Automakers With Good Web Sites Win

Auto-shopping-tablet-Shutterstock-AAn automaker's Web site is intended to entice shoppers to take a closer look at a brand and maybe even get people into showrooms. That's a tall order, but does it work? Yes -- a new study on Web site effectiveness by J.D. Power and Associates says OEM Web sites can influence vehicle consideration and get people to take action. That is, if auto shoppers find it easy to get information on a Web site -- and like how it aligns with a brand.

According to the firm's 2013 semiannual Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study, which measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer Web sites during the new-vehicle shopping process based on information/content, navigation, appearance and speed, new-vehicle shoppers are more likely to test drive a vehicle following a satisfying experience on an automotive manufacturer’s Web site on either a desktop or tablet.



The study finds that among automotive shoppers on desktops who are “delighted” with their experience on a manufacturer’s Web site, 72% are more likely to test drive a vehicle after visiting the manufacturer Web site, compared with only 25% of “disappointed” shoppers.

Based on consumer responses, Daimler's Smart brand Web site ranks highest in overall satisfaction. Jeep ranks second, followed by Lincoln and Acura.

In addition to good multi-screen scalability, automakers have to have a site that is both efficient and brand-relevant. “While there are some common elements across all Web sites, each site should have a unique look and feel and align with the brand’s image,” said Arianne Walker, senior director of media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power.

While tablet ownership has risen 23% since mid-2012 among consumers who evaluated a site, consumers still would rather see info on "old-fashioned" desktop formats. Automakers who use their tablet sites as portals to desktop sites find this works better than those tablet sites that direct shoppers to a mobile Web site: on a 1,000 point scale, satisfaction among users who do the firmer is at 820 versus 798 among those who are directed to a mobile Web site. And consumers using a tablet also favor viewing the OEM site itself in desktop format. 

The study also finds that shoppers are more likely to access automotive information while at home (37%) than while shopping or running errands (16%).

"Car seller with car buyer looking at tablet photo from Shutterstock"

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