Tesla recently announced that pre-orders of its Model 3 hit a quarter of a million in just the first 36 hours.

Now seems like a good time to have a little look at the Tesla website.

I've previously written about how frustrating automotive websites have traditionally been, with copycat designs and poor UX as standard.

So, how does Tesla's website shape up?

Few superlatives

The thing I noticed most on Tesla's website was the lack of celebratory guff.

All you have to do to find out what I mean by this is look at luxury car websites. Here's an example of typical copywriting from other manufacturers:

  • A masterpiece of intelligence (Mercedes).
  • The centre of attention wherever it goes (BMW).
  • Meticulous in every detail. Unrivalled as a whole (Cadillac).

Okay, Tesla perhaps has enough brand cachet to avoid this marketing speak, but it still deserves praise for the functional way it sells its features. Here are some section headings:

  • Built around the driver.
  • Seating for seven + gear.
  • The touchscreen.
  • Everything fits.

To be fair to the competition, this kind of plain-speaking copy is actually back in fashion and many luxury sedan makers are with Tesla on this one.

Check out Lexus and Jaguar for more simple and effective copy.

Homepage - Tesla's roots as a tech brand

One of the reasons for Tesla's success has been a focused and confident brand - all about selling one uniquely designed product (admittedly now expanded to three models).

This uncompromising cool taps more into the success of tech products such as the iPhone than it does the mass market or even the performance car market.

The website homepage (at time of Model 3 pre-order) is a perfect example of the Tesla 'tech' brand.

No image of a car, just an option to reserve or learn more.

tesla homepage

The Model 3 page - it could be selling SaaS

Again, the 'learn more' page for the Model 3 looks for all the world like a tech/software explainer page, but for the car shots.

Iconography demonstrating key features and an embedded Vimeo of the launch sit within a responsive page that resizes very well.

The imagery is simple and classy, with the background video particularly quick to load.

tesla 3 page

Model S and X product pages - a triumph of scrolling sales

The pages showcasing the Model S and Model X are different kettles of fish, though.

They conform slightly more to an automotive sales page; very long (I scrolled 18 folds on my mac) with detailed specs and plenty of video and imagery used to sell various features (safety, engineering, design etc.).

Here are some points that stood out to me as inventive marketing.

Personas/testimonials to the fore

One of the criticisms that can be levied at some of the poorer automotive websites is an impersonal design.

This can happen when people are excluded from marketing, perhaps if a site is intended for international audiences. Tesla, though, makes sure that people are right at the front on its Model S product page.

These video testimonials make complete sense, given Tesla is pretty new in the market and many potential buyers may be unsure about taking the leap and buying one.

On top of the social proof angle, these four videos each emphasise one of the USPs of the product - safety, efficiency, sustainability and driving experience.

These selling points also help to allay certain fears for electric car functionality. Will it conk out? Will it take forever to charge?

tesla model x

Cross-referenced content

I particularly liked the way the Model S product page referenced blog content that updated or added more detail on a particular topic.

This idea of further reading for the interested customer helps to prevent bloat on the product page but also gives the impression of iterative improvement at Tesla (a company reknowned for research and development).

Though a blog can sometimes feel like a superficial part of a website (full of hyped press releases), Tesla uses it for the right purpose, to showcase information that isn't digestible in other areas of the site.

Updates and more information via the Tesla blog

tesla website

Updates and more information via the Tesla blog

tesla website

Short video

We're told time and again that long videos are not engaged with. Instagram may have expanded to allow a minute of video but 15 seconds is still nearer to the optimum.

Tesla has 15-second videos of two of its smartest driving features (autopilot and autopark) that neatly show off the functionality, making it cool but not boring or salesy.

More of this is needed from traditional car manufacturers who may be tempted to simply repurpose longer TV spots for their websites.

Have you got a Tesla? Why not let us know about the buying experience below.

Ben Davis

Published 5 April, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (4)

Sidney Blank

Sidney Blank, Partner at MBLM

Great breakdown of the user experience. I find the testimonials by actual drivers to be the most unusual idea. It creates a kind of folksy intimacy with the brand that is a bit at odds with the otherwise very slick presentation. That's part of the appeal for me though. For more on the special relationship between drivers and car brands you might be interested in this report that we published recently http://mblm.com/stories/why-automotive-brands-are-the-most-intimate

about 2 years ago

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Reza Amin, Ecommerce Manager at Cult

I totally agree with being different and informative comparing to any other automotive brands on desktop and tablets but why they have missed to target mobile users more efficiently with better UX.

about 2 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

It's not surprising that the marketing approaches differ. Tesla is selling new cars. But other manufacturers are promoting new *and* second hand cars, because (1) that's what their dealers sell and (2) they need to support the second-hand value of their cars to reduce the yearly cost of ownership for people who buy new and sell after a few years.

about 2 years ago

Helen Jackson

Helen Jackson, Marketing at Money4YourMotors.com

Their 'meet our drivers' section is fantastic. For potential customers to be able to see how a car performs for the average person is a great idea! It would definitely help persuade me to at least test driving one.

www.money4yourmotors.com

5 months ago

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