Thrive Creative Labs

How to Keep Owners Engaged with Your Boating Brand – and Make that Next Sale

January 28, 2019

Your marketing efforts paid off, your sales team closed the deal and you have another happy customer towing a shiny new boat off your lot. Congratulations.

But your work with this customer isn’t done.

You need to continue to engage this owner so he remains committed to your brand. And that engagement starts now while his excitement about his status as a boat owner is at its peak.

Why Should You Engage Your Existing Boat Owners?

First, they’re your brand’s best salespeople. When they take friends and family out on the water, they’re basically live-demoing your product to future buyers. We marketers call that social proof — it’s a human tendency to look to others for approval before we make a choice. Second, its likely that these owners will at some point want to upgrade, and they’re more likely to stay with your brand if they feel engaged. Third, boating is not a solo activity; it’s social and community-oriented. Helping owners find other owners, organizing events and networking them on social media all create community.

Essential Owner-Specific Content for Your Boating Website

Many boating company websites focus their communication almost entirely on driving sales with new prospects and don’t dedicate enough digital real estate and content to existing owners. From a marketing perspective, we think that’s a miss. We advise our boating industry clients to cater to owners by providing access to ongoing blog content, events, FAQs, owners’ manuals and the like.

Not only do these types of content address owners’ needs, but they cut down customer service calls that might bog down your small internal team. They drive incremental sales of replacement parts and add-on gear. And they let prospective buyers know that they’ll be fully taken care of after they’ve purchased a boat from you.

Let’s look at what we consider the essential owner-facing elements of your boating brand’s website:

FAQs for owners. Even veteran mariners will have questions about how to maintain their craft. Help owners extend the life of their boat by proactively giving them information. Consider the most common questions you hear during the sales process or field in follow-up calls, such as: How do I winterize my boat? What monthly maintenance tasks should I be doing? How do I order touch-up paint? Gather those on an FAQ page. Need an example? The Crestliner brand does a great job with FAQs. And this type of static content is good for search engine optimization and relatively easy to compile and build.

Helpful references. These include PDFs of your owners’ manuals (which always somehow go missing in the garage), your dealer/service network, customer service contact information, product warranty documents, recommended props and more.

An owners community page. Boaters want to feel part of a family that’s connected by their common affinity for a particular brand, model or boat type. Creating a section on your website that spotlights owners is a great way to build community — and also to present stories that convince prospects that your brand is a great choice. We built this feature into the website for our client Beavertail Skiffs, and to date there are more than two dozen great profiles of owners who rave about the Beavertail brand.

Owner testimonials. Shortly after an owner has taken delivery, ask for a written testimonial that you can share. This ask will be much easier if you’re providing them with good follow-up customer service. Use these testimonials for your homepage, your community page and social media marketing.

Articles about the boating lifestyle. A section of dynamic content, such as a blog that’s updated weekly, may be the most effective way to engage owners. Use photos, videos and stories about the great events you host for owners, your brand ambassadors, video demos and more. Repurpose this content in your social media channels and your email marketing.

In addition to this targeted website content, you should maintain an email list of existing owners and develop a monthly newsletter campaign that keeps your brand top of mind and offers helpful information. (This list should be separate from your prospect list so you can speak to owners specifically.) You might include a monthly maintenance tip, a featured owner, an events calendar and other content of interest for owners.

Don’t just make the sale, watch those happy new owners cruise off into the sunset and never talk with them again. Instead, set them up to have a great experience over the lifespan of their relationship with your product and hook them as repeat buyers in the future.

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