When the digital age dawned for boat dealers and brokers, the way they had traditionally got enquiries dramatically changed. With the shift towards everything being available at the click of a button, those that made the change thrived, and those that didn’t got left behind.
Here at Spidersnet, we’ve been helping dealers and brokers stay ahead for over 20 years. It’s safe to say that we know a thing or two about keeping you ahead of the competition so we’ve put together a handy little guide to help get you in front of an online audience in 2018.

1. Invest in what you need
Your website is your virtual shop window and often the very first impression a potential customer will get of your business and professionalism. Even in this day in age, it’s surprising to still come across websites that aren’t mobile or tablet friendly. Not surprising that 60% of customers would abandon a search because it’s not responsive. To get the most from your website, you need to invest time or money, or both, into it. Your site should be up to date, mobile & tablet friendly and full of useful content.

2. Mass broadcast your stock
It’s important that your stock is listed in more than one place. Boat searches take place every minute on various different sites, so make sure your stock is one of their options.

3. Take time to ask for reviews
Buying a boat is a big purchasing decision so buyers will be researching well. Having positive reviews about your previous customers experience will reassure potential customers that they are buying from a reputable source. Take the time to ask for reviews from your satisfied customers and you’ll reap the benefits further down the line.

4. Google is your friend
In order for your website to start appearing naturally within Google’s listings, you have to adhere to best Google practice which includes strong meta-data which tells Google what your page is about. Not an expert? It can be a daunting prospect if you’re not familiar with the processes so we recommend you seek expert advice.
Also, take the time to set up a ‘Google My Business’ listing too. It will encourage users to visit your website and the best part is, it’s free!

5. Make customers for life
While a buyer may only be in the market for a new boat every few years, make sure it’s you that they come back to when they are. If their experience was a positive one, keep in touch with them.
Keep an email database of previous customers so you can provide a great post sale customer service. Sending them information on ‘how to maintain their boat,’ ‘best places to sail,’ or even advice on insuring their boat is all useful information which will keep your business in the forefront of their mind when next making a purchase or recommendation.
Similarly, build an email database of your potential customers so you can contact them with stock updates, testimonials and special offers.

6. First impressions count
90% of buyers will research online as a starting point. Make sure the pages of your website load quickly, are easy to navigate and adjust to the device the user is searching on.
Remember that content on your website is equally important. Ensure all pictures are good quality and the supporting information tells the buyer everything they would need to know to make an informed purchasing decision.

7. Accept that your customers will shop around
The internet allows customers to research and compare prices quicker and easier than ever before, so it’s wise to assume that buyers will do research on competitors in your area. To make sure you’re not ‘pricing yourself out of the market,’ it’s good practice to look into your competitors and ensure you’re selling your boat at a reasonable price.
If you are priced slightly higher than the competition, point 8 gives you some insight into how you could justify this.

8. What’s your Unique Selling Point?
Every business has something that sets themselves apart from their competitors and a clever business will use this in their marketing to encourage customers to buy from them. If you don’t know what your USP is, take some time to think about what makes you stand out from the crowd. Have you been established for a long time? Do you have a high Trustpilot score? How long is your warranty?
When you have established what your USP is, proudly show it off on your website, brochures, business cards and inside your premises.

9. Become the customer
A great way to measure the journey that a buyer may take to find their desired purchase is to perform the search yourself. In a new incognito window in your browser, type in something that you have in stock and see what the results come up with. If your competitors are ahead of you, seek expert advice to get help on what you could be doing better.

10. Don’t forget to be seen offline too
While being seen by an online audience is vital, it might also be worth exploring traditional methods of advertising. Understanding the demographics of your audience and where they might be is important.
As a boat dealer or broker, your target audience is likely to be male, college educated and with a high disposable income. Think about local newspapers and publications that they might be reading or even events they may be attending which you could sponsor.