The digital marketing strategy every dealer, broker and manufacturer should be using in 2018

Have you ever been on the Internet and noticed ads following you around everywhere you go? Then, you remember you’d been searching for that exact thing or visited that company’s website. It happens virtually every day.

What is it, you ask?

The technical term is re-targeting (Facebook/Instagram) and re-marketing (Google Display Network).

Imagine someone visits your website and views your inventory or build a boat page. What assumptions can you make about that person? The main assumption is they are likely researching the purchase of a boat.

When set up properly you can create an ad that follows that person/device around the Internet for a period of time. Now, imagine if you could say that you only want to show that person/device this ad if they are in certain geographic areas, earn a certain level of income and meet other criteria.

That’s exactly what Facebook re-targeting allows you to do.

You can also upload segments of your database (clients and prospects emails) and ask Facebook to go find more people who ‘look like’ your current clients. Then, you can show them ads as they scroll through their Facebook.

The Google Display Network re-marketing works similarly, but has some differences. One major difference is the accuracy and ability to narrow by income levels. It does, however, have one major benefit over Facebook; the Google Display Network reaches over 90 percent of the Internet, so you know you’ll reach those you’re re-targeting on a more frequent basis.

Now imagine when someone visits your website, you have their email address or they look like those targets, you can show them a digital billboard as they bounce around the Internet. You’re consistently in front of highly targeted prospects with a powerful message.  

You’ve narrowed down your audience to just those most likely to buy a boat. So, instead of paying to show your digital billboard to hundreds or thousands of people, you are only focused on a few hundred or few thousand of the most qualified.  

With digital marketing, it can be easy to set up. However, it’s the nuances of a campaign like this that will make or break the success. And, with improper set up, there can be a lot of money wasted and huge opportunity lost.

If you decide to tackle this on your own, here are the five steps you need to take:

1. Add the Facebook Pixel and Google Tracking Code to your website (Not sure if it’s on your site already? Email me your web address and we’ll check it for you). You are not able to track any visitors until these pieces of code are installed on your website properly. This is critical; any quality marketing agency will have this installed on your website on day one when you begin working with them.

2. Create a ‘Custom Audience’ in Facebook that includes your current clients and high value prospects. If you have the data, I’d suggest you segment by category (i.e. pontoons, saltwater fishing, wake boat). Another tip is to name your ‘Custom Audience’ list very specifically (i.e.  Matt’s Marine Pontoon Buyers 06.16.18).

3. Create your ad copy and graphics. Think what would be most compelling to folks who are interested in your type of boats. What would entice them to take the next step in the buying journey and click on your ad?

4. Set up your ad and ad budget. Let the ad run for three days without touching it. This will allow the artificial intelligence of Facebook and Google to help narrow in on your audience even more to deliver the best results. Our digital marketing agency has assisted clients with budgets as little as $250 per week during the selling season. You can get started with $100 to $250 per week and build out from there.

5. Adjust accordingly based on results of the initial test. Remember, just like all profitable marketing, this is a long-term strategy. It will build over time as you improve your message, your targeting and build the site visitors you track; you’re always serving ads to more highly targeted prospects. Don’t be cheap and don’t be impatient, yet monitor consistently. Digital marketing is ever changing and you must keep your eye on it to avoid unnecessary waste.

This month’s challenge: Confirm your Facebook pixel and Google tracking codes are installed properly on your website. Email if you’d like us to check it for free. If missing or installed incorrectly, get this updated ASAP!    

Matt Sellhorst is the creator of the SPLASH System and committed to helping honest and ethical boat dealers, manufacturers and brokers sell more boats, make more money and have more fun. He is the author of two industry books; “Boat Dealer Profits: How the SPLASH System can help you sell more boats, make more money and have more fun” and “Marine Marketing Strategies.” Sellhorst is also host of the Boat Dealer Profits Podcast and Boat Dealer Profits TV channel. For more articles, videos, webinars packed with tips, tricks and tactics visit 


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