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Monday, December 18, 2006

The Impact of Changing Your Dealership Website

Most sales in any company result from only a handful of customer situations. Frequently a prospect is simply dissatisfied with their current situation. At Higher Turnover we seem to get a lot of car dealers calling us because they’re unhappy with their current provider. So what actually happens when a dealership changes their website provider? What are the implications if they just change the look of their dealership site? The simple answer to these two complex questions is that a lot can happen. Let’s take a look at each one:

Changing Your Website Company: Think about it from a search engine perspective. If you decide to change providers, it’s important that you choose a reputable one who understands search engine optimization and marketing. Sometimes your old site may have elements that are favorable to search engine placement, and some elements may hurt you. Knowing the difference is key, and if you don’t know the difference, trust the experts. We have done redesigns recently for clients who really liked their previous design but were just victims of poor customer service. Some of these designs may have looked OK years ago, but 8 or 9 years on the internet is an eternity. I suppose it’s part of someone’s comfort level; if a website has worked in the past they may not be comfortable changing it – they just want to change who manages it. What these dealers typically don’t realize is that the “look” of a website is a small part of how well it performs. I know other industry professionals getting ready to comment on that already, but hear me out. Looks are important as they can project a level of respectability and professionalism, but things such as overall structure can be much more important. Our sites are designed to quickly funnel customers from the homepage, to the cars, down to one car, and ultimately to pick up the phone and call the dealer. Content and structure are most important, and this helps in the search engines as well. Dealers are amazed when we show them how their current site looks to the search engines, and even more amazed if a small change jumps their site up toward the top of the search results.

Changing the Look of Your Dealer Website: I know I just said looks aren’t the most important aspect of a dealer site, but they are definitely important. Radical changes to overall design can sometimes confuse customers that visit frequently, unless you brand your site in a way that makes it instantly recognizable as your own. Design changes from time to time can be good and help keep interest of your customers, much like dynamic content. Look at Google for example. Although their homepage is extremely simple in design, they make subtle changes to their logo from time to time depending on the occasion. If you’ve ever been to Google around the holidays you’ve probably noticed their logo “dressed up” a little with Easter Eggs, Thanksgiving themes, or Christmas trees. This is a good example of subtle changes to keep interest of repeat visitors. The overall look and feel of the page doesn’t change at all. Changes are something that should be taken into account when shopping around for website providers for your dealership. Some companies charge additional fees if you want to add or edit pages on your site down the road. If you think you’re getting a good deal on a website, make sure you really know what you’re paying over the long-term. If you’re thinking of changing providers for your site, be sure to ask the companies to evaluate your current site and determine what the strengths and weaknesses are. Sometimes dealers want to change for the wrong reasons, and as a straightforward company we’ll tell it like it is. If it doesn’t make sense to change things up based on your objectives, we recommend against it.

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