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Kia ‘The Power to Surprise’ digital campaign

Kia ‘The Power to Surprise’ digital campaign

Best practice from E3

Kia Motors (UK) needed a stunning new website that embodied their brand promise the ‘Power to Surprise’. And they turned to digital specialists E3 to help. The site had to persuade users to reassess their preconceptions of the brand and create desire for the cars. Combined with this, the site needed to deliver maximum sales during extremely tough trading conditions.

E3 persuaded Kia that digital marketing directly influences car buying behaviour. Rather than cutting back their budget, Kia decided to increase their online spending.

The new site delivered a beautifully crafted but highly usable experience. With its focus on superior design and eye-catching appeal, the site created recognition for the brand and catapulted it into a league of its own.

E3’s expertise has had a massive impact on the business. Since its launch in March 2009, commercial performance of the site has improved - sales leads have increased significantly - brochure downloads are up by 338% against a target increase of 50%.

Kia is now trading very well; in fact, their market share has risen from 1.4% to 2.93%.


Kia Motors has overtaken Ford and is now the fourth largest global car manufacturer.

For the past 12 months, the whole automotive industry has been operating in extremely tough trading conditions, but the Kia brand has grown dramatically and is on track to achieve in excess of 50,000 sales in the UK. The UK automotive market has seen sales fall by 30% in 2009, yet Kia sales are increasing above 2008 levels.

Kia Motors’ recent growth in the UK marketplace was fuelled in part by value positioning and also a focus on design. As desirability for the cars grew, Kia needed to be able to increase brand desirability and believed that the way to do this was to invest in digital.

Kia was prepared to invest heavily in a website that would allow customers to embrace the brand and one that would ultimately drive sales leads.


The new site needed to:

•    Reflect the new confidence of Kia by increasing desire for the cars and persuading users to reassess the brand
•    Improve user experience to ensure customers can find information and familiarise themselves with the range, choose their model and contact a dealer
•    Improve purchase path and drive sales leads by increasing brochure downloads and dealer searches

The solution

We put the customer at the heart of our strategy and conducted extensive research into consumer car-buying behaviour. It was realised that the customers’ online experience and improved usability was key to improving commercial performance. Feedback from the dealers also shaped the new site.

Online brand experience

Kia wanted to evoke their brand positioning "the power to surprise" in an engaging digital experience. A truly original approach was needed to present their products online. We broke away from traditional automotive website design in order to differentiate from the other manufacturers. We took a truly original approach to presenting the range of cars by using elegant design and interactive functionality.

Outstanding example of interactivity

We developed an engaging homepage which instantly gave the user a taste of the Kia brand. We broke convention and created a ‘scrollscape’ - a small interactive space, like a mini microsite, which gives users a more immersive experience from the moment they arrive and allows them to access relevant content quickly.

The homepage ‘scrollscape’ uses panels to display a huge variety of content and is flexible enough to be changed anytime to support current campaigns and model launches. It is an innovative and cost effective way to react quickly to market changes quickly and flexibly.  

Two ways to improve commercial performance

With fewer customers in the marketplace, we needed to work much harder to convert each sale.  A two pronged approach was taken - increased interactivity so customers could engage directly with the brand and the information architecture was improved in a bid to increase commercial performance.

1.    Improved navigation

Information architecture was redesigned with a focus on the buying process throughout the site. This includes supporting users to find the right car; giving them information they need to make decisions and improving the route to contact a dealer.

2.    Functional tools to help the user buy a car

We understood the confusion about the Kia brand – customers had a problem in recognising cars in the range along with their names.

•    A range overview tool, known as ‘meganav’ that shows the entire range visually at a glance and helps users find the model that is right for them.

•    Users could then use the tool ‘Design my Kia’ where rich model pages allow users to explore and configure each model.


Since its launch in March 2009, the new site has had a massive impact on the business.

Results have exceeded all expectations with a massive increase across all key metrics.

Users now spend more time on the site engaging with the content; time spent by users is up by a minute for the average visit.

The site is driving increased footfall to the dealerships:

•    Brochure downloads up 338% and135% increase in offline brochure requests compared to a target increase of only 50%.
•    Dealer searches rose by 104% to over 60,000 a month
•    Calls to dealers originating from the site are up by 35%.

In fact, market share has risen from 1.4% to 2.93%. This is partly due to the launch of new models, but the new site has undoubtedly contributed to this.

“We are operating in very tough trading conditions with fewer customers in the marketplace so we need to work much harder to convert each sale. These outstanding figures demonstrate that an effective way to do this is through improved digital marketing,” said Marketing General Manager, Kia, Lawrence Hamilton.

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