Since the World Wide Web first became available to the general public in the early 1990s, much has changed in this vast universe we call the Internet. I’ve had the opportunity to see many of these changes unfold and impact business first-hand.
Networks are faster, browsers are more powerful, and website design and functionality has become nearly boundless. Topping it all off, almost everyone owns at least one device they can use to access the Internet — and people who own and use multiple devices that access the internet are becoming more common each day.
A Benefit That Poses an Undeniable Challenge
This dramatic increase in Internet consumption by consumers has many implications for business. On one hand, more people with greater access to a robust web experience means our stores can be “open” and ready to serve all visitors 24/7. What business person doesn’t love that?
On the other hand, almost every business has recognized this increase in web consumption and launched a website — or 2, or 3, or 10.
This means we’re not only competing against other auto dealers for consumers’ attention, but in many ways, we’re also competing against every other website for attention from the same customers and prospects.
The overall effect is that consumer retention has gone down. With so much to discover and explore on the web, less and less gets remembered. And that’s just during the “surfing” aspect of web use.
Add the offers that Marketers flood the web with, and we now have a full-scale, 24/7 war on the Internet for the attention and business of US consumers.
So, how do you win?
Effectively Communicating Your Promises
With so much happening on the web, there’s one straightforward way to stand out and be remembered: your Brand.
In simplest terms, your “Brand” is the promise(s) your business makes to the public – and “Branding” is how you communicate what your business stands for. People easily forget your current special offer or latest commercial, but we don’t often forget what others – people and businesses alike – promise us.
But how do you extend those promises – your Brand – on the web, in order to be remembered and attract business?
Below are some examples of how we do it at Rick Case Honda.
(And no, I’m not just talking about placing your logo or color scheme on your site and calling it a day. I’m talking about extending your Brand promises to your website in a tangible manner that people can interact with and benefit from.)
Ease of Use, Information and Customer Satisfaction that Resonates with Our Audience
Note: Visit RickCaseHonda.com to experience these examples yourself.
1. Homepage – One of our Brand promises at Rick Case Honda is that we’ll quickly help people find what they need or want in order to buy, lease, service or accessorize a Honda. In almost all cases, our customers simply want to save money. We recognize this, and have designed our website to help them easily do it.
As a result, our Homepage clearly displays links to calculate fuel economy savings on new Hondas, a special offer trade-in program for current Honda drivers, a “Quick Quote” form, and Service and Parts specials in the main slideshow.
Our web visitors not only use this functionality to easily learn about the money they can save with us, but this easy functionality also helps create an experience with our Brand that’s hard for them to forget: “Rick Case Honda knows I want to save, and their website easily helps me do it.”
2. Navigation Menu – Another Brand promise we make at Rick Case Honda is that we provide you with information to help you make the smartest decision for your needs. In almost every section of the top navigation bar on our website, you’ll find links to information that helps customers research and learn about our Rick Case Honda and our products and services.
Of course, our Navigation Menu includes substantial information on our inventory and specials. But that’s standard in the auto industry — what’s not standard is our willingness to go above and beyond in terms of the information we’ve made available to our online audience.
3. Customer Reviews – At Rick Case Honda, our motto is “Treat every customer like we would our best friend”. That’s also the most important promise we make as a Brand.
We use our website to showcase the results of that Brand promise by including real customer reviews in the black background area on the bottom of every webpage. No matter if you’re looking for new or pre-owned Hondas, Service, or Parts, you’ll see what other customers say about their experience with Rick Case Honda.
Publishing real customer reviews isn’t exclusive to Rick Case Honda, but how we execute this strategy on our website to directly align with our most important Brand promise is — and that’s why it effectively helps remember our commitment to their satisfaction.
It’s Not Easy, But it’s Worth it
For the better part of a decade, we’ve worked long and hard to make our entire digital presence – including our website – the best it could be. One of our goals has always been to provide a Brand experience on our website that’s consistent with our offline, in-store customer experience.
There were, and still are, many challenges to conquering the Internet auto marketing universe. But understanding key branding principles and how to extend them to your website will help you achieve online success.