Enhance Your Dealership’s Online Presence

• 7 ways to connect with your digital customers

We don’t have to tell you that the world is no longer only doing business as brick and mortar. Consumers seek digital shopping experiences – from purchasing groceries to tents to boats – in the comfort of their own home and on their mobile devices. They do much of their product research online, operating digitally before they even set foot in a dealership. That’s why is critical to create a strong online presence for your dealership and brand.

These 7 steps will help you improve your store’s digital approach and, in turn, create more opportunities to connect with customers and give them the experiences they seek.

  1. Virtual Showroom: We have all heard the term virtual showroom. It became really popular in 2020 during the pandemic. However, making the changes necessary to make your website a virtual showroom is as important as ever. You need to improve the online shopping experience by making sure your inventory is up to date and showcases the boats — with supportive images and videos – available at your physical location(s).
  2. Quality Photos: Every online listing needs high-quality and unique photos. Stock manufacturer-supplied photos work for showing a boat’s attributes, but they don’t create the same level of engagement as your unique pictures. Custom images provide evidence of the boat’s look, condition and location and adds to your credibility.
  3. Interactive Features: Adding 360-degree experiences within gallery or live-action walk-through videos are superior to only having static images of boats. Not every customer wants to go to a lot to explore a boat — at least until they are closer to making a purchasing decision — so your ability to accommodate a simulated on-site experience will engage more customers and allow them to browse on their time and their terms.  
  4. Simplify the User Experience: If you’re going to do this, make certain your online experience is user friendly and has the ability to capture information. You want your site to be able to know what boats someone has already browsed and suggest other appropriate options. The same goes for inputs for budget and boat types. Your ability to remember customers lets you personalize their shopping experience upon their return.
  5. Lead Generation & Follow-Up: Capturing leads is essential for your business and sales team. One easy way to ascertain leads is to create a quarterly, monthly or weekly newsletter. Add simple forms for customers to complete to get more information or to schedule meetings with your sales associates. This information is helpful because it helps your team follow-up and engage leads with personalized communication that reflects their interests and preferences.
  6. Content Marketing: You’re dealership and employees are boating experts and guides that can help your customers during their ownership journey. That’s why it’s wise to paint yourself as a marine industry thought leader by sharing blog posts, how-to articles and educational videos. Plus this organic content can help drive traffic to your site, exposing more consumers to your brand, products and services.
  7. Mobile Optimization: Let’s face it, nearly everyone you know has a smart phone. More and more consumers are shopping exclusively by using their mobile phones. Your website must be mobile friendly and quick. Interested buyers won’t stick around if your site takes forever to load, is difficult to navigate or looks terrible on a smart phone.

You can attract online customers and provide them with a desirable shopping experience by simply focusing on these areas. They may visit your online storefront numerous times before contacting your team or visiting your showroom, so give them the experience they seek and meet them where they are. By establishing this level of support and interweaving online shopping with brick-and-mortar support, you can help build trust with these potential customers, generate leads and boost your sales.

2023 revised MRAA Operation: Keep Your Customers Boating Guide

MRAA resources offering tactics for improving your digital presence:

[AIMIE, MRAA’s AI for Marine Industry Education and content delivery system, was used as a resource in the production of this content. Learn more.]