If you’re reading this, it’s pretty safe to say that you have an interest in increasing the value of your marine brand and its marketing strategy. Whether you’re the president of the company, the marketing director or both, building your brand and increasing the sales of your boats are certainly among your top goals.
Among some of the key components that make up your marketing arsenal are surely elements such as your logo, brand guides, marketing collateral, social media and website right? Not to say those are the only things you should have….but these are must-haves!
And quite arguably, out of all of the individual pieces that make up your marketing strategy – your website is the most important. Bar none.
Your website is where all of your other marketing efforts should be leading prospects and customers (future, present and past). It’s the one place (besides in-person site visits or events) where you have a totally captive audience and can tell your brand’s complete story. Your website simply CAN provide visitors with opportunity to truly experience your brand. It’s up to you (and your marine marketing agency) to shape that experience.
A website for a boat brand isn’t like other types of websites. You have unique products to showcase, a narrow demographic you’re targeting and a lifestyle to promote. And it’s quite possible to have a website that does all of this and more.
Here is the short-list of a few of key elements your boat brand’s website must include:
1. Brand Cohesiveness: Your Website’s Design Must Support Your Overall Brand
The internet is the most direct source potential clients have for finding your boat brand and what they see often determines if they will engage with your site or not. One of the essentials is that your online brand must be cohesive with all of your other marketing materials including: printed collateral, ad campaigns and social media.
When a prospect becomes familiar with your brand, it is typically the visuals that make you identifiable to them…your logo, the consistent colors you use, a slogan or simply the unique look of your product line itself. As humans, we become familiar with brands we’re routinely exposed to and that can help reduce chances of confusing your Brand from another’s. Your website must be an extension of this, be immediately recognizable and put new visitors at-ease.
2. The Lifestyle: Your Website Must Promote the Boating Lifestyle
When considering the imagery, design and content of your site it’s critical to not just showcase your products but to include a heavy dose of the boating lifestyle. Enthusiasts don’t purchase without considering what their lifestyle will look like in your watercraft.
Unfortunately for a lot of boat manufacturers…they don’t include nearly enough lifestyle photos, video and content. Instead, their websites are full of photos of boats on trailers, empty boats in the water and renderings…not much else. The reality is this just isn’t going to get customers excited about their purchase or the brand.
Sites which have made showcasing the boating lifestyle a priority will reap the benefits by getting their customers to envision themselves in the place of the folks in your site’s photos and video and will want that feeling for themselves.
3. Tell Your Story: Your Website Should Tell Your Brand’s Story
You have a story and your customers want to hear it. Believe it or not, they care about how your boats got started, what’s the heritage surrounding the company and why your products are the best of their kind. Your website is the perfect place to tell that story.
With modern technology, the ease of creating authentic video content, shooting quality photography and including that media in your website isn’t costly. And having a compelling story behind your boat company, sharing within the context of your website can easily set you and your legacy apart from your competitors.
4. Include Video Content: Your Website HAS to Include Video, It Just Does
It’s not optional. Your boat company’s website has to include video content in the design and pages of your site in a big way.
Today, when I surf to a boat manufacturers website (or just about any type of outdoor gear for that matter) and the home page is devoid of video…I just feel kinda let down. It’s something I’ve come to expect and look forward to. And what better way to get a feel for the product line and the brand’s lifestyle than a larger than life video showcasing it all.
If the home page of your current site doesn’t leverage video content, it must at least be available at the individual product level. Prospects want to see your machines in action and here’s your opportunity to let them experience that part of your story over and over…with the ability to share with their friends or on social media. Video is a game changer.
5. Calls to Action: Your Website has to Include the Right CTAs at the Right Time
I have analyzed and audited well over 100 boat manufacturer websites from just about every conceivable category. And one of the main infractions I see in the design and architecture of boat websites is a lack of logical calls-to-action. They’re either far and few between or simply asking for the wrong things at the wrong times.
It’s important to understand the flow of users through your website and present them with logical CTAs and conversion points at the right stage. Strategically located “request information” buttons, CTAs to locate a dealer right next to the boat model and so on.
User’s must follow a specific flow, that you plan for them with intent. And that is the intent to lead them from your home page, to your product line, to your conversion points (with maybe a planned few pit stops in between).
The right flow, a flow with intent… can absolutely change the conversion rate of your website.
These 5 Tips Are Just the Start…
Implementing these five tips will improve just about any boat manufacturer’s website, however there’s more. Having a comprehensive audit performed on your website and then making adjustments accordingly can have a major impact on the benefits you receive from it.
At Thrive, we’ve developed a proven formula along with benchmarks to measure your website against. We’ll identify and help you understand exactly what is working and more importantly what isn’t and then create a roadmap for improvement. We’ll help create more value in your website investment.