6 signs its time to leave website vendor - LMi Atlanta GA - Automotive Digital Marketing

6 Signs You Need to Break Up with Your Website Vendor

Is Your Website Vendor Limiting Your Dealership Growth? – Local Marketing, Inc. in Atlanta, GA

Dealerships face unique challenges when it comes to working with website vendors. OEMs have been known to be strict about which website platforms they deem eligible for co-op funds, with many restricting dealers to just one or two. These restraints often lead to a grass-is-greener mentality, as dealers become increasingly disappointed with their platforms with no way to relieve their frustration.

But that is now changing. As of September 13th, 2019, General Motors is joining other OEMs like FCA and Ford to allow more approved website vendors, much to the relief of many dealers. But before you rip up that contract, consider: should you switch? If you’re reading this, it may be because you’re already about to throw in the towel with your current vendor–or maybe you’re content but are curious to see if you’re missing out on something better. Either way, if you find your vendor guilty of any crime on this list, we think there’s a legitimate reason to think about switching.

6 Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Website Vendor in the Dust

Consider breaking up with your vendor if:

  1. They’re not responsive to issues. Struggling to get in touch with someone to fix a problem on your home page? Inventory issues taking too long to get resolved? If your vendor doesn’t make your needs a priority, maybe it’s time to make ditching them your priority.
  2. They only offer you cookie-cutter solutions. If there’s one thing dealerships know about sales, it’s that one size NEVER fits all. So if you feel you’re limiting your own sales potential with an average, basic website that looks like everyone else’s, remember there are other fish in the sea.
  3. They limit your access to the backend. Do you have the freedom to optimize your website to its fullest potential? Your database, content, plugins and other crucial parts of your website are housed in the backend. Your website vendor should be making sure you should have full access to these tools.
  4. Site speed is slow. A slow site means the backend is being poorly managed. A famous 2015 Microsoft study found the average adult’s attention span is a whopping eight seconds–would you rather your customer spend that eight seconds waiting for your website to load, or engaging with your content? (FYI: most customers will bounce from a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load, anyway.) You can test your site speed with Google’s free tool here: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/testmysite.
  5. They don’t optimize your site for mobile browsers. Time equals money, and editing your mobile site separately from the desktop version eats away at your time. Because Google now heavily factors mobile usability into its search ranking algorithm, it’s more important than ever to make sure your vendor is optimizing your site for the small screen. Fun fact: 80% of smartphone owners said they’re more likely to buy from companies with user-friendly mobile sites.
  6. Your platform is not SEO friendly. If you can’t edit metadata at the page level, or create custom inventory pages for your most popular models, you’re already missing out on potentially higher search rankings (*cough* CDK). If your OEM will allow you to switch, hop on that one-way train out of there!

Website Vendors’ Dirty Little Secret

Suddenly realizing your vendor is a 2 out of 10? Ready to start moving on? Hold on there, partner.

Think about what you really own in this “divorce” and what’s yours to take when you part ways. You may not realize that many website vendors and digital agencies consider the work they do on your behalf “proprietary”–meaning if you cancel, all the content, SEM campaigns, and analytics you’ve built up over time go out the door with the vendor. You’ll be starting from scratch, and your SEO ranking will take a huge hit before you even begin the arduous process of replatforming. It’s sad, but in many cases, true.

This is why it’s important to know what’s truly yours to keep before you partner with a vendor or agency and change website platforms. Are you just “leasing” your own marketing materials, or are you the true owner of your online business? Sometimes it can be hard to tell, and most companies won’t spell this out for you.

This is why Local Marketing, Inc. (LMi) stands out in the crowded digital market. At LMi, we make it crystal clear that all the content we produce for you is yours. Even if you cancel with us (although we hope you don’t), you keep all your digital assets, so you never have to start over again–cheers to that!

GM Announced on September 13, 2019 New Approved Website Vendors for Dealers

So if you’ve decided to change website vendors, as many Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac clients are likely to do now that GM has announced new approved vendors–don’t do it alone. The process of transferring all your content is time-consuming, complex, and involved. Have an agency like LMi on your side that’s done this before, guaranteeing you assistance from an expert.

What needs to happen when you switch website vendors?

  1. Add your Google Analytics code to your new site when you launch. You don’t want to lose any past data.
  2. Use Search Console to look for crawl errors. When you change vendors, the URL structure of key pages throughout your site will most likely not be the same, which can hurt SEO. Search Console is a free Google tool that monitors your site looking for search engine crawl errors. Install this code into your backend for routine audits of your site and alerts of any serious errors.
  3. Update your paid search campaigns. Different website vendors use different URL structures. When you change vendors, your URLs likely changed, and need to be updated in Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and any other 3rd party vendors you work with.
  4. Update internal links. When you transfer content, make sure all links within your site link to the new URL.
  5. Update conversion tracking and goals. Once your new site launches, you or your vendor should update your site’s goals in Google Analytics.
  6. Convey key information about your dealership. When you change vendors, make sure your vendor is aware of your key differentiators, areas you want to target, and other important information to optimize your website to your business. Also, post-launch, make sure you or your SEO vendor comb the site and make sure key pages are SEO friendly.

We know this is a lot of information. But when you have a marketing company like LMi in your corner, you have a main point of contact during this changeover, taking care of the complicated aspects of the change. This will help make sure that you see the least amount of decreased traffic during the transition. Remember, any time you change website vendors, your website traffic will decline before it goes back up. And it will only rise again if you invest in localized content, technical SEO, paid search, and following Google’s best practices. If you do, you’ll be up and running again in no time.

Who is on the approved vendor list for GM?

  • CDK Global
  • Dealer.com
  • DealerInspire
  • DealerOn

If you’re unsure which vendor to choose, we recommend talking with each one individually. Sit through presentations and ask lots of questions to decide who’s the best fit for you. If you opt for a marketing company like LMi to help with your transition, we can help by handling most of the heavy lifting, no matter which vendor you choose. With us, you’ll also get the peace of mind knowing you own all your digital spaces going forward.

Bottom Line: Your Dealership’s Website is Worth the Effort

Deciding to restructure your entire website may seem overwhelming, but it’s far less exhausting than the frustration of your website vendor waving one or more of the red flags above. Remember that in today’s digital world, your website is one of your most valuable marketing assets (in other words, your virtual front door). It’s your first impression for many consumers, especially younger generations, and should be treated the same way as you would treat the front entrance of your dealership. Dazzle them online just as you would in real life, and over time, you’ll see your sales start to thrive!

For a full digital marketing experience without the drama, check out LMi. We specialize in helping potential customers find you when they are looking for things you offer but not finding you. Our approach is anything but cookie-cutter. Make sure your digital marketing is really yours with LMi. (Interested? Check out the difference you could achieve with us.)

Next, we’ll talk about the restructuring process and some crucial steps to make your replatforming experience (almost) pain-free. Stay tuned!