By Brian Pasch
In just seven weeks the 2014 Automotive Website Awards will be presented at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans on January 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM. This is the fifth year that we have recognized the companies that are providing excellent solutions in automotive website design, digital marketing, mobile marketing, video marketing, and social media engagement. For the first time this year we will be adding the category of Automotive CRM platforms to the list of products being reviewed.
The software solutions that dealers can leverage today are significantly more sophisticated that what was available five years ago. The AWA process helps to educate dealers on potential winning solution for their dealership.
Along with this sophistication comes new opportunities to develop a more robust online presence and a competitive edge. What was important five years ago, today is accepted as a base feature. Technology is changing faster than dealers can keep up with!
Let me give you an example. When we first started to review website platforms in 2009, the Automotive Search Marketing Awards (ASMA), the focus was on the search visibility of automotive website platforms. At that time, many of the website platforms did not have keyword rich page URLs and poor SEO architecture. It was not uncommon for website to have hundreds of duplicate page titles or missing tags altogether.
If a dealer wanted to edit their Page Titles and META Descriptions, they had to go through technical support; SEO was closed to the dealer. The automotive website platforms back then were not SEO friendly. The ASMA awards highlighted the platforms that were the most Google compliant and effective for generating organic traffic.
New Standards For New Opportunities
Fast forward to 2013 and editable Page Title, META Descriptions, and keyword rich URLs are the standard. As a result, most automotive website platforms have the same potential to rank organically with their peers. So instead of focusing on SEO architecture in 2014, the conversation has to move on to things that differentiate website and CRM technology. The conversation has to move to things that really matter to a dealer during a purchasing decision.
So this year, the AWA evaluation criteria will evolve to meet the growing demands of car dealers who want to dominate online. Our 2014 AWA white paper will be covering how the different website platforms adapt, or fail to adapt, for a multi-screen shopper. We will be discussing the websites’ CMS technology and the ease at which content can be created on the website platform.
We will be looking at how website platforms integrate with digital marketing and social media advertising. We will identify which website platforms have the potential to leverage Big Data and are working on better sales attribution models. We will be discussing the platforms that have very tight integration with CRM solutions, and how this gives some platforms a competitive edge.
Dealers also want to know how “open” website platforms are to integrate with vendors of their own choosing. So in 2014 we will be laying those cards on the table as well. If something is important to a dealer in their purchasing decision, we will attempt to address it within our product reviews.
The bar is being raised for CRM platforms as well. Dealers are no longer pleased with a platform with basic functionality. They are looking for tighter integration with their websites, telephony systems, and digital marketing investments. Dealers want their CRM to work seamless on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. We will look at the various user interface designs; which CRM vendors have made it easy for dealership employees to become sales superstars.
The sophistication of automotive marketing has increased along with the knowledge of Dealer Principals, so the AWA will also evolve to provide more value to the automotive community. As always, there will be some “stand out” solutions that we review each year and we can’t wait to share those observations with attendees at the AWA Ceremony on January 24th.
Helping Dealers Make Better Purchases
Dealers who are shopping for new websites, CRM systems, and sales/marketing support tools will be pleased with the new format for the AWA white paper. The write-ups for each product that we reviewed this year will be thorough. The reviews will cover the pros and cons of the product or service each company offers.
Marc McGurren, we heads up our CRM process and training division, will be working with his team of consultants to evaluate the most popular CRM platforms on the market today. We will also have new award categories this year to meet the growth of new products categories. We are pleased with the number of CRM companies who have presented their products to our evaluation team.
If you are interested in attending the 2014 AWA ceremony on January 24th as my guest, please register here: AWA Awards Reception
I hope to see you in New Orleans at the NADA Convention, please stop by our booth.
Brian Pasch, CEO