easily creating videos from apps that have been built for automotive and other businesses. These videos should speak directly to the prospect and their interests, such as showing them specific features like a sunroof or how much legroom a vehicle has — in the way you would during a test drive. Mention that you can bring the vehicle or product to them, know what the customer is interested in and showcase it. New video tools allow for additional tracking so you know when prospects are viewing the video and you can follow up immediately.

2. Use video to highlight your COVID-19 policies. Tell your customers your dealership or store is safe by highlighting what you have done to sanitize your vehicles/products, your showroom/store and your service department. Explain how you are keeping employees safe. Explain any new service, such as test drives at home, vehicle/product pickup and delivery. Talk about any new scheduling procedures. Make sure you outline the proper precautions you’ve taken specific for your area, such as wearing masks, social distancing and any new check-in policies. A video from the general manager or owner reassuring customers during these unique times can go a long way to make consumers select your store over another.

3. Video can be used to highlight special offers for sales and service. Let them know about all specials and incentives to entice them to buy. This should be done not only with vehicle/product deals, but also service specials, recalls, oil changes, tires and more. With more customers doing road trips this summer it is important that you outline all the various things they should do for proper maintenance. Also, think about any unique offerings you can give them, such as 24-hour test drives and more.

4. Send “Thank You for Buying” videos and ask for a video testimonial from happy customers. New video tools allow customers to reply to your videos with their own video! They can shoot their own videos from their phone using a handy “reply by video” button after you send them a thank you video. They can even share their videos on social networks which helps with referrals, as well as easily create a great positive online review for your store. Prospects are responding more than ever before to seeing happy customers talking about the safe and convenient buying experience at dealerships.

5. Send videos by text to multiple customers and share videos on social media. There are more ways than ever to make videos work for your store! New SMS text alerts can include video to show your customers any new safety protocols and leveraging videos on social media can further engage prospects. Ensure you have all of your pre-owned vehicle or product inventory on Facebook Marketplace that can then be linked to an AI messaging bot that can follow up on inquiries with videos of their exact vehicle or product.

Proof there is a need for virtual retailing

Amazon is hiring at least 100,000 new workers to keep up with the surge in online orders, so that shows online shopping is booming. Your store should be taking advantage of this.

While sales are down at most businesses, automotive searches and website traffic are up. More than 50% of people are browsing Facebook more often, and there is a 32% search increase year-over-year in the automotive space, and those numbers keep rising. Twitter’s daily usage has jumped at least 25% this year.

Forty-five percent of auto intenders in the U.S. chose at-home test drives as the most popular alternative to dealership visits. With 57% of these possible auto buyers welcoming an online vehicle purchase option, online configurators rank high, according to Google survey data. These auto shoppers confirm that the wide variety of in-depth videos from OEMs, dealers and influencers resonated with them, Gole said.

“We know they are very active in video reviews and they spend a long time looking at these videos,” said Gole, adding that videos can be as short as 15 seconds or as long as an hour, as long as the information is informative and delivers value. “Dealers need to master their at-home test drives, along with promoting their virtual-buying capabilities and making sure they are available to answer questions. Scream at them from the rooftops so they know how to work with you, especially in this new world of concierge service. We don’t foresee this going away.”

It is key for businesses to promote specials and announcements on their free Google My Business page too. This is the first page consumers see when they Google your business, so make sure it’s up to date. Stores can share their virtual options, delivery services, hours and safety measures, as well as highlight vehicles through video. Each Google “tile” should have a call to action and link to a related landing page. More tips for turning Google into a lead generator can be found here.

Digital Air Strike is offering its video engagement technology, Video Logix, free to businesses for 30 days, as well as virtual retailing trainings and free face coverings to help stores sell and service safely. Find out more here.