Category Archives: Websites

3rd Party Plug-ins Need Responsive Design

If you haven’t seen and learned about the power of Responsive Web Design, you’re missing a great new piece of digital marketing technology.  Responsive Design throws out the idea of mobile websites, and instead builds a multi-device-capable platform around a single website.

My company offers Responsive Websites, and I’m learning that others providers are also entering this exciting space.  For our automotive dealer customers, the benefits are enormous with sites that offer better consumer experiences, improved SEO and Social capabilities, and also also easier to maintain.

The next challenge for Responsive Website Design in the automotive space is convincing our 3rd Party Plug-in Providers that they also need to embrace this technology.  I am referring to the many plug-ins for pricing, chat, online negotiation and financing that currently are built around desktop and mobile websites.  When a Responsive Website attempts to plug-in some of these 3rd party modules, the consumer experience is not always consistent, with chat or pricing windows appearing in varied styles on smart phones and tablets.

Clearly some standardization around Responsive techology is needed for 3rd parties creating website modules, and Dominion is willing to help lead this charge.

What do you think?  Any 3rd Party Plug-in providers ready to dive in?


5 Reasons to Hate Your Mobile Website

On January 9 2007 Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld convention, and started a revolution in the way people consumed the web.   As Apple and their competitors began shipping millions of smartphones to the masses, the need for websites compatible with the smaller screen became critical.  The website world responded with a “mobile website”.  The mobile website was designed as a separate site, that would be served up when it detected the user was on a mobile device.  Then on January 27, 2010, Steve Jobs again changed the rules by announcing the iPad introduction at an Apple press conference, and website providers scrambled to update their strategy.

Many dealers still have these old mobile websites.  Folks, your mobile website is a 2007 solution to a 2013 problem, and you should hate it for the following reasons:

Reason 1:  You’re spending too much money.  Logic tells us, if we build both a desktop site and a mobile site, it will cost more than building a single website.  In addition, that same logic tells us if we have to maintain two websites, it will take more time versus one site.   Maintaining two sites also introduces the chance for errors, omissions, and situations where the two sites have different data.  Save your time and money by building one Responsive website.

Reason 2:  Your SEO is not what it could be.  Both Google and Bing are on record, they prefer a single Responsive website instead of multiple sites.  For the search engines, a single website means indexing is easier, and increases the likelihood of delivering the desired content to the user.  With multiple sites, your inbound linking strategy becomes confusing.  Which links should you work to build, ones to your desktop or mobile site?  The choice is clear, a single Responsive website results in superior SEO.

Reason 3:  You’ve got 2 website addresses.  Remember we said it was a band-aid approach, and having both a mobile and desktop website is a sloppy solution that delivers poor results.  What happens if a desktop user Facebook-shares a page on your main website, but mobile shoppers click on the links?  Redirects happen, and many times they happen poorly, delivering the wrong pages to the user and increasing abandon rate. have different addresses.  Responsive gives you consistency, one site with same content and same experience.

Reason 4:  Your Analytics are difficult to track.  Our website analytics help us answer many questions for our marketing strategy, but two URLs results in misleading and confusing statistics.  To get a true picture of your website results, you may need to combine multiple reports, and layer information.  With a single website, you have a single analytics report, showing you where you’re having success, and where you need attention.

Reason 5:  Your users hate your mobile website.  Why do I feel this way?  A separate mobile website is doomed from the beginning.  We’re giving the shopper a different user-experience depending on the device they’re using, in many cases with conflicting content since we have to maintain them separately.  In addition, nearly every mobile website is “limited function” which means not all of the content from the main website is included.  For reasons listed above, a mobile shopper may be sent to pages that don’t exist, have conflicting information, throw the user onto a desktop site (pinch, zoom, scroll…leave) or simply give an error page.  The old strategy of using redirects doesn’t always work, and is again…a band-aid strategy.

It’s time we stepped back a bit and re-evaluated our reactive strategy with multiple websites.  Is it feasible to create a new website for every new mobile device that hits the market?  Of course not.  We need to replace our band-aid tactics with a strategic approach to build a single website that responds to whatever device is being used.  Once we turn this page, and move forward with a single Responsive website, we no longer need to worry about new devices hitting the market, since we’re already compatible.  We can focus on effective marketing, and stopping fighting technology.

SEO + Mobile Websites = #Fail

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” 

― Albert Einstein

With this famous quote, Einstein got it right.  If we continue doing the same things we’ve done in the past, we are likely to fail.  Several years ago, thanks to Steve Jobs, Smart Phones burst onto the tech scene and forever changed the way we surfed the web.  Retailers responded with mobile websites, and for a short time we felt we addressed this significant change.  Only a few years ago, again thanks to Steve Jobs, Tablets appeared, and again our mobile website strategy cheese got moved and retailers scrambled.  An estimated 122 million Tablets were sold in 2012, in all shapes and sizes.  Today there are an incredible number of Smart Phones, Tablets, and now Phablets (combination phone/tablets), and they all come in different shapes and sizes.  That old strategy of building mobile websites is completely broken.  It is a 2008 solution to a 2013 problem.

I’ve written about this subject, and most who understand these changes would agree, the intelligent retailers are looking for a change.  Lo and behold, the technology gods delivered to us Adaptive/Responsive Web Technology, and we are thankful for it.  What is Adaptive Web Technology (AWT)?  AWT means that you can forget about having a mobile site, a tablet site, and your desktop site.  Instead, you have one single site that simply “adapts” to whatever device is browsing.  This adaptation includes changing the layout, navigation, reprioritizes content and changes calls to action.  Google the subject, you’ll be amazed when you see an example.

When I say “adapt”, I don’t mean redirect.  Redirects are also a 2008 solution to a 2013 problem.  Since most mobile websites are scaled-down versions of the main website, not every page on the main website exists on the mobile site.  That means if I’m surfing a dealer’s website on my desktop, find a cool Specials page and “share” it on Facebook, people on a mobile device may get a redirect that points them to the homepage instead (since that Specials page may not exist on the mobile website).  It is also very common to accidentally create “redirect loops” where users are bounced back and forth between mobile and desktop sites since the redirect code may not be updated.  Finally, you must keep in mind that having redirects on all of your pages will increase page-loading time, which hurts the user experience and leads to high abandonment rates.  Stop doing redirects…time to change to AWT.

If you’re not convinced yet that AWT is the technology of the future, would it help to know that both Google and Bing have embraced and recommended this technology?  This past summer they both said they preferred a single responsive website, vs. having both desktop and mobile sites.  Why did they make this recommendation.  A single website simply makes search indexing much more effective.  Google stated they prefer single URLs because ‘it makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content’ and that is helps ‘Google’s algorithms assign indexing properties for the content.’  Bing also agreed that there are SEO benefits for single URL: ‘You have more ranking signals coming to this URL… the vast majority of mobile URLs do not have inbound links from other websites as people do not link to mobile URLs like they link to regular web-situated URLs.’  I don’t know about you, but if it’s important to Google and Bing, then it is important to me!

The Search Engines also have a vested interest.  When you have both mobile and non-mobile sites, the SE crawlers are actually crawling your site multiple times, using a lot of your bandwidth, and slowing performance for your users.  Very bad.  The indexing process is also completely duplicated, since Search Engines sees an entirely new site, potentially causing duplicate content issues.  Remember, around 30% of searches today are via a mobile device, and that number is rapidly growing.  Dealers need a 2013 mobile strategy.

From the dealer’s perspective, multiple websites means multiplying the work involved to achieve great SEO.  Third party linking must be duplicated from scratch for your mobile site, and that is not likely to happen effectively since people don’t tend to link or share mobile URLs.  Whether you do your SEO internally or use a third-party, all SEO optimization effort is duplicated, increasing costs and decreasing performance of your campaigns.  Some will deal with these problems by altering the ROBOTS.TXT file to block the Search Engines from crawling the mobile site, putting priority on the non-mobile site.  They will then use redirects to send mobile traffic to non-indexed mobile site, however redirects often fail (see previous).

From the consumer’s standpoint, we would all prefer a single website that automatically adjusted to any screen size, from the smallest Smart Phone, to the largest LED television.  Consumers don’t want a scaled-down mobile site that is lacking key content, or has out of date information.  Most consumers will form their first impression of retailers based on how well the website performs on various devices.  I know if I go to a website that doesn’t adapt well on my phone or iPad Mini, I abandon and go somewhere else.

You get the picture; you need a 2013 strategy to deal with the device explosion that is going on today.  You need a strategy that makes it so that your website is immediately compatible with the new iPad Mini the day it arrives in stores.  It’s all about conversions and sales in the end, and Adaptive websites help the Search Engines find your website, improve the experience, and help get them converted.  Adaptive and Responsive website technology is that 2013 solution, and Mr. Einstein would be proud of those ready to adapt to this change!

Dealers, Managers…You Must Immerse

One of the biggest challenges dealerships and other business people face is the rapid pace of technology innovation.  Just when a dealer or manager feels they have a grasp on where Digital Marketing technology is, new developments come to market that confuse the audience.  For many, this results in the dealers either making no decision, or very uninformed decisions.  Progressive dealers will attend training at conferences, read articles, and try their best to ensure that when that next vendor begins explaining “the next big thing”, that they have some idea of what’s being discussed.

In my new book, Unfair Advantage, co-authored with some of the most respected names in automotive retail, in his gripping introduction titled “The Fear Stops Here”, Brian Pasch outlines these challenges and assures the reader that the book will help them be more educated and informed.  He advises dealers to “…take one step at a time,” and embrace the change.  Brian is right.  The old adage that you must approach eating an elephant one-bite-at-a-time definitely comes into play with gaining an understanding of technology.

I also feel that is goes far beyond reading, attending conferences, and listening to informed consultants.  I would argue that you could attend a dozen seminars on how Twitter can help your dealership, but you still won’t truly “get it”.  In order to truly understand, you must immerse.  What does this mean?  Immersing means saying goodbye to your fears of the unknown, and instead diving right in headfirst.  In order to understand technology, you must begin to truly experience it.  You must sign up for, and use: Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Facebook, recognizing that early sledding may not be easy.  There will be periods of confusion, misunderstanding and general frustration!  But over time immersion will lead to osmosis.  Without even realizing the moment, you will begin to understand, you will begin to “get it”.

Dealers and dealership managers should resist the urge to outsource this to their IT folks, or people that already understand technology.  If you outsource it, you will miss out on both the true confidence to make informed decision, and the experience of trying and learning something new.  In addition, if the person you outsourced it to leaves the dealership, your knowledge goes with them.  New technology is not that tough, but you have to make a commitment to embracing and immersing.

So what exactly do I mean my immersing?  First it means stop saying, “I don’t Tweet”, “Foursquare is a time-waster”, and “I’ve got better things to do than be on Facebook”.  Go online, sign up for these services, and begin experiencing them.  Don’t be worried that at first everything seems confusing and overwhelming.  On Twitter for instance, you can start out by simply setting up an account, picking 20 of your favorite automotive industry folks (or others) and commit yourself to following them daily.  I guarantee that will only take about 10-15 minutes per day.  At the same time you’re learning about Twitter, you will also be learning about what is going on in the industry, what trends they see, and what they’re thinking.  Over time the # hash tags and @ symbols will begin to make sense, and you will start to “get it”.  It is only by this commitment to immerse that you can become one with the new technology that your shoppers and customers are using, and trying to communicate with your dealership with.  Another great benefit of immersing is setting a great example for the rest of the dealership personnel.  If you want them to embrace technology, then their boss needs to do the same.  Lead by example by diving in, asking them to dive in, and then learning from each other along the way.

Brian was right, the fear needs to stop here, and it needs to start with you embracing and immersing yourself in technology, before you’re left behind.

Some Battles Ahead for Automotive Domain Names

Didn’t you think the dust had really settled on domain names (website addresses)?  Sure, there were tons of land-grabs from the mid 1990’s to the mid 2000’s, but much of that seems to be over.  Every once in a while we hear of a new dot-something extension being added, but nothing earth shattering.  Well, that is all set to change based on the new rules of the game.

Whether you have one or multiple websites for your store(s), you currently have one of twenty-two (22) Top-Level Domains (TLDs).  I’m referring to the .com, .net, .cc, and so on.  This past June, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began allowing a large number of new Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs), and offered the ability to apply for them.  If a company was awarded one or more of these TLDs, they could begin to sell website URLs with the related extensions.  For instance, General Motors could secure .chevy and create websites with this extension.

However, applying for these new gTLDs was very expensive, with an upfront application fee of $185,000, and if you were lucky enough to be chosen, you would pay $25,000 each year (only one company could be awarded each unique gTLD).

On June 13, 2012 ICANN made the list of gTLDs public on   I downloaded this list and began to analyze it.  It was extremely interesting to review, some bids were made for some potentially great, and sometimes crazy domains.  I thought that: .APP  .INC  .LAW  and .WEB were all possible winners.  Walmart went for .George and I’ve already sent them a note asking for early registration of Nenni.George, very cool.

As expected, some of the heavy hitters in digital marketing applied for quite a few.  Among the leading applicants of course were Google and Amazon (9% of applications), but another new startup called Donuts Inc. also emerged.  Donuts seemed to come from nowhere to bid for some potentially lucrative gTLDs.  They are well funded by $100 million in venture capital and submitted a staggering 16% of all 1,931 applications.

During my analysis, I pulled out all of the automotive-related gTLDs (listed below), they accounted for 3.5% of the overall list. In the automotive world, we also had plenty of activity, but companies seldom went for large purchases.  The OEMs naturally bought their brands, likely to begin having their dealers move to OEM-approved websites with their own custom extension.  I think OEMs will look back on this and see that it was a very smart strategic move, especially brands like Audi, Ford, and BMW since it creates a 3-4 character extension and still secures the brand well.  I personally think that George.BMW has a very cool ring to it.  As I reviewed the list, perhaps the most shocking news was the few automotive OEMs that did NOT secure their top-level domain.  Acura, Mazda, Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, Scion, Smart, and Subaru all failed to be a part of this potentially lucrative domain grab.

Time will tell how important this becomes, but as I looked at the number of major global players that took part in this, I would say this will become very big business in the future.





American Automobile Association, Inc.


AUDI Aktiengesellschaft


Big Maple, LLC



Dot Auto LLC



Fegistry, LLC



Uniregistry, Corp.


Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company






Bentley Motors Limited


Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft


Robert Bosch GMBH


Bridgestone Corporation


Bugatti International SA


General Motors LLC


General Motors LLC


Charleston Road Registry Inc.






Koko Castle, LLC



Uniregistry, Corp.


General Motors LLC


General Motors LLC


Chrysler Group LLC.




Amazon EU S.à r.l.


Uniregistry, Corp.


Dealer Dot Com, Inc.



DotDeals Inc.


Sand Sunset, LLC



Top Level Domain Holdings Limited


Chrysler Group LLC.


The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company


Fiat S.p.A. (“società per azioni”)


Fiat S.p.A. (“società per azioni”)


Bridgestone Corporation


Ford Motor Company


General Motors LLC


The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company


Honda Motor Co., Ltd.


Hyundai Motor Company




Jaguar Cars Limited


Chrysler Group LLC.




Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.


Land Rover




Ford Motor Company


Fiat S.p.A. (“società per azioni”)


Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft


Mitsubishi Corporation


Chrysler Group LLC.




Black Orchard, LLC



Premier Registry Limited



Uniregistry, Corp.


Chrysler Group LLC.


Smart Communications, Inc. (SMART)






Tata Motors Ltd


Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC


Dog Edge, LLC



The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company




Volkswagen Group of America Inc.


Volvo Holding Sverige Aktiebolag


GMO Registry, Inc.