Ford is hoping a new Web site will help people "get" Sync, its multifarious voice-activated, in-vehicle connectivity system. The site is intended both to give owners a resource for the platform and to give people at the lower end of the purchase funnel a nudge toward Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
The new site also happens to adhere to a strategic tenet of Ford marketing evinced in a number of social media and traditional ad campaigns: let shoppers and owners do the talking. Ads for Fiesta, Fusion, Focus and Explorer feature real people, often taken by surprise in faux press conferences. One raft of ads for Fusion has a pop-up TV studio that surprises people arriving at gas stations with competitive vehicles.
"Like other marketing efforts, we are trying to get real people to talk about Sync and how they are integrating it into their lives," says Scott Kelly, Ford's digital marketing manager, who explains that front and center on the site are a series of videos aimed at people who have put Ford or Lincoln on their shopping list. The videos feature real Ford and Lincoln vehicle owners showing how they use Sync. "Then, on the support side [for owners] we have now made it much easier to get information."
Kelly explains that the site -- at www.ford.com/sync, which is actually the first revamp of the Sync Web site since the platform launched over three years ago -- no longer requires owners to log in to get information on specific Sync features. "Sync is cutting-edge, so just like all new technology there is a learning curve; we just wanted to give consumers and owners a simpler way to get to the technology."
Ford got a cold shower from J.D. Power & Associates and Consumer Reports earlier this year specifically because survey respondents commenting on some of the upgraded technology for Sync (encompassed within the MyFord Touch platform) said the technology was too confusing. That lowered Ford's scores in benchmark studies like J.D. Power's Initial Quality survey.
The videos on the site have owners talking about how they do things like stay in touch, get driver assistance, and get entertainment and peace of mind, with each video section headlined by the first name and last initial of the Ford owner featured. They have titles like "Sync actually helped me plan my husband's surprise" -- Aisha P.; and "If she's in an accident, this 911 voice comes on." -- Eric S.
For owners and others who want a tech immersion, the new site has a "Configurations" tab on the home page that delineates the four Sync packages -- Basic SYNC, SYNC with Voice-Activated Navigation, SYNC with MyFord, and SYNC with MyFord Touch -- and how each one works.
There is also a "Commands" tab that launches an animated page on which voice commands activate Sync to provide specific information. There is also a "Features" tab on the home page explaining things like Sync AppLink, Sync Services, Voice-Activated Navigation and audible text messaging.
Kelly says the site is also more brand specific, "so you will choose the brand first and then learn about Sync. There's a Ford and a Lincoln route."
Ford will also do marketing communications to tout the new site. The company is doing a digital campaign for the Sync microsite, with ads to will appear on sites like KBB.com, and edmunds.com, where people are deciding between this or that vehicle. "Sync is a differentiator; it has the capacity to put people over the edge toward the Ford side."