The site, found by clicking on the U.S. area of www.landrover.com, hadn't had a major redo for roughly four years and used 1996 technology, said Andrew Polsinelli, general manager of Internet and customer relations at the sport-utility vehicle marketer. Among his duties when he joined Land Rover in January from Nissan North America was to improve the Web site.
Land Rover fared poorly in a consumer study of the Web sites of 41 carmakers, released in February. Auto consultancy Automotive Marketing Consultants and Eisbrenner Public Relations surveyed 300 consumers, who viewed the 41 sites. Land Rover's site ranked No. 36 for pricing and purchasing information, No. 34 for site effectiveness, No. 25 for site functionality and No. 23 for product information, giving it an overall ranking of No. 32.
EASIER TO GET LOST
The original site, unlike the newer one, didn't provide suggested prices for Land Rover vehicles, Mr. Polsinelli said. The earlier incarnation "was a little wordy" and "it was real easy for people to get lost on the site."
Now, if consumers want to learn whether a model is a four-by-four, they get the information quicker, whereas in the past they had to sift through pages and pages of data. (However, the new site also requires users to download Macromedia's Flash 4 Player, which might prevent some people from viewing it.) There also are better links to dealers, a new area discussing retailers' quality of customer care and new areas with test-drive invitations.
Agency.com, Dallas, worked closely with Land Rover's ad agency, GSD&M, Austin, Texas, to develop the improved site. The redo reflects the new "Courage" campaign that broke in May from GSD&M. The agency won the $30 million account in March.
BACK TO THE PAST
With the new campaign, Land Rover returned to the www.landrover.com address. The marketer had switched to best4X4landrover.com in 1998 after British parent, Rover Group, introduced its Web site.
Lori Webster, VP-creative at Agency.com, said visitors to www.landrover.com, the worldwide site, must then click on the U.S. icon. The look of the U.S. area differs from the global site because the brand here only sells upscale SUVs and has a different customer base. Abroad, Land Rover sells pickup trucks to farmers and the military.
Mr. Polsinelli said no ads are planned to tell consumers about the upgraded site. It's too early to gauge consumers' reaction to the revisions.
The effort also hasn't been pushed by Ford Motor Co., which acquired Land Rover in May from Germany's Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, he said.
Land Rover sales through October slipped by nearly 7% to 22,201 units vs. the same period a year ago, according to Automotive News.