Does Your Website Reflect Your Brand?

How do customers remember your brand? What jumps out to your consumers and sets your company apart from your competitors? What are the benefits that set your brand apart from others? These are the types of questions people responsible for positioning brands focus on.

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Homepage Elements with the Highest Conversion Rates

Conversion Optimization: probably the most important topic imaginable for building car dealership websites, and a topic we’d like to shed some light on. Here’s what we at Strathcom discovered during our tests for conversion rates!Print

A Call to Action is Like Asking for the Sale

You train your Salespeople to close the deal, and the same kind of logic behind that also applies online. There’s no denying the insane importance of a Call to Action (CTA), and knowing just when and where to ask for the sale is just as important. In our tests, we excluded clicks from top-level menus. Here are the stats:

The Most Clicked-on Webpages

  • New/Used Inventory – people like to browse, so let’s suggest taking a test drive, for example
  • Specials – let’s load this page up with incentives; that’s the idea here anyways, right?
  • Service Appointment

Highest-Performing Design

Button-style CTAs outperformed “image + text” CTAs. Main CTA buttons account on average for almost half of the clicks on a webpage, making them by far the most important CTAs to include.

Best Placement

The higher above the fold, the higher the conversions.

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A Convenient Quick-Search Bar

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Users want to find what they’re looking for right away and if they don’t, they’ll go somewhere else. The stats:

Usage

One of the top-performing homepage elements to encourage conversions – we found in our tests that quick-search bars average around 20% of all site clicks.

Placement

  • Placement on the homepage doesn’t matter, as it’s consistently used wherever we put it – it’s just a matter of making it accessible
  • When placed lower on a page, users will actively scroll down to use it

A Ton of Links

One paragraph on the homepage could contain links to just about every other section of the site, giving readers an easy way of searching for and finding what they need. Stats:

Most Clicked-on Links

  • Contact Info/Location/Directions/Hours – some users are customers already, and they just want to find out where and when they can drop by, so let’s be sure they can find out easily
  • Book Service Appointment
  • View New/Used Inventory

Highest-Performing Design

Links with button styles, but ONLY when used sparingly – let’s be smart about how we use buttons.

For our testing purposes, “conversions” was defined as clicks which took a user to an internal webpage. We tested using heat maps, click maps, and Google Analytics data, and our tests were done over multiple sites with differing designs.

Strathcom at Dreamforce 2015!

What do you get when you take 160,000 people and stuff them into San Francisco for a week? One of the largest software and technology conferences in the world: Dreamforce!Strathcom was proud to attend Dreamforce '15

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[VIDEO] Responsive Web Design, or: How You Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Strathcom

In our latest video submission, Strathcom’s own David Lam explains why your auto dealership website needs to be featured on our Responsive Web Design platform.

What is a Responsive Website? It’s a platform that optimizes your website’s content for any and all possible display mediums and operating systems.

It doesn’t matter whether your customers are using

  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Old desktop PCs
  • Or TV monitors

Your website will be automatically formatted to best display and run your dealer’s vehicle photos, content, and interactive apps. The days of designing a separate desktop and mobile website are long gone!

Strathcom’s Responsive Website Platform will save you money and improve the browsing experience for your clients, no matter their mobile device. Care to see our handsome and talented Web Department Technical Lead clarify the details? Here’s the clip!

GM Dealers Can Have Their Cake and Eat It Too – Cobalt & Strathcom

With the introduction of GM Canada’s new dealer website initiative, Strathcom Media Inc. remains committed to providing a premium website service to all GM dealers. We understand that GM has mandated a website solution provided by Cobalt for all GM dealers. We also understand that GM is providing significant financial penalties to those dealers who do not comply with this mandatory initiative. While dealers must have a Cobalt site, they are NOT prevented from continuing to have their primary site developed and hosted by Strathcom Media. Strathcom can host your website, provide you with online marketing services, and give you the best tools in the business for managing your inventory online. In addition, our dedicated Online Marketing Managers (“OMMs”) are all Google Analytics and Google Adwords Certified, ensuring you get quality reporting and advice on a monthly basis. Your dedicated OMM and our entire team are always here to help.

Strathcom Website Benefits

cake2 As well as using our EasyLoader vehicle management solution and our new Market Platform tool to manage inventory, we can send your data to the GM Global Connect system and Cobalt. In other words, you can have the best of both worlds: you can use Strathcom’s best in class tools and services and benefit from the financial incentives GM has put in place. Strathcom has seen many OEM-driven website initiatives come and go over the years. Having been in business since 1998, it is fair to say that we have seen every OEM-driven website initiative and they have all come and gone for one reason: they lack the personalized service required to be successful online. Your dealership is different than every other dealership. Knowing this, why would you want the same website as everyone else? Our personalized approach and custom website designs ensure that you stay ahead of your competition in the online space. So have your cake and eat it too: say yes to the Cobalt site, and let Strathcom provide you with a domain on which to park it. Get best in class website and online marketing services from Strathcom to keep you ahead of your competition. Need a better solution than what GM is offering? Contact a Strathcom Representative Today

Nissan Canada – Approved Certified Website Provider

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Strathcom Media is proud to announce that it is officially an Approved Certified Website Provider for Nissan Canada.

We are excited to work with Nissan dealers as the digital retailer program allows them to take their digital marketing efforts to the next level.

As of September 16th, the dealer locator on Nissan.ca will redirect automatically to your certified website.

Benefits of the program include:

  • Current product and Nissan Canada Inc. (NCI) campaign assets availability
  • Synchronized campaigns and promotions with national and regional launches
  • Benchmarking of website conversions and analytics
  • Generation of website performance metrics
  • Xtime integration
  • Coordinated NCI communication on the program

For immediate assistance please contact the VIP Support Centre at 1-877-829-6059 or email:

About Strathcom

Strathcom Media provides a unique full-service website solution to help Nissan dealers maximize their certified website. From SEO and online advertising to data syndication and market pricing tools, Strathcom can help you with all of your online needs.

Our Certified Nissan automotive website solutions give your car dealer a website with a unique look and feel that represents your dealer’s brand online. We also provide a wide range of SEO implementations to ensure you have a prominent presence in organic search engine rankings. We consistently deliver dealership websites that outperform the industry standards for visitor traffic, organic rankings and lead conversion. Beyond websites, Strathcom Media is also a leader in data syndication, a Google Certified Partner and provides custom software solutions specific to the Canadian automotive industry.

Infiniti Canada – Approved Certified Website Provider

Infiniti Logo

Strathcom Media is proud to announce that it is officially an Approved Certified Website Provider for Infiniti Canada.

We are excited to work with Infiniti dealers as the digital retailer program allows them to take their digital marketing efforts to the next level.

As of September 16th, the dealer locator on Infiniti.ca will redirect automatically to your certified website.

Benefits of the program include:

  • Current product and NCI campaign assets availability
  • Coordinated NCI communication on the program
  • Synchronized campaigns and promotions with national and regional launches
  • Benchmarking of website conversions and analytics
  • Generation of website performance metrics
  • Xtime integration

To get immediate assistance, please contact the VIP Support Centre at 1-877-829-6059 or email:

About Strathcom

Strathcom Media provides a unique full-service website solution to help Infiniti dealers maximize their certified website. From SEO and online advertising to data syndication and market pricing tools, Strathcom can help you with all of your online needs.

Our Certified Infiniti website solutions give your car dealer a website with a unique look and feel that represents your individual dealer’s brand online. Our SEO implementations ensure you have a prominent presence in organic search engine rankings. We consistently deliver dealership websites that outperform the industry standards for visitor traffic, organic rankings and lead conversion. Beyond websites, Strathcom Media is also a leader in data syndication, a Google Certified Partner and provides custom software solutions specific to the Canadian automotive industry.

Form Validation: Avoid Frustration for You and Your Customers

Without functional and clear client-side validation, an online form becomes next to useless. Client-side validation checks the form when the user presses the submit button and does not allow it to go through until it passes all validation checks. Some of the simplest checks see if the user has filled out all the fields, but increasing your validation clarity and scope beyond the basics can make a form easier for a customer to fill out properly.

Red fields are immediately recognizable as required.

Form Error Messages

The previously popular method of showing errors for a form was with an alert box, a method that has become outdated with the easy-to-use jQuery library. An error message should always be shown next to or below the field it represents, to make things easy for your customers. Using traditional stop-slow-go colours can make a design a less visually appealing, but can simplify error recognition. A user can easily distinguish a red field as being bad, and a green one as being good. Don’t ever leave the user hunting for the problem – show them exactly where it is. One nice addition you can add to your form is to animate the page to the first error message by using the jQuery animate and scrollTop function. Error messages should always say exactly what format the field is looking for. Telling the customer that their entry is simply invalid is not enough and can easily become frustrating when the required format is not clear.

Keyup validation gives immediate results.

Keyup Validation

A nice addition to your forms is validating on keyup rather than only on submit for text fields. This means the field a user is working on is checked as they type, giving them immediate feedback. A simple way to do this is turn a field green when it validates, or red until it does.

Don’t make phone numbers a hassle for customers.

Validating Phone Numbers

Online forms often require a certain format, often shown in the label or error message as something similar to XXX-XXX-XXXX. This can be aggravating to the user, especially if they are trying to enter a normally valid format such as (XXX) XXX-XXXX, which would produce an error. Luckily, there’s a great way to avoid this problem. The first step is to not ask for a format at all! Once a customer has typed in a value, use a jQuery replace function to delete all symbols, letters and spaces so the field is only left with numbers. After you’ve done that, simply check if there is at least 10 characters left in the field.

Validating Email Addresses

Email addresses can be tricky to validate because they’re more complicated than a simple text field. The way to check if a customer has entered an email address is by using the jQuery filter function to see if they have entered an @ symbol sometime after the first character, a period sometime after the characters after the @ symbol, and at least two characters after the period. Phew! A very handy premade filter for this formula is /^([a-zA-Z0-9_.-])+@(([a-zA-Z0-9-])+.)+([a-zA-Z0-9]{2,4})+$/.

 

Could you please ship it to 18500 111st Select a Country?

Validating Dropdowns

Make sure a customer cannot choose an identifier as a valid option (for example, don’t let them choose “Choose an Option” from the dropdown). This can be done by checking the dropdown value against any identifier values.

Less guessing equals more successfully filled out forms.

Reduce Guessing and Increase Conversions

Although server-side validation can be important for security, proper client-side validation is more responsive and more useful to the customer. By using all the tips above you will wind up with a form that is both clear and easy to fill out and submit. The key to a good form is to keep things simple as well as obvious – from the general layout to the final validation.

Form Creation: Avoid Frustration for You and Your Customers

If you’ve ever had to fill out a form online, you’ve probably run into some of the problems that arise with them. When you don’t put care and consideration into creating a form, they can easily become frustrating for both the customer filling them out and the company receiving them. There are many ways to simplify the process, from label awareness to simple design considerations. Setting up your form right in the first place will keep a customer from getting scared away when first visiting the page or while filling out the form.

Give Yourself Some Space

One of the huge advantages to online forms is that they are not limited to the size of the paper they are printed on. Increased padding and space between sections can make the form easier to read and fill out. Separating sections distinctly with background colours or borders can make it easy for a customer to skim the document and double check individual sections.

Seperating your fields into sections simplifies a form.

Labels

Labels can make or break a form’s functionality – literally, in some cases. Keep labels as simple as possible for easy skimming, and make sure they are clear and concise. Placing labels within a larger titled section can shorten them: for example, skip writing “Your” in front of every single contact information label by putting the entire section under a “Personal Information” header. You can also make labels more functional than simple text. If you assign a “for” property to a label, you can assign a matching id to the corresponding input field. This makes the label clickable and automatically places the typing cursor in the text field, increasing the area a customer can click to start typing. Neat! You can make this feature even more obvious by adding label{cursor: pointer} to your css. For checkbox or radio fields, labels can also increase clickability and ease-of-use. Wrap your entire checkbox field and text description in a label to make the entire area clickable. Adding a “for” label and matching id to your form fields also allows blind or sighted customers using a screen reader to easily identify form fields.

Clickable labels increase usability.

Tab Order

Depending on how you’ve set up your layout, tabbing through a form might not produce the desired results. Tabbing can make form completion very quick, for those used to using it. To assign a custom tab order to your form, use the tabindex property on your input fields. The default tab order of a form is the order they have been placed within the html. To aid a customer tabbing through a form, instead set your fields to tab from left to right, in reading order. Start your tabindex at one for the first field, and work your way down!

Keep the height and number of fields down to keep your customer on the page.

Minimize Form Fields and Required Fields

Nothing is more daunting than an online form with a tiny scrollbar and dozens of fields. To keep your customer on the page, minimize the number of fields wherever possible. If the information is not absolutely required or not immediately useful – skip it! Generic email contact forms should be reduced to Name, Email, Message, and an optional phone number. Keeping the number of required fields down will also help a customer feel more comfortable filling out the form, especially if they are only asking a simple question about the product and don’t want to fill out their entire address to do so.

Responsive Fields

Another advantage of online forms is the ability to control what options are shown to the customer. You can minimize your form fields and reduce confusion by hiding options that are not available to the customer. For example, if you have a Yes/No question asking if the customer currently owns a car, you can hide the fields asking about the vehicle if they select no, and show them when they select yes. This can be done using a simple jQuery onchange statement.

Concise, simple, and clean are the rules to follow for form design.

A Clean Form is a Happy Form

Combining the tips above with traditional design rules will give a good first impression to a customer visiting your form. It will also increase their ability to fill out your form quickly and easily. Combine these tips with proper client-side validation and you’ll end up with a form that both your customers and your company find simple to use and understand.

Calls to Action: Getting a Customer Past the Homepage

There are hundreds of ways to get customers to your site, from excellent SEO to interactive social marketing. The next step to get your conversion rates up is to show your customers exactly what they can do on your site straight from the homepage.

The most effective way to lead a customer deeper into your site is by using calls to action. There are quite a few ways to work calls to action into your site, from prominent buttons to subtle embedded links within the copy text.

Calls to Action

Calls to action are short phrases written to sound like a personal request made to the customer. They should be short and sweet, and easily found and read when scanning a page. A call to action should lead a customer to a page where they can either commit an action (often filling out a form) or access important information.

Some of the common calls to action we use on our auto sites include:

  • Find a Car
  • Book a Service
  • Apply for Financing
  • Get a Quote
  • Appraise Your Trade-In
  • Request More Information
  • Book a Test Drive

Sliders are a highly graphical call to action.

Sliders

They’re big, bold and in-your-facesliders are here to stay. Modern sliders take advantage of fast loading speeds and large screen real-estate by providing an animated rotation of images or text. They are often used to display photos of the product, but since the slider is often the first thing a customer will see on the site, it’s the ideal place for a call to action. A slider can contain multiple calls to action, each slide displaying a different prompt.

Call to action buttons should stand out – there’s no such thing as too big or too bold!

Call to Action Buttons

It can be easy to get lost on a homepage because it is usually one of the most text-rich pages on an entire site. If a customer can’t easily get to what they want, or simply don’t know where to go next, there’s a good chance they’ll simply leave.

One of the ways of preventing this is by providing prominent call to action buttons. These buttons should stand out highly from the copy text, the main menu, and any imagery on the site. A large site might have 4-5 call to action buttons, but the best option is to draw the customer’s focus to a single, featured call to action.

With and without a call to action.

View More Buttons

If you’re supplying teaser information about a product or an article, show the user that they can actually click the image to get to the full item by adding a “view more” call-to-action button to the teaser.

Call to action links are simple way to interconnect the pages of your site.

Embedded Links

A subtle way to allow a user to navigate your site is by providing them with simple links embedded within the copy text. If the user comes across one on a topic they are interested in, it saves them the step of having to search for the page in the main navigation.

Simple, Prominent & Compelling

Keeping things simple with your calls to action is the easiest way to catch your customer’s attention, especially on a large or crowded site. Use a lot of whitespace around buttons, large, simplified text for your copy and make sure your calls never get overwhelmed by the rest of the content on your site. Once you’ve set up your calls to action, make sure to start tracking them in Google Analytics to see just how effective they can be!

Victoria Gramlich