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Google Certified Dealer Website Supplier String Automotive Sees 2013 as Their Break-Out Year

String Automotive Started Providing Car Dealers with Websites 7 Years Ago... They have now grown and become a source of innovation and competitive advantage for Car Dealers. 
 
Recently, we have become aware of the unique approach and innovation that String Automotive has brought to the dealer website supplier segment.  
 
  • 1. WEBSITE DESIGN SERVICES - For over 7 years String Automotive has resisted the temptation to rely on design templates. Each time they plan the implementation of a website for a new dealer client, an original design is drafted by Alan Ezzati for review with the dealer. Alan is one of the more respected and well known web designers in North America who now specializes in automotive websites. He initially established his reputation for "clean" and effective web design before he ever thought of building websites for car dealers. There is one skill String has that some would call good, and others would wince at... These people are the best at copying other website designs and adapting them to the auto industry! 

    When it comes to creating virtually perfect duplicate "knock off" dealer website designs, String is exceptionally talented... For example, they duplicated the Nordstrom Department Store's website, but made it into a car dealer's website!  If a dealer sees a website he/she really likes, these people will mimic every aspect of that site's design and functionality, adapted over to a car dealership's functional requirements.  Considering the sheer vacuum of actual web designers in our industry, a dealer website supplier that is OWNED by formally trained web designers that are creative and highly skilled, is an exception.

  • 2. GOOGLE BUSINESS PARTNER We have worked with several dealer website suppliers since 1998... What has mystified us since around 2005 when SEO emerged as a Top Of Mind issue with car dealers, is that whenever we suggest taking their website platform architecture team to Mountain View for meetings with Google's own engineers so that we (ie: Reynolds Web Solutions, AutoMark, AutoFuze, BZ Results, ADP Web Solutions, etc.) could build in close integration with Google Webmaster and Analytics, and you know, actually get some help in making sure the dealer websites were going to work well with Google's indexing systems and stuff... The developers would glare at me like I was some kind of Judas turning traitor and belch out something like "Google does not know anything about what car dealers need in a website" or "It is none of Google's business and WE ARE the people responsible for designing the new website platform so inviting Google to interfere is an insult to our capabilities..." Yada, yada, yada... It drove me nuts that over and over again I would listen to all these website developers from several different companies get all up in a huff and act like I called them idiots when I offered to set up meetings with Google's engineers.  Well, so apparently the people at String Automotive seem to have escaped this specific form of delirium that seems to effect most of the dealer website suppliers.  Without any shame or bruising of egos, they went to Google's facilities in Mountain View and built their website platform architecture in conjunction with as much assistance as they could squeeze out of Google.  They went so far as to build their entire platform to be complaint with Google Webmaster and Google Analytics Certification standards... Now, everybody who hates to see anyone do something different and better than in the past in this business is going to say the same thing that they said when I insisted that ADP Digital Marketing Consultants get Google Adwords Certified... "It doesn't really matter if you are Google Certified, we can do anything they can without going through Google's Certification nonsense..." OK, maybe yes, maybe no... But in our expert opinion GOOGLE CERTIFICATION AND WEBSITE DESIGN STANDARDS COMPLIANCE MATTERS!

  • 3. CUSTOMER RESPONSIVENESS - Having lived through many life-cycles of starting with excellent customer service for our dealer website clients, and then making dealer support "Scalable" by making it suck, we are acutely aware and appreciative of fast and personalized customer support for dealers where you call the person who managed the initial website design and launch project, so he/she makes the requested changes while you are on the phone and the conversation sounds more like two business partners collaborating then taking a number at the supermarket deli.  So far, and all bets are off if these people sell String Automotive to some big conglomerate (that hardly ever happens, right?), String Automotive provides such personalized and direct support to the dealers (and me) that i work with, I think they simply do not know any better... so PLEASE do not tell these people what the other website suppliers do! For right now, they are our favorite dealer website company to work with because when Tony at Kelly Ford calls and asks the account manager to make a change or fix something, it happens right away and he speaks to the same person every time he calls...We like that.

  • 4. DATA EXTRACTION AND INVENTORY DISPLAY - Somebody forgot to tell the founders of String Automotive that you do not need to build your own data extraction and inventory display page generating application, that you can just buy it from one of the major suppliers of these services... Because they built their own inventory system! Now, this is actually kind of a scary thing for me, and I do not recommend you kids try this at home.  This stunt is performed by highly trained professionals on a closed circuit course... Anyways, we watched the brain damage the people at String went through to get their inventory system built and working right for a major dealer group that was a mutual client at the time.  We saw the String Team actually do their own "Customer Focus Group"... yeah, for real... Just like you see in TV shows like Mad Men.  They brought in groups of in market auto shoppers and observed them using different dealer websites, tracking and recording what the customer liked, did not like and what compelled customers to come to the dealership, call on the phone, engage in a chat session or complete a lead form.  We know that sounds a little extreme, and we were kind of surprised at the money they spent, but darn if all that first hand customer research did not result in one of the best Vehicle Detail Page (VDP) designs in the business!
 
So, do we like the people, products and service at String Automotive?
Yes, we certainly do at this point in time... Their willingness to build dealer websites around programming code that complies with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster standards, then have Google engineers inspect, revise and eventually certify their websites as 100% compliant is a major point of differentiation for String. 
 
PLUS, String Automotive hired two of our favorite people in the auto industry that we recommended to them so they could launch an actual sales team (Yeah, they never had a salesperson prior to 2012):
  • Charlie Bass
  • Steve Botello
We have worked with Charlie and Steve on a "shoulder to shoulder" basis for several years and from over 300 sales team members at ADP, we cited their integrity and dealer focus on many occasions...
 
As for the history of our dealings with String Automotive: Back when they called themselves "Captive Lead" (they seem to have a problem with names), we met the owners, Alan and Ken through a mutual client... Our initial impression is that we did not like the way their websites were making our (then) company's websites look bad.
We wanted to put them out of business, our competitive instincts told us to do everything possible to crush them.  Over time, as we got to know the people at String, we became friends.  When they started to recommend that their dealer clients use Ralph's team at Tier10 Marketing for digital advertising, our friendship became stronger and we worked together via phone and email on a daily basis.
Today, we find ourselves helping them by referring employees, making advertising recommendations and pushing their team to write and publish articles like the one about Google Analytics making a radical change in how they treat visitor tracking to Google Analytics certified sites, like those created by String Automotive. The String Automotive Team are friends of the ADM Professional Community. Ask anyone in the car business who is our friend, if we are willing to help them be more successful. 
  
As for recommending any website supplier, it is not that we care all that much about which website supplier a dealer buys their sites from. Previously, some of us cared a lot when we worked for companies whose business was selling dealer websites, but we don't any more. We have plenty of friends working at ADP, Cobalt, Dealer.com, Naked Lime, DealerFire and several other website suppliers. 
 
But, when it comes to the handful of dealers we work directly with, we do care what website supplier we have to work with... We care a lot! So, when I discovered that the Rick Case Auto Group was using a VERY lame dealer website supplier (who I will not name because they have an accessory sales application that I like a lot), my recommendation was to take a look at String Automotive.
When their IT Director (Naz Eosso), who is EXTREMELY knowledgeable, a veteran of Toyota (SET) and is no easy IT professional to impress, looked at String Automotive's technology, site architecture, and the custom work they do, she bypassed all the other big name website suppliers and selected String Automotive.  She said the decision was actually very easy to make.
  

Then when Chris Saraceno's team at Kelly Ford in Florida looked at String Automotive, they saw a very real opportunity to gain a competitive advantage over other dealers in their market.  Tony and Chris made the decision to switch from their current supplier to String Automotive.  The all new Kelly Ford dealership website from String Automotive can be viewed at http://KellyFord.com.

 

We are very pleased to announce that String Automotive has become an ADM Professional Community sponsor. We like their products and believe dealers who use them receive a substantial competitive advantage. 

 

All of us on the management team at Automotive Media Partners, LLC are more than willing to tout String Automotive's capabilities.  When people question the need for yet another company entering into the automotive website supplier space, we believe that the competition and the innovation that results from this competition benefits all dealers, regardless of who you use as a dealership website supplier. It makes sense that String Automotive should support the ADM Professional Community with an advertising sponsorship like several other suppliers are doing. 

 

We would like to express our sincerest appreciation and thanks to the String Automotive team for being an ADM Professional Community sponsor!

 

When we asked the people that own and run String Automotive what they wanted from their sponsorship of the ADM Professional Community, they responded by saying that they want car dealers to know who they are, that they sell very competent and capable dealership websites, and that they are the only automotive website supplier who is fully Google Analytics (and Webmaster) Certified.  

What does that mean to a car dealer? It means that a dealer's website built and maintained by String Automotive has a site architecture that has been designed from the ground up to be compliant with Google Webmaster Standards.  We believe that the ADM Professional Community can deliver on the objectives requested by the String Automotive Team.

 

Listed below are a few examples of String Automotive Dealer Websites that we found on our own without any "stacking of the deck" by our friends at String:

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Tags: 2013, Break-Out, Dealer Website, Google, Google Certified, Sees, String Automotive, Supplier, Year

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Comment by Stan Sher on March 6, 2013 at 11:12am

I finally just got around to reading this blog.  I know Steve for a few years know.  He is a great guy.  We got to chat at the DealerPeak party at NADA.  But now I got to look at these websites and I have to say.  I am blown away by what I see here.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on March 2, 2013 at 7:42pm

Brian Bennington - Calling you was one of my better decisions of the day. I learned about your business model and was surprised at how easy it is to understand the value of what you deliver to your dealer clients. Besides, I am a fan of any rock'n roller who made a living in the music business, then came into the car business. There are more of you in the car business than you probably think! (our own Tom Gorham for example). I am going to work on the acronyms legend and a glossary... But I have something to ask from you. PLEASE write and post a blog about the sales professional letter writing service that you offer. Your execution of Relationship Centered Marketing (RCM) is something so compelling that I believe many individual sales professionals working at car dealerships would be willing to pay out of their own pockets to get.

Comment by Charlie Bass on March 1, 2013 at 3:21pm

Thanks Manny!  Call me anytime 206-380-9709.

Comment by Charlie Bass on March 1, 2013 at 3:00pm

Manny, sorry if I came off the wrong way, my intention is not to call anyone out.  I'm just trying to share what our certification is and how we earned it.  I know that there are a lot of Analytics experts in the automotive space...people a lot smarter than myself.  In no way do I want to come off as a "know it all," the car business is forever changing and I learn new stuff all the time.  I also understand that Google is only one tool and there are other analytics tools that vendors and consultants prefer to Google.  One of the big things we like about Analytics is the transparency it provides our Partners.  They are able to see the results - Good, Bad or Indifferent.   

Again, sorry to come off the wrong way...

Comment by Alexander Lau on March 1, 2013 at 1:22pm

Thanks Charlie, agreed. I was attempting to promote a conversation more than anything. Just eager to try and place a value on certification, so to speak.

I stand by my comments on Google Analytics in general, it's by far not the strongest analytics tool out there (that might change in the future, but for now it's not), regardless of Google's name branded on it. It's smart of you to support it though, as dealers want to go with the freebie option. 

I think it's much more important to be a master of "Analytics" itself as opposed to being a "Certified Google Analytics" provider. It's the branding that's a little unsettling.

Still eager to find out if the sites mentioned above are 'Responsive Web Design'?

Thanks!

Comment by Ralph Paglia on March 1, 2013 at 1:01pm

Brian Bennington - That is my writing you have critiqued and I apologize for the typos and grammatical errors... I feel duly spanked and my ego is bruised a smudge, but you are right on target and I am embarrassed at having been called out... Sometimes I write too fast when creating posts and your comment is a reminder to slow down and proof read... Thank you for pointing out my errors.

Please take a look at how I rewrote the initial paragraph and comment on whether or not this is an adequate improvement...

Comment by Charlie Bass on March 1, 2013 at 12:57pm

Alexander, I agree that a certification isn't the be all, end all. A certification from Google is 3rd party validation that we aren't blowing smoke and mirrors...we deliver.  You should ask yourself...if anyone can apply for this certification...and it's only earned not BOUGHT...why haven't other website providers and industry consultants done the leg work to prove they are Analytics Experts?  

I've always said that having great technology is only a piece of the puzzle.  People and Process are required to make any technology succeed.  At String we are passionate about proactively working with our partners to challenge the status quo and have them buy-in to our philosophies that we know (through Analytics) deliver results.  A properly merchandised vehicle WILL sell faster and hold more gross.  We have proven this in multiple stores that implement our system.  At the end of the day, we are working to make a positive impact on the industry as a whole.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on March 1, 2013 at 11:33am

I would just like to point out the nature of Google Partner Certifications... In 2008 I orchestrated one of only 3 Google Adwords Certified Partner contracts in the auto industry... There are less than two dozen Google Adwords Certified Strategic Partners across all industries... The process took 14 months of work to get ADP Dealer Services certified and the agreements to clear both legal departments.

Google takes their certification process on any level VERY SERIOUSLY and they commit time, resources and money to ensure compliance by the business partner is maintained.  There was not a quarter that went by when Google was not sending us emails and dictating the ways in which we were allowed to do business, invoice, structure markup and build out campaigns, keyword targeting etc.  As a supplier, I believe it is all well worth the time and effort, but there were many of my colleagues at ADP that wanted to tell Google to take a hike with their compliance demands.

One thing is for certain, for String Automotive to be a Certified Google Analytics (and Webmaster) Partner, they must comply with a deep and detailed set of standards, guidelines, policies and customer service level requirements.  This is not a certification for sales and marketing, this type of Google Certification is for detailed technical compatibility and standards compliance that ensures dealers that String Automotive websites provide a depth of integration with Google Analytics and Webmaster Standards that non-certified dealer website providers do not.  This ain't no lip gloss certification... this Google stuff is the real deal!

Comment by Alexander Lau on March 1, 2013 at 9:58am

BTW, before you get too annoyed with me, I quoted you at http://www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com/profiles/blogs/how-to-com.... You were spot on with your comments. Wondering if the sites above are all 'Responsive' as well or are you working on that?

Comment by Alexander Lau on March 1, 2013 at 9:51am

Thanks for your comment Charlie. By nature, I'm skeptical of certifications as being the be all; end all in terms of service / product provisions. I'm sure your group is well-versed in Google Analytics (by no means the top line analytics package out there. In fact, I personally don't believe analytics should be run through tags -- I've mentioned that here previously).

I realize Google Analytics is the cheaper of options (free, covering most needs) and most dealers have it installed (makes sense from your business model and there's).

I just don't know whether being certified takes you over the top or any better than someone who's actively used it and AO, WT, etc. since their advent.

http://www.metronomelabs.com/solutions/passive-capture.php (doesn't look like much, but that's not the point of their focus). This is the way companies should be doing this, but tagging was first to the game and it's heavily implemented at this point.

Solutions - Passive Web Data Capture

  • Implementation: it's expensive and time-consuming to code, test, deploy and maintain tag scripts every time there's a change to your site or your data requirements.
  • Data access, management and integration: outsourcing web data management to a vendor limits your access to the data. Joining it with your corporate databases or even accessing the raw data is difficult and expensive.
  • Security: tag scripts open doors for hackers into your corporate computing systems, and outsourced solutions open your data up to hackers.
  • Missing data: tags and scripts miss many crucial events like server errors, visitors using mobile devices, and blocked tags and scripts.
  • Performance: complex tagging and scripting may add a performance burden to your pages so visitors may experience slower site performance.

Metronome Labs Advantage
Metronome Labs can provide a turn-key solution to integrate tagless data collection with your existing enterprise systems or web analytics solution.

  • More complete data for your existing enterprise solutions.
  • Maintain your existing technology investment.
  • Zero overhead on web servers or browsers.
  • No changes to your existing website.

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