2019 Best in Class: Best Digital Strategy & Website

Futrell Marine
Hot Springs, Ark.

With an ever-growing technology-driven and online world, it’s more important than ever for dealerships to maintain a strong digital market strategy and easy-to-use and up-to-date website.

On the heels of a recent award for Best New Idea for a virtual boat show, Futrell Marine continues to strive to offer customers the best possible experience in a digital world.

Aside from a multitude of other projects for 2018, owner Rick Kesterson and the Futrell Marine team put a large focus on the dealership’s digital footprint and outreach for the year.

“In 2018, Futrell Marine expanded its already robust marketing initiative,” Kesterson said. “CFO and marketing director Lance Miller further injected his knowledge of online tools.”

All digital aspects of the dealership from the website to social media and everything in between were looked at and revamped if necessary going into and throughout 2018.

On the website front, Miller worked with the online platform provider to build a new site essentially from the ground up. From a new home page to the integration of manufacturer information and other new interactive information tabs, the Futrell website underwent a complete overhaul.

By integrating new “Build a Boat” and “Facts” tabs on the redesigned website, Futrell offers amenities consumers originally had to go to manufacturer websites to access. Along with providing costumers with  highly visual and informative sections on the website, Kesterson said that the new pages significantly boost Futrell’s search engine optimization (SEO) in manufacturer-related fact-finding searches.

“The results were extraordinary and required several months to implement,” Kesterson said. “The new site went fully live in early 2018 and has been evolving ever since.”

In addition to the new sections, Futrell revamped every prior-existing section of its website to best tell the Futrell story and provide costumers with any information they might need or want.

“The new website effectively provides Futrell’s customers and prospects a thorough representation of its award-winning history, along with a descriptive and visual detail of the depth of its product offerings,” Kesterson said. “The site greatly enhances Futrell’s search engine optimization and provides yet another tool for both sales and service.”

In the digital world, Futrell didn’t stop at just revamping its website for 2018. The team also re-strategized on efforts to connect with prospects, current customers and beyond via email and social media platforms.

Using the dealership’s resources like prospect and customer data from its DMS and CRM, sales staff’s Outlook contacts and more, Miller worked to grow Futrell’s prospect and customer database, almost doubling its size from 2016 numbers.

Futrell’s digital team then used this database to craft new and improved, specific bi-monthly email marketing campaigns, which showed higher open rates than previously seen by the dealership.

“The platform and budding contact list enabled Futrell to touch customers not reached in the past,” Kesterson said. “For example, the ‘Sell Us Your Boat’ campaign added 11 quality used boats to Futrell’s inventory, along with six sellers converted to buyers.”

Social media use isn’t only unavoidable in today’s digital world, but can and should be used as one of your biggest digital marketing tools for success at your dealership. However, simply having accounts on the major platforms isn’t enough, dealerships must dive into each platform and its tools to decide which are the best suited for the dealership’s needs.

In 2018, Futrell Marine took a major look at all of its social media channels from Facebook to YouTube to really put these tools to proper use.

The dealership took to YouTube to provide prospects and customers in-depth looks into various boat models and even some accessory reviews and beyond.

“Futrell Marine’s YouTube Channel is a tool for educating and assisting customers in the decision-making process,” Kesterson said. “The goal of the YouTube channel is the creation of a video portfolio for each salesperson highlighting current year inventory.”

The marketing team went one step further than just posting video walkthrough videos to a channel, by organizing the channel into playlists separated by boat brand as well as different sales people on the team, making it easier for the customer to find exactly what they’re looking for.

In the realm of Facebook, Futrell dug deep into the tools offered by the platform’s ad manager to target specific buying demographics with regular posts. This made sure that the right brand or boat type was meeting the eyes of the correct prospect or customer.

The team at Futrell also launched a followers campaign to further grow the Futrell audience using targets within the regional boating market. The 2018 campaign helped lead the dealership to a 29% increase in followers.

From the dealership website to social media and everything in between, Futrell continues to elevate standards of what a boat dealership should be doing online in today’s digital world to stay relevant with its customers and prospects.

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