Shoppers who look at videos with vehicle listings on Cars.com's website spend an average of 30 minutes a visit.

That's nearly twice as long as for auto shoppers who don't view a video, says Jack Simmons, dealer training manager for Cars.com, an Internet automotive marketplace.

The use of online videos is gaining popularity as a way for dealerships to connect with customers.

“Including videos with all listings gives (dealers) an opportunity to turn shoppers into die-hard fans,” says Simmons, who hosts a new online training series, “In It to Win It,” featuring a football theme.

Among his “coaching” tips:

  • Designate one person at the dealership to enter videos. “With today's point-and-shoot cameras, it's easy.”

  • Brand videos with the dealership's logo and include “a little personality.”

  • Post the digital recordings on YouTube, Facebook and Google.

  • Get personal. “For instance, when someone asks you about a specific car, make a custom video of that car with you in it. You will make a definite connection with the shopper.”

Simmons' training program at www.WinIT2011.com coincides with Cars.com's sponsorship of “Saturday Afternoon College Football on ESPN.” He dresses like a coach on the shows.

“We're capitalizing on the fun of the football season with ‘In It To Win It,’ using it as an engaging way to help dealers maximize every opportunity to turn more shopper interest into sales and grow their businesses,” Cars.Com President Mitch Golub says.

“Playbook” tips include on how to use video, mobile and customer reviews.

Simmons says some dealers use videos to answer specific shopper inquiries, educate customers on important vehicle-service information and thank prospects for visiting the dealership.

A personalized video “is a great way to get a customer's attention,” he says. “One dealership even includes QR codes on business cards,” linking customers using mobile devices to a welcome message from a salesperson.

Some dealerships record and post videos of vehicle walk-arounds, test drives and customer testimonials.

Such efforts differentiate a dealership “and build lasting relationships with your customers,” Simmons says.