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Jared Hamilton
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Arvid Linde

Arvid Linde Marketing Expert

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It’s About Time we Take Internet Car Sales Seriously

New research from GFK shows that an increasing number of Brits would consider buying a new car online directly from the manufacturer's site. As much as 31% of the under 35-year-olds responded that they would be tempted to buy a car without a middleman. What about the older generation of car buyers? Maybe they're more inclined to stick to the old-fashion methods of purchasing a car? Apparently not. The same survey showed that 28% of the over 35-year-olds wouldn't mind purchasing a car online.

The game-changer for dealers, however, is in another research figure – 80%! That's how many potential car buyers arrive at a dealer's location with the required information under their belt. And suddenly, as they rebuff your well-honed sales speech, you understand – you're dealing with a completely new kind of customer.

They don't ask questions because they've read the reviews, seen the videos and they know your cars as thoroughly as you do. At first, it seems a little bit scary, yet on the other hand, it's easier to sell to a customer who knows your product. It just takes a new frame of mind to close the sale.

Videos and Social Media

It seems that apart from the obvious sources (car blogs and review sites) the potential buyers are using two main sources to stay up to date on the coolest new cars for sale: videos and social media.

Did you know that this summer, during July in the US alone - 187 million internet users watched 48 billion videos. That's 256 videos each, or 22 hours of watching per user. Isn't it difficult to get your head around this figure?

Although you can't really say that this video boom happened overnight. There were trends; and here's a "high-five" if you spotted the trend and acted upon it. Back in 2010 Internet Retailer magazine surveyed people shopping online for swimwear. 90% of respondents stated that video content impacted their buying decision.

What Works

Screaming Car DealerIt all comes down to creativity. A guy standing in front of a whiteboard enthusiastically declaiming his sales message or reading out a large-print article pinned behind the camera (you can see that his eyes are not focusing on the camera)? Better not! Unless you're Rand Fishkin from, don't do whiteboard!

Cats tend to work better. Ok, you probably can't use cats in car sales videos (unless we're talking about a very clever cat) but viral car videos can be made by anyone. We've all seen the Pepsi Max viral video showing Jeff Gordon causing a car salesman heart attack (well, almost). If you haven't seen it, check out the following:

And I know, you can tell me all about the enormous budget and how it's impossible to replicate the same 'virality' for a small car dealer. But actually, if you take Jeff Gordon's fee out of equation, how much would it cost to do a similar non-celeb video? Providing you've got access to some non-public roads, the answer is very little. You just need a good camera and somebody to operate it (have you got a university nearby? Students love these sorts of projects for their portfolios!) and you can create a similar video on a very low budget.

We’re still looking for the right way to incorporate videos in our digital strategy. So far we can confirm that guys (or girls) in front of a whiteboard don't work. An original video-review on the other hand – does.

For fairness sake, yes, we did a lot to promote the video. Nevertheless it still shows that the quality of content is paramount. Before writing a script for your first car video, ask yourself a question: "are my Facebook friends likely to share this video if I ask them to?"

What happens to the good old traditional car salesman operating from his car lot? Is he counting his days? Not yet – car salesmen who are happy to embrace the new technology will prosper and close more sales than ever.

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