It’s almost time to say goodbye and good riddance to 2020. This year the world was faced with a global pandemic that had an impact on every business. It’s vital for a business’ success in 2021 to create a long-term digital strategy inclusive of multiple channels to meet evolving customer needs and expectations. It’s all about meeting customers where they are to tell your brand’s story. Industries across the board are changing to accommodate updated e-commerce requirements in the transitioning digital landscape.

Social Media Channels

Many businesses in the marine industry have tried to stay relevant on all social media channels. As 2021 approaches, it’s important to note just how many social media platforms are taking off right now. It can be tempting for your marketing team to feel the need to take advantage of every trending social media platform. However, businesses that have attempted to stay relevant on all channels are realizing that it’s better to share and influence only on those that are relevant. The need for businesses to declutter their online presence is a must. Reducing your business’s social media accounts to only what is relevant will not only be popular but also necessary.

Tip: Make a list of every social networking platform that your business has a profile for, and get rid of the accounts on platforms that aren’t relevant to your niche, products, services, and audience. This will make room for you to focus on your online presence for sites that you know you can connect with your audience on. If you have no clue what to post about on TikTok, your business doesn’t need a TikTok account.

Social Media Purchasing

Social media platforms like Facebook are making it easier and easier for customers to go from the research stage to the purchase stage without ever leaving the platform. This isn’t to say that most people looking to buy boats are going to purchase immediately from a Facebook post. It is likely that when you’re selling a boat in 2021, you will have some in-person contact with your buyer. However, potential boat buyers will be scoping out the social media landscape when they start to consider buying a boat and which boating businesses they want to work with.

Tip: As social commerce continues to grow in 2021, use social media as a tool to create a seamless path to purchase.

Virtual Events

Virtual events became increasingly popular in 2020 as an obvious result of the pandemic. As virtual events became more popular, companies found that by going virtual they opened up their event to entirely new audiences. Virtual events can be more accessible than in-person events because it gets rid of issues like travel restrictions, costs, etc. that are bigger factors that come into play with in-person events. Many companies also found that virtual events allow for higher attendance and more participation (this means lower cost for more people and a higher ROI for businesses.

We attended the MRAA’s Dealer Week conference this year, which was entirely online. Virtual events will continue to be a popular path to engage with a wide audience of potential customers in the coming new year. Diversify your online activity to connect with more engaged users and go outside of traditional sales messaging.

Tip: As 2021 approaches, get your creative thinking cap on and brainstorm ways to drive engagement during virtual boating events by using things like professional speakers, rich content, and fun, interactive courses.

Informed Consumers

We’re beyond the age of personalization, and entering a new age of personal commerce. Consumers co-curate their experiences with brands to reflect their preferences at any moment. Consumers today expect brands to understand what they’ve purchased in the past so that they can help them determine what to buy next. This is based on data shared with them over time by engaging with a brand’s social media channels and websites. As a boat dealer, if you are collecting first-party shopper data, you’ll need to begin actioning it in meaningful ways, and predicting what your customers want to see next. Informed boat buyers want to buy from informed boat dealers.

Tip: Understand where your customers are at in their customer journey and purchasing patterns, so that you’re prepared to tell them what they want when they want it.

Customer Segmentation

Another trend that’s not a new concept but rather newly popular is customer segmentation. Instead of a small number of large marketing campaigns targeting general audiences, it’s better to have a large number of small marketing campaigns targeting specific audiences.

Customer segmentation means grouping your target audience by certain traits or behaviors, such as demographics or purchasing habits. This allows you to more accurately tailor your marketing to fit their preferences; for example, having two separate email lists for big spenders and small spenders, and sending different newsletters to each that feature different boat models.

This strategy works best for personalization and customer engagement, as your followers receive content specifically picked for them. Beyond email lists, you can apply customer segmentation to specialized ads on different sites on Google and Facebook, categories of blog content, and social media content for Twitter as compared to Instagram.

The world of digital marketing continues to evolve, creating more opportunities than ever to connect with customers in a targeted purchase journey. Research offers insights into the key concepts for the coming year to create a marketing strategy that will drive customer engagement and ultimately boat sales. Take these marketing trends into mind and consider them when outlining your own digital marketing strategy for the new year.

If you need help getting started, we’re happy to talk with you about planning your marketing strategy.


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