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Lapsed boaters key element in lead conversion, sales study

By Tim Hennagir

Lapsed boaters - individuals who have left the water or the boating lifestyle - represent a critical recapture segment within the industry’s online marketplace.

An in-depth analysis of U.S. sales leads on three Boats Group sites conducted earlier this spring by Info-Link Technologies, Inc. continues to provide additional consumer data for this key sector.

The firm evaluated more than 2.68 million unique consumer households across Boats Group’s portals between October 2013 and September 2017.

Over the last five years, new boat sales have been steadily increasing coinciding with the economic recovery. This is reflected both in the marketplace and among YachtWorld, Boat Trader and boats.com. portal users.

“Sixteen percent of our users are actually lapsed boaters, people who are defined as previously owning a boat and have not owned a boat in the past year,” said Boats Group CEO Sam Fulton, who recently spoke with Boating Industry to provide wrap-up analysis of the Info­-Link study.

“What we’ve seen from the information that’s coming from our portals is that they are pretty successful in bringing lapsed boaters back into the industry,” Fulton said. “Our conversion rate is 26 percent. With regards to lapsed boaters, we’ve looked at our customer relationship programs to see if we are addressing the right segment.”

People lapse for any number of reasons; they may have had an employment relocation or started a family and haven’t returned to boating, said Peter Houseworth, director of client services at Info-Link.

“The thing that surprised me was that the Boats Group data had three components,” Houseworth said. “There’s first-time boaters, people who already own, and people who have owned boats in the past. We are seeing people who are engaging at different levels, but the common factor for all three of these groups is that they landed in some type of strong consideration set.”

From an industry standpoint, the Boats Group data on lapsed boaters represents a nexus, Houseworth said.

“We are trying to get people who are engaged and move them through the purchasing funnel,” he said. “There are approximately 8.5 million boating households. When people start looking at other types of boats, or a different size boat, that’s a big flag that says someone is engaged in a shopping process. And when you look at high-value or significant purchases, which includes a number of boats, the conversion percentage is much higher, about 35 percent, for people who already own boats.”

Regarding one of the industry’s fastest growing segments, Houseworth reported that more than 50 percent of people who purchased saltwater fishing boats visited a Boats Group site before buying.

“That’s an incredible conversion rate ,” he said. “There are so many channels to receive and publish information, whether its off of a website or organic, and people are landing on a single site.”

Fulton also provided an update on Boats Group’s BoatWizard mobile app. “The last time we talked, about 25 percent of our customer base had downloaded the app,” he said. “We are now up to 40 percent of our customer base.”

While downloads are not the company’s main focus, the BoatWizard app now has more than 1,800 active users, Fulton said.

“That’s a number we continued to build on each and every day. We are happy with our 4.3 App Store rating, and ultimately, our goal is always creating a five-star app.”

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