In a world where online marketing is everywhere and everyone seems to have the “secret sauce” in achieving online success, choosing a website vendor can feel extremely overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be – just as you would vet out a new partnership for your business, there are some questions you should ask your vendor before committing to the relationship.
Do They Speak Your Lingo?
- Do they have industry-relevant relationships? If a vendor knows your industry, they can provide additional insights on improving the way you market to your consumers. How? Because they know your industry. They know who your competitors are, how your consumers behave, and more importantly how your industry is evolving.
- How do they keep up with your industry’s trends? Chances are, if your vendor is part of your industry associations, they know the inside scoop. They know that around January–March of every year, you’re going to be out and about at industry tradeshows learning more about your manufacturers, tier 4 emissions, Sustainability, Social Media Marketing 101, etc. And if your vendor is really great, you’ll be able to meet your vendor face to face at these shows too.
- Do they develop websites for any businesses in your industry? A vendor that develops websites for your competitors is one to pay attention to. But be careful; don’t just fall for the fancy design. Ask yourself:
- Is the website functional?
- Do all the links and buttons work properly?
- Is the website engaging?
- Meaning, do you want to stay on the website because it is so rich in information?
- Does the inventory reside on the website or is it iFramed?
- Is the inventory embedded on the website from another website? If so, you are missing out on some great opportunities. Having inventory reside on your website is great for search engine rankings, enhancing the customer experience with your website, and capturing high-quality leads.
- Is there content on the homepage of the website?
- This is arguably the most important page on your website as it is often your visitor’s first impression of your business, it’s important to have content on this page to welcome your visitors.
- Is the website functional?
Will They Make Time For You?
- Do they have a dedicated support line? Beyond just having a support line, it is so important to have real people that can help you. In today’s evolving world of technology, it is so easy for businesses to invest in automated solutions to help streamline customer service. However, any good business knows, there are no shortcuts in developing great customer relationships.
- Will they assign a dedicated representative to your business? What’s better than reaching a person at the end of the other line? Having one person you can call whenever you need, to help you get what you need – customer service simplified and personalized.
- Do they dedicate time to get to know your business? Some of the best customer experiences people have are because they feel understood by their vendor. In order to help your business grow and adapt to change, the vendor must understand your state of business, your business objectives and focuses, and where you want to be in 5 years. A great vendor becomes an extension of your dealership and grows with your business.
Can The Vendor Bring Value To Your Business?
- Are their products and services fit for your industry? There’s nothing worse than a website vendor that pushes irrelevant products to place on your website. These products must make sense for your business. For example, if you are lacking website traffic, a great vendor would suggest that you invest in a Search Engine Marketing/Pay-Per-Click campaign focused on driving visitors to your website.
- Are their employees credible? Do their employees seem knowledgeable? I’m not just talking about their sales person but everyone in the organization – from the customer service representative all the way up to the General Manager. Take time to ask about their employee’s backgrounds. I’ll give you a hint: the best vendors have representatives that are Google certified and Bing Ads accredited. Why? They not only know what they are doing – and trust me, they do it well – but they often have the inside scoop on what is happening on the Search Engines, first.
Are They Good At What They Do?
- Can you trust their design style? It’s great to offer hints to what you like for your website design but be sure to leave the user experience and design creativity to the experts. Why? There is a science to creating websites that will allow your visitors to easily navigate your website to find what they want and keep them engaged with your web pages. A noteworthy vendor will understand the way your consumers behave online and apply that knowledge to your website design.
How Do They Measure Success?
- Do they really understand what quality leads are to your business? By definition, quality leads are prospects that have a higher probability of completing a desired outcome. A great website vendor will help you understand that these leads are different from website visitors and will track those metrics separately. We often see in the industry headlines: “[Dealership Name] increased their leads by 300% by switching to [website vendor].” In reality, that simply is not true as they are measuring website traffic and form submissions as one metric. And we all know, you can’t measure metrics that aren’t comparable.
- Do they provide reporting so you are always privy to how your website is doing? In addition to having open communication with your vendor, it is important that you have access to your website performance. You won’t know how to improve if you never know where you stand. An even better vendor will give you a call to explain your report and make recommendations on how to improve on a monthly basis.
Lastly, Are There Any Reviews/Testimonials Out There About Them?
- What do those reviews/testimonials tell you about their business? Are their reviews/testimonials filled with marketing fluff or do they sound more like this:
“Anthony and his team at Commercial Web Services have been nothing but outstanding to work with. My company needed a brand new website from scratch and they were there to create it in a very timely manner. Any changes we requested were handled almost immediately. They provided excellent training for a person like myself that has very little experience in building websites. I highly recommend this company they are extremely personable and are there to help with every step in creating the website and are equally available once the website is live.”
-Stacey DeRosa, Product Support Manager at Industrial Handling Equipment
“Berry Companies Inc. has been using Commercial Web Services (CWS) for all of our eight dealer and manufacturer websites for over seven years. The showrooms and specifications are automatically added and updated, of which include Bobcat, Komatsu, Yale, Superior Broom Construction Equipment and many more. Their staff includes a Search Engine Specialist which advises our campaigns and provide reports, along with the customer service staff who are very efficient and helpful when revising content, customizing or designing a new site, or addressing any questions or concerns I may have. I enjoy working with them and have gotten to know several of the CWS staff on a first name basis. I appreciate their efficient and quick response to the needs of our companies’ websites.”
– Jan Jaye-Smith, Marketing Communications at Berry Companies Inc.
Ask these questions before committing. And remember that when choosing a vendor be certain that you’re not just picking a vendor but a partner, an extension of your dealership who will help you accomplish your business initiatives and goals.