6 Tips to Make Shooting Video an Integral Part of Your Merchandising Strategy


Potential customers are looking at your dealership and your competition for reasons to pick one over the other, and they’re making those decisions quickly. According to J.D. Power, in-market shoppers are visiting fewer dealerships than ever (1.4 down from 5), and arrive on the lot more informed, thanks to extensive car shopping research online. This means that your website needs to be as engaging and informative as possible. Dealership-shot inventory video is one of the best digital tools you can use to increase shopper engagement on your website, as it serves as a bridge that moves potential customers from behind their screens and into your showroom.

Let’s learn how to construct your website’s inventory video experience, learn about your customers’ online needs, and leverage video’s capabilities to build time on site, nurture trust, and entrench itself as an integral part of your social media strategy. Here are six ways to get started:

1. Start with sound quality.

Just because you’re shooting video doesn’t mean you don’t have to consider how it sounds. Poor audio quality is going to cause your viewers to bounce – and probably discourage them from continuing down the road to the sale.

Focus on audio quality first before you begin with camera work. Decide if you are in the market for a wireless or a wired microphone – either will do. A smartphone-compatible microphone is best, since it integrates with your mobile device and all of the video editing tools available through it. Wired mics are great if you’re shooting video yourself, but the wireless variety is best if shooting as a team.


2. Keep it short, sweet, and pretty.

Start with a manageable scope to keep your video strategy achievable. Keep the videos on each of your vehicle models to less than two minutes. According to a 2015 Cox Automotive Consumer Video Research Study, you’ve lost your audience with anything over 180 seconds. Stay on point, keep it crisp and clear, and be professional. Practice these two-minutes-or-less “presentations” at least twice before recording. If the recording doesn’t meet your expectations, re-record.

Some things to consider when shooting:

– Make sure to get some wide angle shots of the whole vehicle at the beginning or end of the video. Shoppers want to see the whole car.

– A little planning goes a long way, especially if you have a camera operator other than yourself. Known in the film and theater industry as ‘blocking’, decide on your positioning and movement throughout each video ahead of time to allow your camera operator to easily follow you when shooting. (i.e. start with the exterior front to back, then move to the interior).

– Keep the camera as steady as possible. You might even consider picking up a smartphone stabilizer.

– If it’s a sunny day, shoot in a shaded area or keep the sun to either side of you so you’re not shooting directly into the sun or you’re not seeing the camera operator’s shadow in the video.

Here’s how NOT to shoot:



And here’s how to do it:


Clap, clap, clap!

3. Make a YouTube channel for your dealership.

It’s the easiest way to distribute your dealership videos. Since there are plenty of blogs and videos with instructions on creating a YouTube channel and uploading videos, we don’t need to go into detail here. But, basically, using YouTube to host your videos starts with a unique Google account for your business, an appropriately named channel, and an on-brand profile picture and channel art. Consider:

– Adding a quality image to the header, or channel art, of your YouTube profile.

– Including a relevant, on-brand profile image, or channel icon.

– Filling out any information about your dealership and why customers should view your videos.

– Incorporating your dealership’s value prop. Why should customers buy a car from you?

4. Add video to your Dealer.com Website.

Dealer.com clients are able to add video to their websites in a variety of ways. Using the YouTube widget in ControlCenter or creating a vehicle walk-around page that lives within your site navigation are two of the most common methods. Remember, videos should inform, but they can be highly engaging and trust-building, so put them to use. (For Dealer.com clients: check out our “Working with Social Widgets” tutorial, which, among other things, shows you how to add a video to a webpage by copying and pasting the YouTube video ID at the end of the URL string. See the video below:)


Your Dealer.com team is a great resource, too. Your Digital Advisor and Digital Specialist are here to talk strategy and help you make your digital presence as strong as it can be.

If you’re looking to replace your inventory videos on your vehicle listings (VLP) and details pages (VDP), Mobile Lot Capture can be a great solution. For Dealer.com customers, use the app from your smartphone to create dynamic videos that will auto populate on your VLP and VDP.

5. Use Analytics to evaluate your videos’ performance.

Video gives you loads of data that you can use to gauge your videos’ impact, including:

– Time on page, lead generation, phone calls, bounce rate, and exits.

– Overall website performance in terms of, time on site, average VDP views per visitor, and any other key metrics for your business.

– Style and length of video your viewers were most engaged with (for those dealers using YouTube and its audience retention reports).

Think about polling your customers to see where they’re getting their information. We know customers are arriving at dealerships “unannounced” – meaning no phone call or form submission. Odds are they are doing most of their research prior to their surprise arrival, most likely on your website. Ask them if they viewed the video walk-arounds, or the videos on the VDPs.

6. Review, rework, repeat.

If performance in key areas increased as a result of your videos, and your business saw a positive result, great! You are off to a solid start. If not, identify things to do differently next time. Use the feedback from your customers and performance data to fine tune your video strategy. After learning from your first videos, make a second round. You’ve learned what performs best, and if you’re featuring sales staff in your videos, they’ll have the experience of the first time to make their second video go ‘rounds more crisp, concise, and impactful. Make sure to promote the videos within your dealership as well as externally, to get everyone onboard the video strategy.

Brandon St. Cyr, Jillian Charest, and Patrick Wyld are all part of the Dealer.com Learning Solutions Team