Volvo has launched a new Web site in the U.S. that it hopes will benefit from a consumer trend: while people are spending more time online, they are visiting fewer and fewer sites.
Volvo hopes its new Web site, designed for speed and customization based on visitor behavior, attracts people who are looking to get more done at one place and want an emotionally satisfying experience. The site extends the Volvo theme, "There's more to life than a Volvo. That's why you drive one."
The company said the old site wasn't allowing consumers to connect with the car on an emotional level, wasn't integrating brand stories and campaigns and offered no platform to allow consumers to have share of voice. Those latter elements were on separate sites. Now all ad elements including research are intertwined with brand messaging; and the site embeds social media elements on Twitter, YouTube and elsewhere.
The site can "monitor and deduce" what visitors are looking for and personalize the experience so the next time someone visits, the site "remembers" and configures data and appearance for their tastes and personality. The site has a Star Trek-like vehicle configurator in which the car rotates inside a virtual screen that has "buttons" and panels that, when touched with the cursor, change the car's colors and accessories.
"If we look at auto websites across the industry, it's more about pushing info out to the consumer," Linda Gangeri, national ad manager for Volvo Cars of North America, tells Marketing Daily. "What we are trying to do -- and it's a fundamental change -- is to create a configured experience: we learn about consumer behavior on the site; we know where the consumer has been and what they are interested in and will serve them content based on that. It's not as robust as the Amazon model, [but] that's ultimately where we want to get."
She points out that consumers are using automaker's sites, "so, absolutely, it's more about having the site be a real repository of information consumers can use without feeling they need to go to a third party."
Gangeri adds that the site, via Euro RSCG's New York office, has been in development for a year and a half. The agency was the interactive leader for both the U.S. site and the global Web site on which it is based, and which launched earlier.
She says the site revamp precedes the fourth-quarter 2010 launch of the S60 sedan, which will be primarily a digital effort, with a digital pre-launch, and launch campaign driving people to the Web. "There will also be a lot of focus on social media where we can build word-of-mouth and brand consideration."
Volvo might as well have been responding to consumer dismay. According to marketing firm J.D. Power & Associates' latest take on automotive manufacturer Web sites, consumers want more rich media, and better execution of content. The firm's 2010 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study (wave 1) released last week also said 360-degree views, cool video and content aren't enough. The key is fast and seamless content delivery.
The study, fielded in November and based on responses from 10,900 new-vehicle shoppers who indicated they would be in the market within the next 24 months, suggests that heavy "page weights" that take a long time to load do no good because they hurt consumer opinion of the site.
In a comparison of speed, appearance, navigation and information/ content, Kia came out on top, having improved its performance form last year. The site's "Experience Forte" was especially popular with auto shoppers, per J.D. Power. Honda and sibling Acura were next-highest-rated.