Digital marketing gains ground

Many companies still rely on traditional methods

While marine industry companies have embraced digital marketing, especially social media as a prime part of their marketing, they aren’t abandoning the tried-and-true.

p18x19-BI15MAR-Research.inddThat’s according to the latest survey of Boating Industry readers, conducted in January 2015. We surveyed dealers, manufacturers and others in the industry in January about how they marketed in 2014 and their plans for marketing in 2015.

The most immediately identifiable trend is that readers spent more effort and money on almost every type of marketing in 2014 than they did in 2013.

In fact, there was only one category – the Yellow Pages – that fewer respondents reported using in 2014. Only 18 percent of readers said they marketed through the Yellow Pages last year, down from 22 percent. Direct mail was flat at 33 percent from year to year, but every other category was up.

Social media surge

Facebook saw the biggest jump in use in 2014, with 72 percent of readers reporting they used it in their marketing, up from 55 percent in 2013. Eight percent of readers said it was their most effective marketing tactic last year, doubling 2013’s 4 percent.

Other social media sites gained as well: 27 percent said they used video site YouTube to market their business in 2014, up from 19 percent. Twitter was used by 24 percent of businesses, up from 16 percent, and Pinterest increased from 6 to 10 percent last year. Instagram, which we didn’t ask about in 2013, was used by 14 percent of readers in 2014.

Only 2 percent, though, cited any of those sites as their most useful marketing method in 2014, ahead of only the Yellow Pages and billboards in our survey.

Despite the increase in social media use, a significant number of readers are planning to ramp it up even more in 2015. Most notably, 55 percent said they plan to use Facebook more this year and nearly half of respondents are planning to increase their YouTube marketing.

(Source: Boating Industry survey, January 2015)
(Source: Boating Industry survey, January 2015)

Some 40 percent are planning to increase their use of Instagram, while about a third of readers plan to use Twitter more. Pinterest, on the other hand, seems to be waning in popularity for the industry, as only 26 percent plan to use it more – just ahead of the 23 percent who plan to use it less in 2015.

Websites, boat shows still top the rankings

(Sources: Boating Industry surveys, January 2014 and January 2015)
(Sources: Boating Industry surveys, January 2014 and January 2015)

One trend that didn’t change from last year is the importance of company websites and boat shows. Those two still topped the list of most used – and most useful – marketing tactics for the year.

Eighty-five percent of readers used a company website as part of their marketing and 73 percent reported participating in boat shows. Both easily topped the list of most successful tactics as well, with 27 percent citing websites and 21 percent boat shows. That placed them well ahead of web marketing and email marketing, both cited by 12 percent as the most useful in 2014 and the only other methods to top 10 percent.

Reflecting the increased focus on digital, 60 percent of readers said they plan to use their website for marketing more this year. That was second only to the 67 percent that plan to use email marketing more in 2015.

Only 26 percent plan to increase their investment in boat shows this year, while 16 percent intend to decrease it. But they’re not abandoning in-person events: 51 percent plan to use their own hosted events more this year.

Overall, readers are planning on increasing many of their marketing efforts this year, but aren’t going to spend much more to do it. Just less than half of readers plan on a flat marketing budget for the year, while 39 percent are increasing their spend and 12 percent are decreasing it.

p18x19-BI15MAR-Research.inddThere were only four categories where more respondents said they plan to spend less in 2015 than they did in 2014, lead by the Yellow Pages, with 52 percent decreasing their use of the book and only 1 percent increasing it. Billboards aren’t faring much better, with 43 percent decreasing their use in 2015 and 5 percent increasing it. Television and radio advertising (39 percent decreasing vs. 9 percent increasing) and print advertising (34 percent decreasing vs. 13 percent increasing) rounded out the list.






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