Digital marketing today allows advertisers to target advertising and promotions in ways that seemed impossible even 10 years ago. Thanks to advances in digital marketing, yacht brokers and dealers can find potential new customers online and target them with positive messages about boating and their brands that ultimately can increase sales.

That was the message that Jonathan Brownfield, CEO of Lift Digital Media in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., conveyed during his presentation at the IYBA’s 2017 East Coat Yacht Sales Summit in June. The 30-year-old Brownfield has spent 10 years working on digital strategies and has been ranked in the “Top 40 Under 40” by two magazines. He has developed digital strategies for companies of all sizes, including several Fortune 500 organizations.

It all begins with getting to know your customers and their specific boating interests through their online browsing and shopping habits – even their messaging – in order to discover which ones actually might be interested in buying a yacht. Are they male or female or married, single or divorced? Do they have children? What are their ages?

“The reason all this is important is if you can talk to your customer and show them relevant messaging information directed to that audience, they’re ten times more likely to buy from you,” Brownfield said. “So, a 30-year old wants to see a bunch of girls in bikinis drinking shots on a yacht, whereas a 55- or 65-year-old grandmother wants to see the whole family getting together aboard a yacht and having a nice family vacation that’s very PG.”

The next step, he continued, is finding out how reach these online users with targeted digital messenging.

Marketing studies decades ago found that potential customers needed to interact with a company’s brand at least three times before they would commit to a purchase. Today, Brownfield said, studies show that it takes eight interactions to motivate a purchaser. “What that means for us is that we need to go ahead and touch these people multiple times and in multiple ways in order to get them to build that relationship,” he said. There are a number of ways to reach these consumers using the Internet and social media, according to Brownfield. His favorites are:

• Social Media

• Search Engine Marketing

• Display Advertising

• Video

Social media, he said, is an excellent way to sell the boating/yachting lifestyle that can be very impactful with younger consumers who aren’t necessarily interested in owning a boat. “So, we can build social media content that shows that experience in a visual way by using photos or pictures,” he said. “They’ll be much more engaged with it and click through.”

On a Facebook page, for example, if the content resonates, people can “like” or share the page, making it visible to other people. Advertising also can be tailored to the interests of a particular consumer in order to catch their eye.

In Search Engine Marketing, developing the right key words is critical. They should be relevant to an advertiser’s landing page. “So if you’re talking about buying a yacht and chartering in the Bahamas in the ad, you need a landing page that talks about what to do in the Bahamas to keep it relevant and engaging for your audience,” he explained.

In display advertising, Brownfield said that data segments based on people’s search habits, their online behaviors and conversations can be used to target consumers. All this can be pulled into the display ads, which either can be static or have animation in order to make them more active.

Brownfield says video is a useful tour for our industry because you can post a virtual tour of a particular yacht. 

The final piece of the puzzle is your website. Make sure it’s formatted for smartphones, tablets and other viewing media. Also, it’s important to ensure the website includes a “call to action” that will motivate the viewer to contact you for more information.

Digital marketing really works. Brownfield said his agency was able to quadruple one broker’s leads using digital marketing and online advertising.

The future is here, and it’s on the web.