What have we learned?


Jarrett Ernst, Web Performance Coach, ARI
December 11, 2012
Filed under Guest Blog

As a better year in business is drawing to a close, it’s time to celebrate accomplishments but also take an honest look at what we can do better. When it comes to website content management, marine dealers have certainly come a long way. Here is what I took a note of in 2012 – and hope will help you – as I work with dealers on a daily basis to help them make their website the sales-driving tool it should be.

The bad: Many of the dealers I work with are still not dedicating enough time to the “care and feeding” of their website. I know you’re busy, but to get the most out of the initial investment that you’ve made in a website, you need to keep it up-to-date with fresh content, pricing, service menus, awards, events, etc. Your website should be viewed as the first stop before coming to your brick-and-mortar dealership. Make sure you put your best face forward.

The good – Over the last year, I’ve seen a lot more dealers make significant progress, successfully embracing best practices that help them sell more boats and related services. Here are just a few of them:

  • Supplementing pictures with videos. Put simply, used boats with just photos sit in inventory longer than boats with pictures and videos. One of the dealers I work with told me that they made a sale within two hours of posting a video – You can’t beat that for results.
  • Leveraging high-traffic, social networking sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, to reinforce dealership benefits and communicate with prospects and customers.
  • Updating inventory, as soon as it becomes available or is sold, shows visitors what you have and that there is movement. It also encourages consumers to act now, rather than risk having their dream boat be gone when they do respond. One of the dealers I’ve talked to updates his inventory twice a day!
  • Monitoring analytics to see what works, what doesn’t, and making the changes needed to improve.
  • Using marine classified websites, such as YachtWorld.com, Boats.com, YachtMarket.com and iBoats.com, to get your dealership in front of the largest possible number of potential, targeted buyers.
  • Staying in touch with customers and prospects to build and nurture personal relationships. Many of the dealers I talk to send out monthly email campaigns to promote department specials and events.

Today’s technology-based solutions automate critical tasks to make it very easy for you to update and maintain your website, but you still have to get organized and make time to do it. Make 2013 the year that you turn your website into the powerful, profit-building tool it can be. The first step toward accomplishing that is to put someone at your dealership in charge of managing your website content.

Jarrett Ernst is Web Performance Coach at ARI, a leading provider of technology-enabled business solutions for dealers, distributors and manufacturers in the marine, RV, powersports and outdoor power equipment industries. Products and services include eCommerce-enabled websites, lead generation, lead management, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, and eCatalogs (parts, garments, and accessories).
Contact: Ernst@arinet.com
Website: www.arinet.com


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