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How Content Marketing Fueled the Volkswagen Recovery after Dieselgate

Just over a year ago, the EPA blew the lid wide open on the Volkswagen scandal when they discovered that the German automaker was programming diesel engines to alter auto emissions when being tested. Once the story broke, the consequences were far-reaching. 11 million vehicles were recalled, VW’s reputation was tarnished, their sales plummeted, and their stock hit bottom. Not to mention it cost the company more than $20 billion worldwide in compensatory damages. It was a PR nightmare that could have put the automaker under for good.

Like most bedrock corporations, VW found a way to bounce back in a seemingly short period. No, they’re not out of the woods yet, especially not with a 2017 sales ban in the U.S. They are, however, hitting the pavement with an aggressive campaign starting with online content marketing. Below are five Internet strategies that Volkswagen is currently putting into play to polish its image and boost its sales.

The Apology

Volkswagen’s top-tier management has already given several public apologies in press releases around the globe. And just to let you know that they’re serious, they posted a detailed step-by-step TDI settlement program for VW drivers on their Official Site atop the home page. The program includes relevant content, how-to videos, diagrams, downloadable documents, FAQ’s and more. In fact, it’s so comprehensive that any VW driver should have no trouble navigating the site.

The Home Page

The opening line on the VW webpage, “Soon To Be Everywhere,” reads like a subliminal proclamation: “We’re Not Going Anywhere!”  From there, the SEO-rich marketing campaign is packed with keywords, visual tools, and a clean, user-friendly format. Highlights include customized auto builder, state-of-the-art collision warning systems, safety features, cool new gadgets, recent awards and accomplishments, and special offers—everything a home page needs to draw visitors in and hold their attention.

The Newsroom

What immediately stands out about the Newsroom is that it gives the impression that Volkswagen is everywhere. Recent stories include the VW Sunshine Tour, the upcoming online magazine, breast cancer support, local business involvement, winning international rallies, and, apparently, championing Pro USA Cycling. They’re also creating community by including in-depth features on VW owners. And for the enthusiasts, there’s a weekly Throwback Thursday segment on rare vintage models.

The Magazine

If that’s not enough, Volkswagen has recently introduced a quarterly magazine hot off the press that will be delivered straight to VW drivers via email. How does this form of web content distinguish itself? It’s owner-focused. Articles will cover topics such as coverage of new products, fun events, expert advice, the latest owner benefits, auto shows, and product spotlights. It will feature dynamic photos and media, and it will be available on your smartphone.

The Advocate

Here’s a lesson in the power of employee advocacy: Charles Sanville, a.k.a. The Humble Mechanic, is a Master Certified Volkswagen technician who delivers a monthly webcast on all things Das Auto. Check out his website at humblemechanic.com. Or you can go to his YouTube page. His digits include 13,000+ Facebook followers and 71,000+ YouTube subscribers, and he recently made the top 100 top bloggers list on Feedspot. His videos are exemplary: funny, informative, down to earth, simple, and competent. He’s shot more than 160 videos with an average of 3-5k views per episode. Promo doesn’t get any better than that.

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