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From: Jared Hamilton
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PAUL ACCINNO

PAUL ACCINNO CEO

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With Responsive Dealer Websites, It's not About the Looks. It's the ROI that Matters.

Responsive Website ROI

One of the most compelling parts about responsive websites for car dealers is that they can be very attractive. The flexibility across different screen sizes gives them the ability to utilize all of the space properly, resulting in some of the best looking websites on the web.

This is great. It's also a minor point. The things that make responsive websites superior to other websites can be found in the numbers. It's the results that matter, the ROI, so I encourage dealers to dive deeper before they make decisions based upon asthetics.

Keep in mind that I own a company that provides responsive websites to dealers, so don't take this article as a stab against them. We became firm believers in responsive as the best way to build dealer websites long ago. The reasons why we love responsive websites are numerous and have very little to do with the appearance. The fact that they look amazing is a bonus, not a reason to use them.

Here are some of the real reasons that dealers should look at responsive over adaptive, mobile, or desktop-only websites:

  • Most of the Industry is Converting (at least attempting to convert): I get amused when I see another website provider who was staunchly against responsive design in the past making the switch today. Even the larger OEM-level providers are or have attempted switching to responsive. This is a sign that they're seeing the benefits and wanting to take advantage of them.
  • They Can Save Dealers Money: I have to stress the word "can" in this statement. There are plenty of responsive websites out there in the $1000-$2000 per month range which means that a dealer is likely not saving money with those, but if you have a reasonably priced responsive website solution, you no longer have to pay the extra to have a mobile website. When built properly, they are often less expensive than their adaptive counterparts.
  • Responsive is Ideal for Content Marketing, SEO, and Social Media: The consistency in content that is inherent in responsive websites makes them perfect for those dealers who are trying to dominate. That's why I wanted this article on Driving Sales. If you're reading this, you probably fall into that category and thus you're likely to want to improve your content, organic search, and social media marketing.

There are plenty of other reasons, but the appearance of the website is not one of them. When we look at ROI, we take into consideration reasons such as the ones I listed. The industry's (and most of the internet's) shift towards responsive websites means that people inside and outside of the industry are seeing return on their investment. Otherwise, the crowd mentality would not be embracing it so readily.

Saving money on your web presence while improving your content, SEO, and social media makes the ROI equation easy to solve. More sales for fewer dollars - that's what ROI is all about.

There are good and bad responsive websites. There are good looking and bad looking ones. The real key to making the most out of them is to make decisions based upon results rather than appearance.

Evan Brown
How can you look at ROI without in some way measuring your "user experience"? A good responsive site usually functions similarly to the way the site functions on desktop, but what if the functionality of the site is still bad on desktop? And what if the content, SEO and social media is all there but the site urges people to bounce? The way a site looks, feels, and functions has a lot more to do with ROI than you think.
PAUL ACCINNO
You misunderstand, Evan. I'm not saying that appearance isn't important. I'm saying that it shouldn't be the deciding factor. You have to look at the numbers to determine if everything is working properly. Unfortunately, we've talked to many dealers who have sites that are drastically underperforming, but they really love the way they look so they keep them. Think of it like a race car. The sleek style and attractive curves do more than make them look great. They have an impact on the performance as well. However, someone might have a better looking car that has aerodynamic problems. Looks great, performs poorly. A dealer's website works the same way. I hope you don't think I'm suggesting that you should make your site ugly and focus only on all of the other 99 factors that go into ROI. That would be ignorant. I'm in a position where I see dealers regularly who focus all of their attention on the look and feel of the website and put no thought to the other marketing aspects that go into it. I certainly hope you're not condoning that type of mentality.
Evan Brown
Well of course not Paul, I'm just condoning the mentality of starting at user experience and building out from there. The aesthetics should follow.
PAUL ACCINNO
Then we agree :) Nice meeting you Evan and thanks for your input!
Tom Thornton
Great discussion starter Paul. I am glad we are finally turning the corner on mobile websites vs responsive. There is some confusion that still lingers. I have found the need to change the appearance of our responsive websites to improve ROI and user experience. Our beginning with responsive websites gave us just a crushed down versions of our websites with a nav menu. Looked nice enough, but awkward for users. I started looking at heat mapping and analytics and decided to makes some changes to our sites when they were down to the phone size. With the use of buttons, I brought to the "surface" ( and right under users thumb) the most sought after info or section of the sites. SCHEDULE SERVICE - CALL SERVICE - CALL SALES - SEARCH USED - SEARCH NEW I left the nav menu intact to allow for other options for the visitor. Immediately I saw a jump in the conversions to online service appointments, calls and VLP's down to VDP's from the so called "mobile site".

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