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6 Selling Tips from Auto Manufacturers

We live in a time where our choices for just about everything are seemingly endless. Take the auto industry, for example. In 2017, there were more than 250 models of new cars to choose from. Each came with various options.

Ecommerce merchants can learn a great deal from auto manufacturers, who spend millions to understand how people shop and the choices they’re likely to make. This is evident both in showrooms and on the internet. Studying their marketing and websites can tell us a great deal about consumers.

6 Selling Tips from Auto Manufacturers

Consumers shop by price range before comparing features. Once consumers find the core auto solution, the ultimate choice boils down to a comparison of features. Volkswagen, for example, offers five different versions of its Jetta sedan in three different price ranges: $19,000; $22,000-$25,000; and $28,000. The Passat, its midsize sedan, is available in two ranges, starting at $25,000 and $30,000.

By listing similar products in various price ranges and allowing shoppers to narrow searches by price range, Volkswagen can better present what buyers can afford and help them steer clear of features that are out of reach.

Volkswagen Passat comparison

Price range shopping is an important feature of most online stores and showrooms. Source: Volkswagen.

When presented with various price levels, people tend to go for the middle range. The Jetta’s mid-range SE series is available in three price points. The SE costs at least $3,600 more than the base model, but the R-Line, which features leatherette seats and fog lights, is only $850 more than the SE. It is not a coincidence that the R-Line series is showcased in red.

VW Jetta price ranges

Listing the most popular choice in the center helps draw attention to that product. In this case, it is the centrally priced car, but displaying products in order of price is not always necessary. Source: Volkswagen.

Buying decisions are based on emotion. Automakers know this. It’s why they initially display cars in different colors. In the image above, the budget level Jetta S is blue. This color represents trust, security, and safety. It’s neither bold nor sleek. The focus is on a car that provides the necessities of reliably getting you where you need to go. White, red, and black are used for the mid-range options. All of these colors are rather sporty, but the red represents passion and importance. White is clean; black is edgy and sophisticated.

Evoking emotion in other product types can be as simple as using context-of-use images and the right backgrounds.

Ford’s website goes beyond the typical showroom presentation by incorporating realistic images. Ford promotes its new Ranger as a tough, off-road pick-up. A photo that shows the vehicle muddied up near the mountains is compelling context-of-use.

Ford Ranger is hyped as a tough vehicle for enthusiasts.

Real storytelling is key, even if that means muddying up the product. Source: Ford.

Seeing available colors first helps make key decisions. Clicking to view all the details, only to find your favorite color isn’t available, is a waste of time. Color is a driving force behind car purchases. So putting the selection front and center is key. The same can be said for apparel that is available in different colors.

Chevy's color options

Chevy’s site uses circular swatches to show the available colors. Chevy then uses logical icons to designate various features.

Kohl's color options on category page.

Displaying color options at the category or search-results level can eliminate frustration and help keep shoppers in the site. Source: Kohl’s.

Media sells. Visit any auto manufacturer’s website, and you’ll see lots of photos, videos, and illustrations. That’s because supporting media content is crucial to finalizing decisions. Key product and landing pages should include a good mix of imagery, including close-ups of fine details.

Convey a sense of community. User-generated content in the form of product reviews and storytelling is among the best selling tactics. By inviting customers to contribute, you open a new level of trust and emotion.

The Volkswagen Community

The Volkswagen community pages include helpful articles, many of which spotlight VW owners.

Hosting real stories is a good way to connect with the masses. While larger companies often turn off commenting on posts, smaller sites should encourage readers to chime in. Ongoing discussions can help with both search engine optimization as well as direct selling. Just make sure to moderate heavily to avoid the backlash of publishing spam and hateful speech.

Study and Learn

One of the best ways to find fresh ideas for increasing engagement and sales is to study industries other than your own — especially ones that spend millions each year. Automakers are just one of the many sectors that have done a great deal of homework for us.

Pamela Hazelton
Pamela Hazelton
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