Three keys to winning with your dealership website

Is your website equipped to win in 2019? Before answering, there are three key areas that must be considered.

First, is your website up to today’s technological standards? Being mobile friendly and fast loading are the two most important.

With more and more boat shopping being done on mobile devices and Google’s penalty for slow and/or non-mobile friendly websites, this can be a major hurdle to winning with your website.

Google offers a few tools to check both your website’s page speed and mobile friendliness.

Second, is your website receiving quality visitors? You can’t answer that question unless you know how many people have visited your website. If you don’t know that number, it is an important one and you must have tracking on your website like Google Analytics.

These analytics will tell you how much traffic is getting to your website, where it’s coming from, what pages they are viewing and which search terms are leading them to your site.

If you are 100 percent satisfied with the traffic you are getting, jump ahead to No. 3.

If your site is not generating the traffic it should be, investing in quality SEO (search engine optimization) and/or a proven paid ads (Google Ads, Facebook, etc.) strategy is a logical next step.

Before you begin, whether with your in-house marketing expert or if you hire a vendor, it’s important they know the strategic goals of your dealership, understand the educational spectrum of a boat buyer and utilize strategies and techniques that will generate the right traffic to your website. Missing any of these can be costly.

Here’s an example of a costly mistake we came across while working with a client that offered premium level brands and had a strategy to be a premium level dealership competing on service and long-term relationships.

They had invested in an expensive SEO package from an industry vendor. Over time, they saw their website traffic trend upward and were initially happy with the results.

As we began to work together on building their SPLASH System, we discovered most of the increased traffic came from searches around the term ‘cheap used boat’. Although traffic was up, the traffic turned out to be of low quality as it related to their strategic goals and much opportunity was lost. So beware of mismatches in your goals and the implementation.

A best practice is to be very involved in the planning stages to ensure everything is leading your dealership in the direction you want it to go.

Now that your website is technically sound and you are receiving a steady flow of quality traffic, let’s move to the most exciting opportunity.

Finally, are the visitors to your website being moved closer to buying a boat from you? Moving closer to buying a boat from you could mean they fill out a form and give you their contact information. It could mean they call or even visit the dealership.

And most importantly, it means that the right prospects for the type of boats you offer are being persuaded that buying a boat from your dealership is the best possible decision they can make.

This persuasion element is one of the most missed opportunities on boat dealer websites and in their listings during our mystery shopping.

To dive deeper into this topic, visit for part two of this column. Part two includes a deeper dive into crafting the perfect message to provide to customers on your dealership’s website, as well as an additional challenge for your dealership to try.

This month’s challenge: Run a speed test on your website to ensure it is performing within an acceptable range. Then, review your analytics for the past 12 months and determine if you are happy with the results.   

Matt Sellhorst is the founder of Boat Dealer Profits Marketing Agency and author of the only business building book for the retail boating industry, “Boat Dealer Profits; How the SPLASH System can help you sell more boats, make more money and have more fun.” Claim your free copy at 


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