JD Power: Pushy Auto Websites Turn Off Buyers

JD Power: Pushy Auto Websites Turn Off Buyers

For the second consecutive time, Honda’s website ranks at the top of the list of auto manufacturer sites in terms of usefulness in the auto-buying process and satisfying new-vehicle shoppers, according to a study from J.D. Power Associates.

Honda had an index score of 883 on a 1,000-point scale, and performed particularly well in all factors that contribute to satisfaction, the study found. Following Honda in the rankings are Porsche (with a score of 862), MINI (861), and Jeep and Infiniti in a tie (860 each).

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Hard-Sell Tactics Stall Auto-Buyers

Results from the study – which are compiled from new-vehicle shopper evaluations of auto company websites in four key areas: appearance, speed, navigation and information/content – also reveal that other automakers have become too pushy in their efforts to sell vehicles quickly and are turning customers off.

GM Brand Sites Below Average

Many well-known General Motors-brand websites, including those for Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and GMC, performed below the industry average in terms of satisfaction. BMW, Jaguar, Subaru and Scion were below the line as well.

In light of the turbulent automotive market, these manufacturers have redesigned their websites with the intent of quickly selling inventory, but have, at the same time,  earned low satisfaction scores. In particular, these companies have focused their sites on lower-purchase-funnel activities, such as “build a vehicle,” “get a quote” and “find a dealer,” which do not help answer the majority of questions shoppers have when visiting a manufacturer’s website, J.D. Power Associates noted.

“Specifically, these redesigned sites have considerably low satisfaction scores with regard to navigation,” said Arianne Walker, director of marketing/media research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Shoppers struggle to find simple information, such as compelling vehicle images and clear presentations of vehicle options and features.”

Kia, Acura Score Well Despite Redesign

Not all redesigned websites did poorly, however. Kia’s and Acura’s Web sites, which have been recently overhauled, rank well above the industry average in terms of navigation. These sites similarly offer a number of lower-funnel links, but offer additional upper-funnel links – such as vehicle features, options, photos and video links – directly on their home pages, which help shoppers find the model-specific information they are looking for.

“Providing a satisfying Web site experience greatly increases the likelihood that a new-vehicle shopper will visit the showroom for a test drive, which creates a solid opportunity for manufacturers to increase dealer traffic,” added Walker. “Given Honda’s growing market share compared with 2008, their top-performing website in addition to many other factors, is just another component of the brand’s success.”

About the study: The 2009 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study – Wave 2, is based on evaluations from more than 11,700 new-vehicle shoppers who indicated they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months. This wave of the study – which is semi-annual and in its 10th year – was fielded between April and May 2009.