Automotive brand websites drive trials

31 January 2013

NEW YORK: New car shoppers are significantly more likely to test drive a vehicle if they have had a good experience on an automaker's website, new research has found.

The 2013 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study, from J.D. Power, the market researcher, measured the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites for shoppers, based on information and content, navigation, appearance and speed.

It found that, among those car shoppers who said they were 'delighted' with a website, 72% said they were more likely to test drive a vehicle as a result. But just 25% of the shoppers left 'disappointed' with a website said the same. 

"Finding the right balance of content, ease of navigation and site speed is what ultimately drives new-vehicle shopper satisfaction with the website," said Arianne Walker, senior director of media & marketing solutions at J.D. Power.

"While there are some common elements across all websites, each site should have a unique look and feel and align with the brand's image."

A website that works well across all platforms is another important factor, as consumers were found to be using a variety of devices to look at sites. A large majority (92%) of new-vehicle shoppers who own a tablet, or own both a tablet and a smartphone, expect to have the same content available on a desktop website on all devices.

"The industry has generally chosen to maintain two sites, rather than a third one for tablet shoppers, reducing the burden of maintaining and keeping information updated and consistent across three separate sites," Walker added.

Elsewhere in the J.D. Power report, Daimler's Smart brand website was the online property ranked highest in overall satisfaction, with sites from Jeep, Lincoln and Acura rounding out the top four.

Data sourced from J.D. Power and Associates; additional content by Warc staff