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Rethinking the Automotive Website

Auto manufacturers need to rethink their entire approach to their websites. The typical content that every OEM displays on their website is getting stale and boring. Yes, you should still have a vehicle details page, and all the shopping tools that go with it, but why not start including different types of content outside of the normal stuff you find on every auto manufacturer’s website.

For example, include images and historical info about each model. Let consumers see the evolution of the vehicle and all the various body styles it has gone through, the good and even the not so good. Don’t be afraid to express your brand in new ways. Consumers appreciate when brands are open and honest. That’s actually a key essential if you want consumers to connect with your brand in a real way. Again, showing some historical information about each body style that is interesting and adds to the appeal of owning and driving that model is a great way of doing that. This idea leads me to my next point.

Change Your Lifestyle

Why are auto companies creating lifestyle sections to show what it’s like to own their brand? Shouldn’t the entire brand site be tailored around the brand experience/lifestyle? Instead of a lifestyle section, make a lifestyle website. If your brand truly does have a lifestyle appeal this should be easy to do and consumers should be able to easily identify it and connect with it. If a brand has a difficult time making their entire site represent their brand lifestyle, they don’t truly have a brand lifestyle and consumers know it.

Some of these brands have a lifestyle section on their site that includes truly compelling content and does portray what it’s like to own one of its models. The problem is, these sections receive very little traffic. I know from firsthand experience working with auto brands, measuring their websites and reporting the volume of sales matched to visitors across every page on the site. Visitors aren’t making their way to these sections, so obviously buyers aren’t either. Many brands aren’t advertising and driving traffic to their lifestyle website sections, but the biggest reason for the lack of traffic is that consumers don’t go to a car website and ask themselves “what’s it like to own this brand?”.

Like I said, when consumers are presented with this lifestyle content it can be persuasive and compelling, but they aren’t actively seeking it out. That’s exactly why you need to create your entire website in a way that represents the lifestyle qualities of your brand, not just a section on the site. You can’t fake a brand lifestyle….well, I guess you can, but consumers see right through it.

Build & Price Could be Twice as Nice

One significant improvement auto manufacturers can make to their websites can actually be done by combining two of their most essential shopping tools. Combine Build & Price with Inventory Search. As consumers build their vehicle, adding and changing options, the inventory in their selected geographic area should be displayed on the same page. Don’t allow consumers to spend time building a vehicle they won’t actually be able to shop for or ultimately purchase. That’s a terrible consumer experience, and wastes time a consumer could be spending on something positive that entices them to buy your brand.

I know this seems like a simple and easy idea to implement, but it actually isn’t. Not only does it take some technology and data improvements, but it also requires coordination across your dealer base to stay on top of their inventory listings. However, I firmly believe that it would be more than worth it in the end.

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