With new boat inventories at all-time lows, and demand at all-time highs, acquiring quality used units is more critical than ever. The challenge is, buying these boats at auction is no longer a great option with sky-high hammer prices. A better alternative to the auction is to acquire pre-owned boats directly from owners looking to sell. In this article, we will cover the key elements of a successful boat buying digital marketing campaign, and common pitfalls to avoid.


1)   Have a dedicated boat buying specialist on staff to handle the customers requesting a valuation on their boat.


The experience from a customer’s perspective is paramount to acquiring quality used boats. Having a dedicated boat buying specialist on staff ensures that the customer is speaking with someone who is knowledgeable about used boat valuations, and can give a cash offer quickly. Don’t make the mistake of sending these leads to traditional salespeople. Often a salesperson’s primary focus is on selling  a new boat, and not the acquisition of the customer’s boat regardless if they buy a new one from you or not. Lastly, be sure to structure the boat buying specialist’s compensation with your goal of acquiring quality boats. Alignment on that front is critical.


2)   Build a specific boat buying page on your website to educate customers on what they can expect in the valuation and offer process, and capture qualified leads for your buyers.


A primary reason owners sell their boats private party is they believe they will realize a higher sale price for their boat versus selling to a dealer. In most cases, there is some truth to this belief; you should leverage your dedicated boat buying page to showcase the value of selling their boat to your dealership. By highlighting benefits such as the quick and painless valuation and offer process, the simplicity of the transaction versus selling on their own, and your expert guidance through the process you can show the customer the added value by selling their boat to you. To the customer, your website is your digital storefront, make sure your first impression is a great one! There is no point spending money sending traffic to your website if you are not equipped to capture leads and act on them now.


3)   Don’t just target all boat owners, but owners of the specific types of boats you are looking to sell.


Targeting the correct boat owners from the start will save substantial time and frustration following up on “bad leads”. Additionally, this will help you avoid wasting the customer’s time going through the valuation process just to find out you don’t want to buy their 1995 aluminum fishing boat.


Pro Tip: Leverage your 1st party data to buy-back quality pre-owned boats you sold to customers. Not only will you know exactly the boat they currently own, but chances are you’ll also know how it was maintained if the customer has done maintenance/repairs with you during their ownership.


4)   Write compelling copy to stop consumers thumbs and grab their attention.


Compelling copy is an integral component of all successful digital marketing campaigns. Here are a few examples of compelling copy to deploy in your boat buying campaigns:


-      Pre-owned boat valuations are at all-time highs.

-      Easy, quick, and transparent cash offer experience.

-      If you’re looking to upgrade, custom order your new boat for next year now!


5)   Ensure your website is setup with Google Analytics events and goals to track the success of your advertising campaigns.


You can’t manage what you don’t measure. The ability to track lead submissions, text and chat conversations, and phone calls from these campaigns is critical to optimizing campaign performance. Be sure you are setup for success before your campaigns go live. You need to know which channels and sources are driving the best results, and without proper analytics, you might as well be guessing!


And there we have it folks, five elements of a successful boat buying campaign that you can put into action today. If we had the space, this could’ve easily been a list of 10-20 elements, but alas! Feel free to reach out should you have any questions as you explore deploying boat buying campaigns for your dealership!