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Web focus for Kia dealers

A focus on dealer websites and the network’s embracement of digital practices helped Kia Motors (UK) Limited achieve its 2012 record new car sales success.

Head of customer communications John Bache has overseen the revamp of the manufacturer’s dealer web sites and its accompanying SEO and PPC policy which has seen website traffic increase dramatically.

With around a third of traffic coming via mobiles, all Kia’s dealer websites are also enabled for handheld devices.

The brand’s website strategy has been key to Kia delivering its record sales year which saw new sales up by 24 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011 equating to 66,629 units and a 3.26 share of the UK’s new car market.

Bache will share the brand’s experiences, best practice and statistics at AM and Razsor’s Digital Marketing Conference which takes place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on 13th February 2013.

A series of dealer workshops encouraged greater use of the dealer websites last year and much of the content including videos has been ported across from the main manufacturer site. However, a good performance in organic listings demands fresh content and regular updates and Bache admits it can be a ‘battle’ albeit one which has already netted a number of victories.

He said: “We found a number of dealers were bidding on generic brand and model terms for PPC campaigns which is far too broad, counter-productive and, for individual dealers, a waste of money. We are aware dealers will put resources into their group websites and we just have to accept that whilst encouraging them to give as much time to the Kia dealer web pages by making them relevant, easy to use and attractive to consumers.”

Kia’s revised PPC approach is simple: product searches are sent direct to the main web pages; regional searchers are re-directed to a landing page showing the dealers in the area; and browsers who are town specific land on the corresponding dealer page.

“We are reacting to what consumers want,” says Bache. “If they are specific in their search, they expect the results to reflect their search accurately.”

Kia’s web strategy continues to evolve and these will no doubt cascade down to its network.

The brand has just launched a customer review project which will see it become the first vehicle manufacturer to publish genuine, unfiltered, independently-verified owner reviews – making itself openly accountable to its customers. Since spring 2012, more than 3,000 customer reviews of Kia cars have been posted to the company’s website – with an average product satisfaction rating to date of 9/10 it also encourages prospective customers to ask current owners questions on the site.

The next step of this project is to roll out dealer scores on to the main dealer locator and on to dealer websites themselves.

It’s a brave step not without concern amongst the network but the scores have been positive and there can be no doubting that the initiative is designed for the convenience of the consumer.

Kia’s strategy was developed as a direct response to research into public interest in online reviews which shows 72 per cent of consumers trust online reviews with 67 per cent reading between two and ten reviews before making the purchase decision.

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