By Ezequiel Arredondo
In the past, digital marketing has been viewed as an optional investment for dealers—a means to pull in extra sales leads to supplement the number of customers who are browsing on the dealership’s lot—but now that the internet has become the central source for researching boats, parts and marine services, digital marketing is a must. Dealer Spike offers insight into the key digital marketing tools that marine dealers should focus on when creating their strategy.
The steady shift from in-store shopping to e-commerce that we’ve been experiencing over the last several years was suddenly fast-tracked by the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a permanent change in the way marine customers shop. Following the pandemic outbreak, marine dealers are receiving increased levels of website traffic because more customers than ever are browsing and purchasing online. Dealerships who have already established a strong online marketing strategy have the reach and resources to connect with the high volume of online shoppers and increase sales leads. If you aren’t already advertising online, don’t worry—Dealer Spike has outlined the following core digital tools that can help you build your online presence quickly and communicate the value of your dealership to your future customers:
Targeted Paid Search Ads
Paid search ads drive more shoppers from search engines to your website by featuring your advertised units and services in the top slots of search results. By targeting your paid ads at shoppers who have browsed similar content on competing dealership websites, you’re ensuring that your marketing dollars are funneled toward enthusiastic marine customers, who are much more likely to make a purchase in the near future.
A good rule of thumb for any marketing campaign is to align your message with current events to demonstrate that you’re paying attention to your audience’s reality. Since the pandemic, online searches including “at home,” “contactless,” “delivery” and similar keywords have spiked. By incorporating these and other popular keywords into your paid search ads, you’re increasing the number of online users who will see your ads in their search results, while at the same time communicating to shoppers that you understand their needs.
Social Media Marketing
Younger generations of marine enthusiasts have a high preference for social media as a search resource and a means to interact with brands. Dealers who want to establish a successful digital marketing strategy should maintain an active social media presence that reflects their unique brand “voice,” as this will allow them to connect with online shoppers on a real-time basis and can drive more traffic to their websites. Furthermore, consumers who connect personally with a brand have a much higher tendency to become loyal customers.
YouTube is among the topmost heavily trafficked platforms, earning its reputation as “Google’s other search engine” due to 55% of online dealership customers using videos to browse for units, as reported by Google. Videos are especially popular among first-time buyers, who leverage “how-to” videos to become familiar with boating and learn the ins and outs of the buying/financing process. Engage more shoppers on YouTube by creating and posting videos that showcase your inventory, compare the merits of different boat models and notify your customers about what they can expect when they visit your dealership.
Online search has become the main avenue for marine customers to research their next purchase and contact the dealerships that catch their interest. Dealers need to invest in a modern digital marketing strategy in order to continue interacting with new leads. The sooner you launch your campaign, the faster you will start seeing increased traffic to your website and social media pages—not to mention a healthy ROI on your marketing efforts!
Ezequiel Arredondo is the vice president of operations for Dealer Spike.