As the pandemic forced car dealerships to close during 2020, Mazda’s web platform became its central hub for customer engagement and lead conversion. The brand needed to increase the quality of its online customer experience, implement seamless, research-informed user journeys and optimise appointment sign-ups. Introducing more interactive, brand-building content whilst capturing customer data increased brand loyalty.

The improved online customer experience translated into a 46% increase in test drive bookings during lockdown and then a 40% boost in test drives when dealerships reopened.

Objectives & Aims

Car brands are dependent on test drives and the relationship between local dealers and the customer to convert sales. 2020’s covid-19 related restrictions in the UK meant that building online customer engagement would be critical for success across the industry. This represented a shift for Mazda, which had historically thrived offline.

The duration of the lockdowns, their impact on customer behaviour and the economy were unknown variables. However, Mazda needed to remain front of mind for customers until they were able to take real-world actions again, whenever that might be.

Candyspace’s three objectives were to:

  • Implement seamless, research-informed user journeys, optimise sign-ups and increase on-site engagement
  • Improve content and reorder modules to highlight the most engaging content
  • Maximise site performance and reduce any drop-off.

Success would be measured not by the usual test drive booking numbers, but by how many customers used the ‘find a dealer’ tool, completed the ‘finance calculator’ to work out the affordability of their future purchase and filled in ‘keep me informed’ forms with their contact details. These actions would line up potential car buyers after lockdown.

Implementation, Execution & Tactics

Usability testing with Mazda owners and prospects highlighted where user journeys could be improved and content creation could be more focused. For example, the research confirmed that drop off occurred on pages with long form content. To address this, the team focussed on regularly refreshing engaging, brand-building content rather than the traditional conversion points of booking test drives and services. 

The online customer journey was adapted to push users into the virtual showroom. Messaging changed from ‘Book now’ to ‘Keep me informed’ or ‘Pre-order’ throughout the site to ensure no lead was lost.

In addition, content modules highlighted Mazda’s 360 degree image galleries which gave customers interactive views of each car model. Ten models were included with individual detail and facts to encourage longer dwell times. User time on these pages increased threefold, compared to the site average.

Mazda also emphasised its heritage and experience with new, 100th anniversary pages which also increased brand engagement and site dwell time. These pages proved most popular with the 25-34 year age group, helping build loyalty amongst the brand’s younger customer base.

Reacting to changing customer behaviour by regularly updating content and imagery – for example with new anniversary content or an interactive car tour – helped keep the site fresh and encouraged repeat visitors.


From January 2020 (pre-lockdown) to December 2020 there was a:

  • 35% increase in customers completing the ‘find a dealer’ locator
  • 55% increase in finance calculator completions
  • 36% reduction in bounce rate
  • 28.6% increase in unique page views
  • 30% decrease in page load time, meaning that site performance was significantly improved.

Overall, the prevalence of returning users to the homepage (up by 13.8%) and the increased session duration of 5.4% showed that visitors were engaged with the content and found the information they were looking for, while unable to visit showrooms across the country.

These online KPIs led to a strong business outcome:

  • 46% increase in completion of ‘book a test drive’ forms in June-August in 2020, compared to the same period in 2019
  • Over 40% increase in test drives after each lockdown.