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Jared Hamilton
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Kevin McKillop

Kevin McKillop Owner

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Thousands In Lost Sales When You Frame Your Inventory On Your Website.

Click here to watch Framing Your Inventory Original Video

Dealers framing their inventory and the dangers that represents for VDP page views. 

The practise of ‘framing’ your inventory pages seems to continue till this day in 2013 using a technology created and used many moons ago. It’s very old school, it’s bad for business and to put it bluntly, it’s just being cheap!

But you’re really not saving any money using frames, and that’s usually why dealers implement them. It’s an easier and cheaper path to displaying inventory on their website without having to pay for developers or high priced website vendors, especially if they already have their inventory listed somewhere else!

The funny part about this is, the savings is near sighted and the costs to your dealership could be in the tens of thousands over the long term.
Let me explain frames quickly so we can then talk about why they’re terrible and cost your dealership sales, month after month.

Frames are a way of having one website display content from another website in-line. So it “appears” that the information you’re looking at is from the website you are visiting, but in fact that information is put in a window (frame) on the site and pulled from a completely different website.

A dead giveaway of framed inventory is when you look at VDP pages and the URL at the top of your browser remains the same, when you click from one vehicle to the next the URL will never change. This means what you’re looking at is 1 site framing the content of another site. Every single page you look at according to your web browser is 1 single page and that frame or window is actually displaying different pages from a completely different website.

You’ve likely seen it before but may not have been aware of what was happening, because it ‘looked’ okay, unfortunately, this isn’t about looks, it’s about exposure, traffic, marketing, sales and more.

The first thing to point out is this, anything that you view in the frame cannot be directly linked to. That means nobody can share, link, email, pass along or reference an individual VDP of a vehicle they’re interested in, it’s hidden in a frame.

You cannot advertise individual vehicles in your inventory, again there is no direct link to that vehicle, only a frame with everything.

Now some could say you can send them directly to where the frame gets it information from, but then you’re sending people AWAY from your fancy website, bleeding traffic to some other site where your actual VDP exists.

You get no SEO benefit from having updated content on your website, and individual pages that will show up in searches when people are looking for vehicles.

You cannot run PPC ads for individual vehicles, or even categories of vehicles, all you can do is send them to the starting frame, typically new or used. Because of this issue, your website misses out on anywhere from 10% to 25% of traffic. We measured this across a number of client sites and this represents the number of visitors who came directly to a VDP page. Using frames means that traffic is lost to a competitor who doesn’t frame their inventory.

Cobalt released a study this week “9 million reasons why VDP views are the metric that matters.  They compared the average number of days a vehicle remains in inventory vs. the average views per VDP. Based on an eight month study of 9 million VDPs, 125 million website visits and 250 million online actions, they conclusively show that:

  1. VDP views and time spent on VDP’s are 2 of the top 4 online sales predictors.
  2. VDP’s with 20-30 page views spend 29% less time on the lot.
  3. VDP’s with more than 30 page views spend 44% less time on the lot.

If you’re trying to increase your VDP views, it’s imperative that you do not frame your inventory, nobody can find it through a search, nobody can link to it directly, you can’t advertise it in anyway with links to it, you’re missing out on a lot of business by essentailly hiding your VDP pages.

Frames were chosen because it was cheaper and easier but you’re left in a losing situation costing your more than the initial investment you tried to avoid, Pay up and get rid of those frames, in the long run, you’re far better off.

So if you are framing I encourage you to set some plans and budget to eliminate those immediately.

Jared Hamilton
Kevin - we recently looked at a dealers website where they were framing in inventory, and next to the car, on the VDP page was a "search our inventory button". We clicked it, put in some correction to the inventory we were looking for, and a list of competitors popped up. In other words, this dealership was framing in inventory from the OEM site. Well, the OEM site doesnt really care where the consumer buys the car. So here this poor dealer was working hard to drive traffic to their site, finally got the visitor to the all important VDP page, only to let the consumer pull up inventory, and get directions to the competitive dealer down the road... How is that for a dealership nightmare - having YOUR website point visitors to your competitors lot - all due to framed inventory. Framing inventory is bad news, youve done a great job of pointing out the pitfalls. Well done.
Ryan Thompson
Awesome article! I actually put this fun little Slideshow together a few weeks ago to add a visual to the crime of I-Framing inventory. Dealers in Canada are still doing cause "I'm saving $1000 per month by not using one of them web companies"
Kevin McKillop
Ryan - I saw that slide show Ryan! haha, it reminded me it was something I wanted to talk about actually, as I was only recently checking out a few dealers and found them using frames. Worse part was they did put effort into their site, try to make it different appealing etc. They put a lot of effort into online, and then I see the frames. Jared - That is brutal. I haven't seen that come up but I can absolutely see how that could very easily happen to anyone framing, even worse framing the wrong thing.
Jason Mickelson
Kevin - Nice explanation of what not to do and why. Hard to believe we still see it happening. I know where one is today, too. We also converted another client of ours 6 months ago. Well worth the extra money.

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