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I have just been hired at a new dealership that's using Cobalt, being a web developer for years (ISM for a few as well) I would rather roll around in manure and paste that online than use their website.

I decided to build one from scratch, before I show my GM my new site concept, I thought I would run it by the best of the best (You of course!)

Can you take a look at this screenshot mockup of the front page and give me some advice?

Thanks in advance for helping me with my sales, you all rock!

http://picasaweb.google.com/trainermitch/NewSiteDemo#54173749433034...

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Mitchell

Building a site from scratch may seem like a good use of your time but my experience is that doing it all from scratch is not efficient. You may want to consider building a WordPress website and then use the inventory listing module from www.dealertrend.com .

This will allow you to leverage the thousands of free plug-ins and tools for WordPress and then have an SEO friendly inventory listing module that can feed in your current feed.

This will save you countless hours and create and SEO friendly platform on a shoe string budget.

If you have any other questions, feel free to call.

Brian Pasch
732-672-2356
Normally I would agree, however I have been a web developer for most of my life, and SEO optimization is really no problem, and the site design itself will only take about a week. I do LOVE the idea of using dealertrend's inventory module. AWESOME advice!

Of course, I really respect your opinion, I was thinking about using dealeron's finance ap, but I am not sure if you can purchase just one feature or if they force you to use their entire web system?
As a web developer myself, I would suggest that your time should be used for marketing the dealership online and not debugging HTML code. The WordPress plug-in from Dealer Trend is cool. It also have widgets for finance apps, contact forms and a few other things. Check it out since it will save you countless hours of time and then you can focus on the design, call to action messages and to increase conversion.

Worrying about the plumbing of a website today is not the best use of anyone's time.
I would agree, I have just not been very impressed with anyones "charge for site" designs and want to have a custom finance application that will have a four part, captures a lead after part one with a video walkthrough next to it *flash most likely* in order to cut down on the 90% bounce rate from normal 'finance' pages.

I like having control of the layout in an exact way so that I can make changes to specials and update the look and feel based on traffic trends. I will be using Olark for live chat so that it can connect with my smart phone, use pop-up 'coupons' like "Free gps with purchase" to help capture more leads, make people enter an email and name for more than six photos and one video per car.

I DO hate plumbing, but I also hate being boxed in.. You are totally right, all my time at dealership should be spend making videos, uploading inventory to site like craigslist and responding to leads / selling cars. Nobody is making any money programing or designing...

Can you point me to a well done wordpress dealership site? I'll admit I could be 100% off base here (why I'm asking the experts)

Thanks so much Brian
If you contact Mike Fitzpatrick at www.dealertrend.com (mike@dealertrend.com). He can demonstrate WordPress inventory feeds and plug-ins on a WordPress site. WordPress is the best of both worlds: Fully customizable websites with all the plumbing done with a few great plugins.
@Mitchell - Be particularly cautious with online credit apps due to myriad federal and state regulations... Also, check out DealerCentric's online credit app used by Red McCombs and all the MileOne dealerships. If your dealership has ADP for their DMS supplier, then ADP can provide you the plug-in apps for a variety of transactional eCommerce and data integration chores, such as inventory (InventoryOnline), credit applications (FinanceOnline) and service appointment applications (ServiceOnline). The ADP BusinessOnline suite is made up of multiple web based transactional applications originating from the dealership's DMS server and designed to be inserted into any web site, including ones you build yourself. They are inexpensive, but must be plugged into a web site as they are apps and not web sites or pages. Also, with BusinessOnline from ADP your website can take credit card payments and deposits just as if the customer was at your dealership's cashier's window and the payment goes right into the dealership's merchant account.
OK, Ralph, I give up. Love your response to Mitchell's post but for the life of me cannot figure out what a guy on a toilet reading a magazine and wearing a cartoon jihadist (?) head with a firecracker stuck on top(?) has to do with the text above or below it. Can't figure out what it has to do with anything at all, actually.

You got me, man. Anxiously awaiting your explanation.

P.S. Ain't Kobalt spelled "Cobalt'?
My, my, I had no idea.

I need to get out more often.

And here I just thought they were inept and inadequate.

Come to think of it, who is "they" anyway?
Ralph, come on...The picture indicating this character you've in your response has not even a slight resemblance with me - I have no beard, don't wear a turban and decided not ot lecture in the bathroom. Saying this I can reassure you that Cobalt does not report dealerships to their OEM Regional offices or HQ's, when these dealers decided to a) using their existing non-Cobalt products or b) not making Cobalt designed websites their primary OEM/Dealer URL.

Traveling like you the United Stated and visiting our Cobalt customers, and hereby I mean our dealerships around the nation it is refreshing to see and to hear that our dealerships are appreciating Cobalt's efforts to put more and more individualty in their design efforts and still maintaining the OEM requirements to put out a consitent Marketing message and having the franchise branding compliant. The argument to have a "cookie cutter" website provider is simply wrong. In using the dealer support teams in Washington, and digging into the back-end tools as an "in-charge" Internet manager, eCommerce director, etc...Cobalt websites are allowing more than 1700 different design variations to accommodate the dealerships wishes. During my time as an eCommerce Director I had one of my franchises using Cobalt, with the success that our website traffic and the submitted leads increased by plus 30%. Further OEM's Regional Office used our "different designed" Cobalt site during their dealer visits in other states as an example in "How Individuality does not have to Suffer", and the dealer does not have to give up their identity. Ralph, I am not kidding it worked!

As you know, I appreciate your advice you gave to Mitchell in putting additional websites and micro/landing pages into the arena. You have shown that it worked fantastic during your time at Courtesy Chevrolet and you owned indeed the Phoenix SERP market with this strategy.

Saying that, let the Holiday Season shout out its cause - Love, Peace and Happiness.


Volker Jaeckel (a.k.a. VJ)
Digital Marketing Ambassador
Cobalt Group
Cell: (480)290-8886
VJ,

In a comment I posted last December 29th, I wrote:
“If I were to become the President or CEO of the Cobalt Group… I would become your biggest fan and cheerleader!”

There was other content in the post but given that the company I have worked for over the last four years, ADP, intends to acquire Cobalt, I thought it best to not include ALL of my comments.

Rather, I am hoping that with ADP in charge we might get the best of both companies – Cobalt technology that I have praised on several occassions, (I especially like the GM dealer Digital Advertising enrollment site) and ADP management that has always kept the interests of dealerships front and center... The same management team that has had the vision to allow me to initiate and lead development of industry leading programs around digital marketing consulting, digital advertising and social media marketing.

Maybe we might see something even more: a fusion of OEM efforts and dealership efforts in the areas of website technology, digital advertising and social media.

Of course this is an object lesson, yesterday’s critics may become today’s allies.

Anyways, I hope you know I have always been a fan of you and the style in which you get things done. The ADP acquisition of The Cobalt Group gets me VERY excited around several areas of opportunity, but to find myself on the same team with VJ is a major bonus from the deal!

Ralph
Ralph:

I remember the content and my reaction on it...and I appreciate your kind words about our both opportunities to work together under the same roof-top with the goal in mind : "Making dealers more aware of the Digital and Social Marketing world we are now living."

Let's make it together even more a major bonus and "rock the automotive world" with the expertise we both bring to the table.

VJ
(a.k.a. Volker Jaeckel)
twitter.com/VJnator
facebook.com/VJnator
Sounds like a good plan to me! Count me in...

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