Your Site’s a Lot Faster Without the Canoe on Top!

view of car outside a lake, with a canoe on top

When I was young my parents had a red Subaru hatchback. We’d take that little car camping all over the backcountry, and we’d load enough stuff for a family of four to survive the wilderness for a weekend (and then some) on top of the roof–including a wooden canoe! Loaded up like that, her bumpers barely cleared the road and she sure didn’t win any awards for speed. But, she did get us to where we wanted to go… eventually.

Your website is an awful lot like a car. Continue reading “Your Site’s a Lot Faster Without the Canoe on Top!”

Why You Should Treat Your Site’s Navigation Like You Would Your Showroom

Businessman in the middle of the maze. Concepts of finding a solution, problem solving, challenge etc. 3D illustration

Let’s start off with a quick anecdote, shall we? Let’s suppose that you go into your local luxury car dealership to find a brand new sedan. The first thing you notice as you step into the showroom are 30 sedans from the last three decades, all in seemingly new condition. Intrigued by this, you make your way through the maze of vehicles searching for a  salesperson.

Eventually you find a huge, wall mounted-TV screen which you assume will have information that will aid you. At first glance, the TV seems to be displaying the weather, but after staring at the screen for 10 minutes you realize that’s the extent of the information on the TV. Excellent, you are now caught up on the weather–but you still have no information on sedans (or an answer as to why there are multiple vehicles spanning multiple decades). At this moment, you (the customer) are faced with more questions than when you originally came into the dealership. Continue reading “Why You Should Treat Your Site’s Navigation Like You Would Your Showroom”

Good Design is a Lot Like a Good Marriage…

happy couple cheering because they got married!

Something that I learned after being married, is that communication is key. If you have a good line of communication then your relationship will do great!  Expressing your likes and dislikes will help you to improve your relationship and better yourself. I call it companionship inventory. The way companionship inventory works best, is by utilizing the “hamburger method”. The buns are the compliments and the criticism is the stuff in the middle–you may have heard it referred to in another, not-as-delicious type of sandwich. Continue reading “Good Design is a Lot Like a Good Marriage…”

MDA UnWorkshop Recap: All About Local SEO

Local SEO loading

I recently attended the UnWorkshop event put on by MDA for Edmonton and Calgary automotive dealers. The moderators for the event, Jay Radke and Michael Cirillo, keep these events more hands on and collaborative—and less about being presented to.

This event was focused on local SEO with Darren Shaw, founder of the Edmonton agency WhiteSpark, and he performed a live audit in each city for one of the dealerships attending. Darren focused on 5 key areas during his audit, Google My Business, Reviews, Citations, Website, and Links. Below are a few key takeaways from the conference. Continue reading “MDA UnWorkshop Recap: All About Local SEO”

Trust Us: Using your Site to Build Credibility

Trust banner and icons

For any business, credibility is key in maintaining a high level of customer service and, in turn, a high level of customer loyalty. This is especially important for the automotive sales industry, the long-time favourite butt of many a joke aimed at the quintessential “used car salesman” and his well-greased “what do I have to do to put you in this car today, sir-or-madam” approach to business. How then is a dealership best advised when it comes to building a reputation that the consumer will trust? Focusing on the area of online presence, this post will outline a few of the steps you should take (or, frankly should have already taken) to help ensure that the legend of the sleazy car lot doesn’t haunt your reputation on the net! Continue reading “Trust Us: Using your Site to Build Credibility”

A Note on Importance

Orange and white text reading if everything is important then nothing is important.

I don’t know about you, but I loved watching the Pixar movie The Incredibles when I was growing up. It’s a movie about how, in a fantastical world of superpowers, you lose sight of the regular, everyday people. At least that’s how I see it. When the villain’s plan is revealed, it comes with a line that’s stuck with me for the last fourteen years:

“When everyone is super, no one will be.”

Continue reading “A Note on Importance”

Picture Perfect: The Difference Between Vector & Raster Graphics

Industrial robots begins to create artistic painting.

Have you ever wondered about the difference between vector and a raster graphics? Probably not. But have you ever wondered why the file you downloaded is twice as big as normal? Or why the image you’ve used for your website is pixelated? Well, read on and we’ll explain to you the difference between vector graphics and raster graphics. Continue reading “Picture Perfect: The Difference Between Vector & Raster Graphics”

Improving User Experience

some designs on paper, beside a laptop

A day rarely goes by at the Strathcom office where I (or one of my design team) don’t receive a request to change/edit/add/remove/update the design or layout elements on our websites. The intent of the request is usually to draw more attention to a piece of a client’s website or to increase conversions. However, sometimes these requests unintentionally do the opposite and negatively impact the usability of the website and, can potentially result in a lost user (and ultimately a lost sale). All because they neglect one crucial element: user experience. Continue reading “Improving User Experience”

A Modest Request…

child dressed up as retro business man

In the wonderful world of web, we as consumers are exposed to subliminal messages and overbearing marketing lists that have become second nature. And while automotive dealers have a plethora of knowledge, having seen the industry progress firsthand, some of the marketing ploys they ask for get lost in translation due to the stimulus-overload we are already in the midst of. Simply put, there are too many features available on websites, and everytime we add a new feature something gets lost in the shuffle. We, as designers, are often tasked with creating carousel slides to catch the eye while there are better tools available. If you read my last blog, about trusting your designer, then you’ll remember that sharing your vision and goals is an important part of the process — but letting us help guide you with our professional knowledge is just as important. After all the main goal is to improve the communication from Dealership to Marketing Manager to Designer, culminating in getting the message through to the customer loud and clear. And as a former dealership employee, marketing manager, designer, and customer, I can tell you with all honesty that these lanes of communication could be improved. Continue reading “A Modest Request…”

Trust Me, I’m an Expert!

Closeup side view of group of late 20's multi ethnic team of web designers working on a project. They are divided into small groups, some working on a computer and some testing mobile platforms on digital tablets and smartphones.

 

Web Designer (noun)

a person who plans, designs, creates, and often maintains websites.

By definition, the title of web designer seems simple. Someone who makes and maintains websites. However, it seems like even the most expert of designers spend much of their time trying to predict what a client wants instead of creating beautiful pieces of art. What caused this? Continue reading “Trust Me, I’m an Expert!”

Hey, You! Click That CTA Button!

Happy senior man using computer at home, smiling at camera...

In our digital world, website users are often assaulted by an array of visual cues on a daily basis. They may have hurdles like chat pop-ups and video pops-ups just to  find what they were looking for in the first place.

Often, we spend so much time creating purposeful content and design elements to guide our users, that we may forget to discuss one of the most important elements  — the Call To Action (or CTA). Depending on your goal, you want to ensure that your users are prompted to complete the actions you’ve created on landing pages; you know, the actions that lead to conversions. Continue reading “Hey, You! Click That CTA Button!”

3 Things That Our Favourite Dealerships Do

3 things that our favourite dealerships do

“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”

You probably expected me to start off with the most popular Yoda quote, “Do or do not; there is no try” — but that’s not always true. We have plenty of dealers who try very hard to ‘do internet.’ But we also know that many of our contacts at dealerships work with a team full of people who all have different goals at stake, and are all asking for a variety of changes to their websites that they think will help accomplish those goals. By the time those ideas get back to the web team (content strategists and web designers), we’re often missing a few of the pieces of the puzzle. Don’t get us wrong — we’ll still do whatever we can to help, but it’s a lot easier to do that with a little extra information. Continue reading “3 Things That Our Favourite Dealerships Do”

What are the Ideal Sizes for My Image Sliders?

The Strathcom website platform uses multiple aspect ratios for image sliders, which offers flexibility within different responsive views. To make updating your site even easier, we’ve collected the recommended image sizes for our most popular slider ratios. So what are the ideal sizes for image sliders?

What are the ideal sizes for image sliders

The 4 Strathcom Image Slider Aspect Ratios

4:3 – “The Mobile Slider”

For the most part, the 4:3 ratio is garnered for mobile-specific views. This allows your image to be properly sized to the device in both content layout and file sizes for fast loading speeds. We suggest using images at 500×375 pixels.

16:9 – “Tablet and Mobile Views”

Use this aspect ratio for your sliders if you want to use the same image across mobile and tablet devices but want to ensure your pages load quickly. We suggest using images at 960×540 pixels.

68:7 – “Banner View”

This aspect ratio is great for desktop views. Its small form-factor allows for easy placement anywhere on your page without distracting users from your overall website content. We suggest using images at 1800×185 pixels.

21:9 – “Multi-Purpose For All Devices”

The 21:9 ratio option is the most versatile and popular. It can be used for designs on any device or responsive view, from mobile to large desktop screens. We suggest using images at 2100×900 pixels.

Now that you’re armed with knowledge about what are the ideal sizes for image sliders and you’re ready to start up a new PhotoShop document, remember with great power comes great responsibility. Don’t forget to optimize your images; we’ve got a few quick tips to ensure you aren’t slowing down your page load speeds with your amazing promotion slide.

4 Ways to Make Your Mobile Site Better, According to Google Best Practices

In the latest article from  Google Best Practices, Google gave 4 Tips for a Frictionless Mobile Experience. Not all of their tips necessarily apply to the automotive industry, but these are 4 simple ways to make your mobile site better.

Woman using tablet at night, visiting a mobile site

Make it Responsive

Continue reading “4 Ways to Make Your Mobile Site Better, According to Google Best Practices”

Mobile Site Speed Matters. Are you up to speed?

Consumers and search engines have a certain level of expectation for mobile site speed and performance. If your site has problems that go unchecked, it can have a big impact. We have all visited a mobile site that has taken too long to load, got impatient, and left. Continue reading “Mobile Site Speed Matters. Are you up to speed?”

CMS Update: Silent Salesman’s New Style

technology updates with a laptop computer.

Here at Strathcom, we are constantly working on new features and new ways to provide the best experience for our clients. Here are just a few things that we updated in the last week: Continue reading “CMS Update: Silent Salesman’s New Style”

Online Presence: why it is vital in today’s car buying process

typing on a laptop

As consumers, we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. It’s no doubt that the research process during the car buying experience has changed dramatically. According to studies by Google, “consumers in their early research moment, such as which car-is-best or is-it-right for me moments, are signaling intent to visit a dealership within a week”. A visit to your website is ideally followed by a visit to the dealership. So, for automotive retailers, having a strong digital presence is crucial.

According to Google, the car buyers’ thought process looks a little something like this:

  • Which car is best?
  • Is it right for me?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Where should I buy it?
  • Am I getting a deal?
Which car is best?

One of the most impactful mediums for consumers looking to make a vehicle purchase is video. In fact, when buying a car, 69% are influenced by video opposed to other mediums such as TV, newspapers or magazines. When using the search network, the most common searched terms are “[brand/make] + reviews”, “[brand/make] + specs” and “best luxury cars”. 

Is it right for me?

After consumers have narrowed down their search, they begin their hunt to find out if the vehicle is right for their lifestyle and needs. This is where the consumers discover features/options and the interior/exterior aesthetic. This is mainly a visual process, and a majority of time is spent looking at photos. The photo searches of “[brand/make]” is up 37%  and 80% of these searches are now happening on mobile.

Can I afford it? Where should I buy it? Am I getting a deal?

After the first two questions have been answered, the consumer generally begins searching for a dealership. This is where the individual dealer’s web presence will become a factor. Dealers need to make sure that they are showcasing OEM incentives, internal promotions, as well as leasing/financing information. But most importantly, prices need to be shown because that is what the customer is ultimately looking for. Dealers should also make sure that their site provides a positive user experience; something as simple as having an unresponsive webpage can impact whether or not a user decides to visit the dealership.

Dealers also need to utilize tools such as Google+ reviews, automotive forums, Unhaggle, and other mediums that customers use to help them make their decision.car salesman congratulates a family for buying car

Despite the evolving methods of how consumers access information, the end of the process always ends at the dealership. As consumers come into dealerships equipped with their researched knowledge, they expect sales staff to also be product-experts. In order for manufacturers and dealers to fully understand the decision making avenues of the buyer, they must understand the small “micro-transactions” involved throughout the entire procedure. Having a strong digital presence in each of the avenues will always set a dealer ahead of the competition.

To find out more about how to improve your online presence and get more leads, give us a call today or subscribe to our newsletter!

A Look Back at a Successful Year

2016 was a very successful year for Strathcom Media.

We strengthened partnerships, made new partnerships, and even developed and launched a brand new WordPress website platform.

New Website Platform

Last year we had a dream. A dream that resulted in us investing over a million dollars into developing a brand new website platform that was jam packed with new tools for dealers.

Less than a year later, we began moving our dealers onto our all new WordPress platform with technologies like Personalization, Geo-Fencing, Notepad, Silent Salesman and more. This new platform is faster, more secure, and more user friendly so dealers can spend less time making changes to their site and more time selling cars.

New Opportunities with Google

We spent a lot more time with Google in 2016, and even achieved Premier Google Partner status!

In addition to Google breakfasts and hangouts in Vancouver and Toronto, we also held our very first Google event in our hometown of Edmonton, Alberta in June. We also held a contest in September to bring 6 lucky winners to Google’s newest & coolest office in Waterloo, Ontario!

New Partnerships

In 2016 we became a Provider for the Mercedes-Benz Canada Dealer Website Program, and a Preferred Website Vendor for the Kia Dealer Website Certification Program.

We also became a Facebook Marketing Partner and recently hosted our very first Facebook webinar for FCA dealers!

New Conferences

In addition to speaking at conferences like AR Canada and DSES, we also had the opportunity to speak at the first annual Women & Automotive conference in Toronto. We also attended several events including Western Canadian Dealer Summit and ThinkAuto.

We were also included in AR Canada’s Power 200 List for 2016!

New Office

And finally, last month we packed up and moved just up the road into our new office. A new location means a new atmosphere, and a new atmosphere means fresh ideas for the new year.

Thank you to all of our customers for their support, and we look forward to what 2017 has to bring!

Google’s Top 5 Principles from Think Auto

Back in the fall, we attended Google Think Auto and gave you our key takeaways. Now Google has given us their top 5 principles from their 2016 Think Auto research!

Google talked to 5,000 Canadian car buyers while they were in the “thinking”, “researching”, and “buying” stages and found out how Canadians shop for cars and how dealers can reach them in the key moments of their buying journey. We have summarized the results of their research and what these results mean for Canadian car dealers.

customer buying stages

Continue reading “Google’s Top 5 Principles from Think Auto”