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How to Create Winning Facebook Ads for Boat Dealers

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Marketing a boat dealership online requires a campaign consisting of search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and paid advertising. Facebook ads for boat dealerships are a great way to make the initial connection with potential customers and follow up with those who express interest in purchasing a boat.

Buying a new boat is a process that typically takes multiple touches to get a prospect into the showroom or out on the water for a test drive. It’s not an impulse purchase, requiring some relationship building before paperwork being signed.

The approach is similar to marketing an auto dealer, yet requires a little more to get the customer to commit. While the prices of new boats can be somewhat comparable to new cars, it’s a recreational purchase – not a transportation necessity.

Facebook ads can work well for boat dealerships by targeting the right audience, namely those interested in watercraft and other boat-related activities. While a cold approach is unlikely to immediately convert into a same-day boat sale, Facebook ads allow you to create awareness and pixel prospects to then place into a long-term marketing campaign.

Here are some things to take into consideration when creating a Facebook advertising campaign for a boat dealer. It’s a great platform to include in your marketing strategy and it can contribute to your dealership’s customer acquisition goals by working both the beginning and final stages of the conversion funnel.

Set Realistic Campaign Goals and Expectations

One of the biggest challenges boat dealerships face when running Facebook ads is related to goals and expectations. While it would be nice to create a campaign and watch boats leave the showroom right away, that just isn’t how the purchase cycle in this industry typically works.

For example, if you expect to sell a boat for ever $100 spent on Facebook ads you are going to be in for a rude awakening. It’s best to fully understand what are realistic goals before getting started.

Facebook ads allow you to reach a very targeted audience through interests, which is great for branding, and through its pixel, you can ‘tag’ each website visitor and directly market to them down the line.

You first have to get on the radar of a consumer, then you will need to remarket and touch them multiple times with content, offers, and boat information – to the point where they might bite and explore the purchase options if they have an interest in a boat and have the financial means necessary to consider buying a new boat.

There are a lot of obstacles in the way. You’re not selling a $40 impulse product that has the potential to convert on the first advertisement. Your Facebook ads are more of an introduction and means of marking potential prospects for future targeted marketing.

Design a Marketing Funnel for Long-Term Lead Maturity

As mentioned, purchasing a boat requires multiple interactions with a potential prospect. Oftentimes it’s your marketing that convinces the consumer that they are even in the market for a boat. Many don’t have the initial intention of purchasing a new boat, but after multiple interactions with your ads and marketing messages, they begin to take action and advance through the marketing and sales funnel.

Here is a very simple yet effective example:

First-Touch: Your initial Facebook ad targeting a cold audience is designed to introduce consumers to your boat dealership and pixel them.

Secon-Touch Email Capture: Your remarketing ads should offer some incentive or special offer to get the prospect to a landing page on your website where your top priority is collecting their email address.

Email Information Follow-Ups: Once you have their email address you can place them into an automated sequence that gives them information about boat ownership, highlighting the fun factor. The goal is to drip information and teasers over time, slowly getting them more interested in possible boat ownership.

Special Offer Close: After several emails painting the picture of the pros of owning a boat you can drop a special offer. Something along the lines of 0% APR financing or leftover model liquidation is the best at pulling in a high percentage of leads from this step of the funnel.

This will need to be tweaked for every campaign of course, but this is a simple template to give you an idea of how it works.

Run General Reach and Remarketing Campaigns

Nobody opens their Facebook app or logs into their profile on a desktop computer thinking, “I hope I see an advertisement from a local boat dealership because I suddenly have the urge to purchase a new boat.”

When you build your campaign being fully aware of this. it will help you create a process that introduces you to the local market and then quickly identifies prospects that are worth remarketing. Your campaigns need to be broken into two parts:

General Reach: These ads need to be a general introduction to your dealership, inviting a wide audience to click over to your website to learn more about the joys of boat ownership. You will want to test several different creative formats, from image to video, and touch on different points. These can include the affordability of owning a boat or simply the fun factor.

These campaigns should drive the user to a landing page on your website that provides information and also has an opt-in. You are paying for the click, so be sure there is a conversion opportunity available in the event someone is interested at this stage.

Remarketing: Your remarketing ads will only be shown to those that previously visited your website. Facebook’s tracking pixel allows you to display ads based on what specific pages were visited. If someone was looking at a fishing boat the ad will be more effective if it features the same model they were browsing. The customization available for remarketing is incredible and allows for very targeted ads to be run, pulling the highest quality leads back for more information, showroom visits, and demos.

Create Content That Sells the Dream and Generates Showroom Visits

The images and video used in your ads need to stand out. You are selling recreational vehicles that are a luxury and not a necessity. A boat or personal watercraft is an extravagant purchase for many, and one that has been a bucket list item for some time.

We see many boat dealerships create Facebook ads using stock images and repurposing video content from the manufacturer. There is nothing about this content that draws the prospect in – it just feels like corporate advertising content.

You need to use images and video that sells the dream. Some examples:

  • An early morning setting with a dad and his son on the boat fishing, painting the picture of making precious memories.
  • A boat packed with friends partying, listening to music, and having a great time. Someone should see this and think, “Wow, owning a boat equals having a good time!”
  • A group of friends riding personal watercraft around having the time of their life, paired with great music and an incredible background.

Facebook ads for boat dealers have to attract interest from those that had no intention of even considering buying a boat soon. Strong ad copy paired with images that sell the dream is how you pull users from their Facebook feed into your showroom.

Final Thoughts

While the Facebook advertising tips above are fairy first and to the point it’s important to understand that this is one of the most rapidly changing advertising platforms out there. Facebook is constantly tweaking its algorithm and updating its policy.

A business, even if fully committed to running a successful boat dealer Facebook ad campaign, simply doesn’t have the advantage of a full-service agency that manages campaigns for multiple dealerships. The information and data collected at scale enable better results for all clients.

In the ever-changing world of Facebook ads being able to pivot and change at the correct time makes a big difference in the number of impressions, clicks, engagement, and conversions, as well as the cost associated with each.

We would love to set up a time to speak with you and explain the process we use to run highly successful Facebook advertising campaigns for boat dealers throughout the country. Contact us today to learn more about our online marketing services for boat dealerships, and more specifically, our full-service Facebook advertising service.

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