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Websites, boat shows top marketing tactics

By Jonathan Sweet

New research shows blending of new and traditional

Companies in the marine industry are increasing their digital marketing, but still rely on more traditional methods as well.

P16x17-BI14MAR-MonthlyResearch.inddThat’s according to the latest monthly survey of Boating Industry readers, which focused on marketing. We surveyed dealers, manufacturers, suppliers and others in January to find out about their marketing efforts and how they expect them to change this year.

We also asked respondents to identify their primary business. For simplicity’s sake in this article we’ve divided them into two groups of “dealers” (boat and engine dealers, marinas, boatyards and other retailers) and “manufacturers” (manufacturers, suppliers, service providers, distributors, etc.).

Websites, boat shows top list

More than eight in 10 respondents reported using a company website for marketing their business in 2013.

That was easily the most popular way to market last year, according to this month’s survey. It was also ranked as the most useful marketing tool, cited by nearly 25 percent as the most useful in 2013. That was one area where dealers and manufacturers differed, though. Among those retailers, 29 percent cited a company website as the most important tool, compared with only 18 percent of manufacturers.

Overall, boat shows and email marketing also scored well. Sixty-four percent of respondents participated in boat shows in 2013 and 61 percent reported using email marketing. Facebook (at 55 percent) and print advertising (50 percent) were the only other marketing methods used by at least half of respondents.

(Click image to view larger)

(Click image to view larger)

While Facebook continues to get the bulk of attention from marketers in the marine (and other) industries, other social media sites were not as popular: only 16 percent reported using outlets such as Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube.

When it comes to effectiveness, 19 percent cited boat shows as their most effective form of marketing in 2013. That was second only to the 25 percent listing the company website.

Website advertising (14 percent) and email marketing (12 percent) were the only other two to be identified by more than 10 percent as their most effective tactic. Website advertising is particularly interesting, as only 44 percent reported using it in 2013. That means nearly a third of those who did buy website advertising last year found it to be their most effective tactic.

Of the other marketing methods, 8 percent said events were their most effective, while no other one topped 5 percent.

(Click image to view larger)

(Click image to view larger)


Going digital

Most companies expect to put a lot more emphasis on their digital marketing in 2014, whether it be through their own website, social media outlets or email marketing.

Although its already the top marketing method, 61 percent of respondents plan to put more attention on their website this year. Only 1 percent expect it to be less important to their company’s marketing efforts. Fifty-seven percent plan to use email marketing more this year and 55 percent expect to spend more on internet advertising.

(Click image to view larger)

(Click image to view larger)

Social media will also get more attention, with 54 percent saying Facebook will be more important to their marketing in 2014. Twenty-four percent identified other social media sites such as Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube as areas with increased emphasis.

That’s not to say traditional methods are going away: 38 percent plan to hold more events in 2014. Direct mail (23 percent) and boat shows (20 percent) are also in line for more spending.

Overall, most companies expect to increase or hold their marketing budget steady this year. Thirty-five percent are planning on spending more on marketing, with only 10 percent expecting to decrease spending. Fifty-five percent plan on it being unchanged.


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