With the forced elimination of votes for “in-house” responses, the voting in this category was easier to manage this year. No matter how you slice it, there are just a few large players in this group that do a great job year after year. Then there are the “others,” namely manufacturer sites or those mandated by the manufacturer. No one likes to be told, “You have to do this with this provider,” especially business owners and Internet directors who know this aspect of their business and monitor it closely. Many dealers who do have factory mandates have chosen to create secondary sites that appeal more to their audience and their taste in order to drive customers to the showroom.
This year, video is becoming more and more important to dealers sites in drawing search engine traffic and engaging customers. Providers that recognize this will lead the way throughout the year.
This year’s Diamond Award winner is a three-peat winner. In close voting, TK Carsites managed to retain the top spot, one that they have held since 2006.
What makes the difference to dealers? According to Richard Valenta, president and CEO of TK Carsites, “A customer service culture. Our staff takes great pride in making our customers happy. But in the end, dealers just want to sell more cars.” A new winner in this category, eBizAutos, claimed the Platinum Award. Although eBizAutos has been providing dealer Web sites since 2001, this marks the first time they have had a sufficient number of votes to qualify for the award
Rounding out the category, Dealer.com is back again as this year’s Gold Award winner. Dealer.com has been a consistent award winner, appearing in three of the last four years’ awards.