There are many things you need to be a successful boat broker and sell more brokerage boats. But some of them are absolutely essential.
Generating traffic to your listings is one of the most important elements to your success in sales. If you don’t think it is, just ignore the following tips and my audience will keep stealing sales from you.
So let’s get on it…
According to a few studies out there, it is reported that over 94% of boat buyers are using the web to search for their dream boats. With so much competition and listings out there, it is imperative that you learn how to bring traffic to your listing page.
Generating traffic is not easy if you don’t know what to do and can be quite time-consuming. I decided to share these tips to help you attract more prospects, generate more leads and sell more brokerage boats.
1) Create A Traffic Map
First things first. Just like any project or goal in life, you need to start by creating a clear plan to get there.
When I talk about traffic, I always like to take the spider analogy.
Imagine that you were a spider. What would you do to get food? Spiders get their food by following 2 simple strategies.
1) Find the place with the highest concentration of insects.
2) Build the largest web to catch as many insects as possible.
In other words, respond to the following question: “Where could my potential boat buyers be?”
Once you identify where they are, put traps in place to capture as many of them as possible.
To design a clear traffic map, you can divide your incoming traffic into 3 categories:
- General web traffic:
I always like to analyze the Alexa 100 list and select the top 10 potential incoming traffic sources related to my business. I reviewed the list and made the selection for you: Craigslist, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Ebay, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Bing.
- General Industry traffic (offline & online):
Try to identify the top 10 sources of incoming traffic: (Email marketing, your website, Yachtworld, boats.com, Yatco, boattrader.com, industry magazines or websites etc)
- Local traffic (offline & online):
Top 10 sources of local traffic that could attract potential boat buyers (eg: Craigslist, Kijiji, local classifieds website, local newspaper, yacht club, marina, networking events, etc)
Now that you have spent some time crafting your traffic map identifying all your potential sources of traffic, it’s time to get some action and implement strategies to generate more traffic and get more leads.
2) Quality Information and Complete Listings
Once you have established a plan, make sure that your prospects that land on your listing page find relevant, complete and up to date information.
- Did you provide enough details about the boat?
- Does it speak to your targeted audience?
- Did you list all the important info like model, size, engine, age, condition, equipment, etc?
- Has it been edited for grammar and spelling?
- Did you mention the reason for selling?
- Did you put a call to action at the end with a compelling reason to call you?
- Did you put clear contact information?
If you have difficulties writing and need more info to present your boat you can find inspiration on the boat builder’s website to identify strong selling points.
Go to the boat builder’s website and get inspiration from some of their best benefits, lifestyle statements, etc... Their marketing department spent a lot of time and money identifying the strengths and benefits of their boats and brand. So now, you can use it to increase the perceived value of your listings and enhance the quality of your ad.
For instance, people who buy a Harley don't buy it for the bike itself, they buy it for the legacy of the brand. You can go on the Harley Davidson website and steal the best copywriting sentences about Harley and use them to influence prospects to purchase it on your ad.
If you want a complete template of what the perfect ad would look like, check my course the « 30 Secrets to Boat Sales ». One lesson is dedicated to this topic.
- Ace your subject line & share a story
Do you know what attracts the most responses on dating sites after a profile photo?
-The descriptive blurb-
It describes their story, personality, and character.
It is the same for boats. People don’t buy only based on specs or rational decisions, but they buy based on emotions. It is your responsibility to transfer emotions and get those prospects engaged to contact you back.
An easy way to do so is to start with a great headline and always share a story in your listing presentation.
When it comes to headlines, you need to make sure that they contain the following:
- A benefit (stated or implied) for the prospect.
- Something that is novel or topical.
- A curiosity element
“Savour this well maintained 48' ABC boat, 13’ Boston Whaler dinghy included!"
"Turnkey 2005 44’ ABC Trawler. You won’t believe how many weeks you will spend on the water."
You know that your customers make the decision to buy or not based on their emotions. And what is the best way to ignite emotions?
It doesn’t matter if you sell a yacht, outboard engine or a $250.000.00 a week charter, you have to tell a story to sell your product. So always make sure to do some storytelling in your ad to compel your prospects to contact you. Tell them the reason the owner is selling or the story behind the boat or the brand, etc.
3) Keywords Optimization
Majority of online shoppers filter before searching, making keywords very important. Keywords should be used throughout the title and body of your listing. All the search engines give priority to keyword optimized pages. You can easily generate traffic by repeating keywords that appeal to your audience.
One of the most common mistakes brokers make is that they base their listing’s headline, keywords or description on how they describe the product rather than on what their market is looking for.
Another example, if you think that people are looking for a diesel engine or looking for a fishing boat, make sure to emphasize on the keywords “diesel” and “fishing”. If you are promoting your listing on social media, leverage the #hashtags. It is very simple to implement and will boost your chances of exposure if anybody is looking for this particular keyword.
4) Social Media
I know you have heard it a dozen times: “Share it on social media.”
Before going further let me prove to you that it works!
Over the last 2 months, I have generated over 150.000 page views from social media on my website www.boatshowavenue.com
Here is the proof below from our Google Analytics:
My company generates tons of traffic from social media.
Once you have a link on your listing, make sure to share it on social platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Make sure that the shared post features a photo.
TIP: If Facebook doesn’t recognize a photo for your URL, you can use the debugger. (Great and simple tool that I often use). (https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/og/object/)
Encourage people to like and share and also make sure that the photo is attractive and that you provide a strong call to action to click on the post. After testing several types of posts, we found that the shortest text and the nicest photo was often outperforming any other post.
5) Image Is Everything
Data constantly shows that information retention is significantly higher for visual material than it is for text. Image-rich listings are much more effective than text-based listings. Be sure that your boat listing contains plenty of attractive and professional photos. In my opinion, over 90% of the listings on boating MLS platforms have bad quality photos.
Have you heard of that new controversial iPhone app called Pixtr that enhances your photos automatically once you take a selfie? We should invent this app for boats as over 95% of listings are not attractive on listing sites!
But don’t worry, I found you a cheap and simple solution to help you with this issue. Have you heard of the website called Fiverr? You can find thousands of small gigs done for $5 from thousands of freelancers worldwide.
Let me show you an example of a very useful gig that can help you increase your chances of selling your boats. A friend & broker was selling a Fairline 50'. His photo was taken in Vancouver and was rather unattractive (weather and location). I decided to purchase a gig on Fiver for 5$ and change the background. Check the result below:
TIP: Take a sideways photo of the boat as it will be much easier to Photoshop.
6) Leverage Organic Search
Let me start by a quick joke: Do you know the best place to hide a dead body?
-The second page of Google-
When I launched Yacht Sales Academy, just over a year ago, I decided to use a simple WordPress template so I could easily update the content myself. I didn’t understand anything about SEO but after looking at my Google analytics, I noticed that I was getting barely any traffic from search engines. I needed a very simple way to make sure my website was SEO friendly. A friend who had a WordPress site recommended a plugin called Yoast.
I implemented the exact SEO strategy that I am revealing to you right now and after a few months, I now have over 50% of my traffic that comes from search engines.
So before we get started, let me give you a very simple SEO lesson:
Rule 1) SEO means “Search Engine Optimization”
Rule 2) This is simply a fancy way of saying “getting your listings to rank high in search engines so when people type in relevant keywords they find links to your boats for sale.”
Rule 3) Google is the most visited search engine on the web. Youtube is the second one.
Rule 4) Thousands of people look at Google every day to find the boats of their dream.
Rule 5) There are 2 types of SEO techniques. One is called on-page SEO: maximizing your web page optimization to get the best search results. The second one is called off-page SEO: leveraging backlinks from other websites to get more traffic and rank higher in search engines.
Rule 6) SEO can be quite confusing and overwhelming, but you don’t need to understand it perfectly to get great results.
Rule 7) I’m going to show you a very basic and effective way to leverage the power of on-page SEO without getting overwhelmed.
Before we start, let me show you an example of the kinds of results you can get. Our website BoatShowAvenue comes first in search results for a lot of boats, even before the manufacturer.
1) Keyword Research
First, you have to identify what type of keywords your audience is looking for.
For example: if you're a boat broker, dealer or builder, your target keyword list may include topics from different categories:
Local Market: Boat brokers in “yourcity”, “yachts for sale in “yourcity’- “Where to go boating in “yourcity” SeaRay boat for sale in “yourcity” etc
Industry or Boat Specific: “Princess 43 for sale”, “Boston Whaler for sale” “Sunseeker 80 for sale”, “How to find a good boat broker”, etc…
Once you identify what your audience will be searching for, you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner or Jaaxy that lets you sort through your keywords based on different criteria: visits, rank, and difficulty, so you can identify what would work or not.
Always focus towards targeting keywords with high search volume and low competition. I like using the free Jaaxy software. You can sign up for free for 30 days and get a complete list of keywords. Here is an example that I did below.
*Keywords: A phrase that users type into a search engine to find what they are looking for
*AVG: Average number of searches that the keyword receives per month
*Traffic: Visits to your website if you achieve first page rankings into the search engine
*QSR: Quoted Search Results: The number of competing websites ranked on Google for this exact keyword
*KQI: Keyword Quality Indicator: Green = great; Yellow = ok; Red = poor
*SEO: A score based on traffic and competition. The higher the score, the more likely you will rank for this keyword on the first page (scale 1-100 higher = better)
TIP: Make sure to save your Jaaxy keywords on a list so once you are done you can review your complete list with all the details.
If you want to learn more about keyword optimization, I would recommend that you look at this video below. No need to buy their software but their explainer video gives great insights into how keywords search works.
2) On-page Optimization
After establishing your list of keywords that you plan to target, you are ready to start optimizing your website. Be sure to avoid the old school “keyword-stuffing” while keeping your website organized and easy to navigate.
Here is what search engine algorithms take into consideration:
-Quality of content (Copy and paste from other sites will not work well. Content needs to be interesting but also relevant to the targeted keywords)
-Website must be mobile friendly
-URL (are your keywords present in URL?)
-Headers tags, meta description, titles, (should contain your keywords) If you don't understand what those terms mean, don't worry, I will describe it soon.
-Recurrence of the keywords (Optimum recurrence is between 1% to 2.5% per article but it has to remain natural. So for 100 words you can use the keywords once to twice max)
-Names of images (name images based on your keywords)
And a few more things but if you do the above properly you will be better than 98% of other websites out there.
So let me show you a concrete example. For instance, I want to focus on the keyword “boat broker training”
Here is what I did to optimize my page:
1) Changed my article heading to: “Boat Broker Training: Discover The Top 5 Mistakes In Boat Sales”
2) Changed my page title to "Boat Broker Training: Discover The Top 5 Mistakes In Boat Sales"
3) Page URL: yachtsalesacademy.com/boat-broker-training
4) Content (placed the keywords “boat broker training” a few times in my content
5) Meta description: Described my page by including the keywords “Boat Broker Training” (The meta description is the internal description of the page that search engines use in search results (see Snippet preview below))
You can see below a preview of my Yoast SEO panel just on top of my article editing interface on WordPress.
If you don’t have Yoast plugin, don't worry. Just follow the same structure or give the list of keywords and instructions to your webmaster.
NOTE: It always takes some time for search engines to pick up your content so it is not because you do those things that you will immediately be on the first page of Google but TRUST me it will help you huge in the long term.
6) Email Marketing
The majority of business’ are focused on attracting clients through Multiple Listing Sites or social media and often forget the power of email marketing. Email marketing is an amazing tool that can bring you a significant amount of traffic.
The most important element of a successful business is to have an email list. Just be careful not to bombard clients with annoying emails or newsletters describing every single news in your business. Instead of sending a complete newsletter, you can send a simple short email like this:
Hope this email finds you well. Do you know anybody interested in a 2009 Sea Ray 450?
Are you still interested in a motor boat?
(Stick to this 9 words email). You will get amazing responses. I wrote a course about the power of the 9 words email to revive dead leads in my "30 Secrets to Boat Sales" training program.
Here is a great hack for email marketing when you need to email large amounts of people but don’t want it to look robotic/templated. Instead of sending emails 1 by 1 which would take way too much time and energy you can use a program called Mail Merge.
Mail merge allows you to email a group of people and insert their names, or any other unique fields you want into the copy, so it looks to the reader that you’re sending a tailored email.
Here is a 10-minute video describing this amazing app. It is free for up to 100 emails a day or just costs $30 or $40 for the full license. I have used it for the last 5 years and wouldn't want to imagine working without it.
7) Make Sure Your Site Is Responsive
If your website or listing page is not mobile optimized, you are going to lose a lot of traffic as search engines are now penalizing non-mobile optimized pages.
Ensure that your website is accessible and comfortably viewable across a range of devices, including smaller smartphones. Just go to the Google mobile-friendly test page to check: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
8) Examine Your Analytics Data
Google Analytics is a valuable source of data on just about every conceivable aspect of your site, from your most popular pages to visitor demographics.
Make sure to keep a close eye on your analytics data, and use this information to elaborate or adjust your promotional and traffic strategies. Pay attention to what pages are the most popular. Inspect visitor behavior to see how, where and when your site traffic is coming from.
There are basically 2 main things you want to track to improve traffic.
Where are your customers coming from: (Acquisition)
What do they do on your site (Behavior)
9) Leverage Video & Youtube:
According to Cisco, in less than 2 years, videos will account for nearly 70% of all consumer online traffic. Videos is an excellent way to grab – and hold – your audience’s attention, and boost traffic to your website at the same time.
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine and the 3rd most visited website worldwide, after Google and Facebook?
We launched our channel last year and already have 2 million views and it brought us a significant amount of traffic and awareness.
You don’t necessarily need to have a video of your listing to post it on Youtube. You can easily create a video of your listing using Ken Burns effect. The Ken Burns effect is a type of zooming effect used in a video from still images, originally created by American documentarian Ken Burns.
Create a short video of your listing and publish it on Youtube.com You can use Fiverr and have it done for $5.
Here is an example of a video that I put together for $5.
I used a listing from our friends at 50 North Brokerage as they always take nice still photos for their boat.
Make a short video of your boats and publish it on YouTube.com.
Once you publish it on Youtube, make sure to optimize it. Here is a little checklist for you:
- Title: Place your title in quotes. Add your company name at the end. Avoid dashes. Example: « Sea Ray 450 Sundance for sale in Vancouver » by ABC Yacht Sales
- Video Description: Start with the main keywords you are trying to target or just copy and paste your title in the first line. Example: Here is a beautiful Sea Ray 450 Sundancer for sale in Vancouver. This gorgeous boat was built in 2009 and has always been maintained at our ABC Yacht Sales service center, etc.
- Video Description: At the end of your video description, make sure to add all your contact info, website listing URL, and links of different social channels.
- Tagging: Start with your video title and then most important keywords. Find a balance between what people are searching the most and what’s RELEVANT with your content.
Example of tags: Sea Ray. Sundancer, boats for sale, used boats, boat owner, boat brokerage, boating, boating in Vancouver, cruising in Vancouver,
- Annotations: every one of your videos should annotate to at LEAST one more video (playlists are better). Adding annotations is fairly simple and you will find a lot of tutorials online.
- Annotations: put at least one 'subscribe' annotation near the end of all your videos. This way, you increase subscribers to your channel and the chances of your video or future videos being viewed.
- Playlists: create relevant playlists using your videos and but also using other people’s relevant videos. Make sure that the titles and descriptions of these playlists are keyword rich too.
- Comments & likes: Encourage viewers to comment. The more people like & comment, the more chances of your videos being viewed.
- Post regularly: Monday and Thursday mornings are reported to be the best times to upload videos.
10 ) Multiple Listing Sites (MLS)
Listing your boats on MLS might increase your chances of selling more brokerage boats but does NOT guarantee you serious results or important traffic.
Too many brokers rely on MLS to sell their boats without taking any real actions to promote their listings and generate more leads. I want to show you how dangerous it can be to play the waiting game without taking proactive actions. Let’s look at Yachtworld's data for a moment.
On their media kit, Yachtworld claims to have 3 million visitors monthly and to receive 45k leads per month.
It would mean that only 1.5% of visitors generate leads.
Yachtworld also mentions that 2473 boats were sold during the month of September.
It means that on average, 5.5% of monthly leads are converted into sales.
So for every 1215 visitors on Yachtworld, we can expect one boat sold.
Imagine being in retail and needing 1215 persons stepping into your store in order to make a sale! This is why relying only on MLS traffic to keep your business afloat is very dangerous.
Now let’s look at the average time it takes to sell a boat.
Based on information on their homepage, Yachtworld currently has 112.379 listings.
If you compare this to the number of boats reportedly sold in September (2473) you have a ratio of 2.2% of boats sold during this month.
At this rate, you would need an average of 45 months or nearly 4 years to sell an average listing.
So by now you start to understanding the challenge in boat sales.
My goal by sharing those numbers is not to criticize Yachtworld, (I still think that they are a wonderful marketplace to sell boats). I simply want to show you that posting a listing on the MLS and waiting for the magic email or phone call is NOT going to work.
If you want to maximize your chances to sell your boats you have to use alternatives. I came up with a technique to help you sell more boats on MLS. It is called the Reverse Engineering Formula.
If you want to receive the exact blueprint for the Reverse Engineering Formula share your email here and you will receive it.
*Tying into the real world:
Put a sign on a boat, a printed ad at the local marina or on a local newspaper. Make it simple for the clients and send them to a short URL like bit.ly. You can track how many times people land on your page and customize your own URL like http://bit.ly/regulator41forsale for instance. Get creative and get that link out in the world!
It can be a bit of work, but starting your own blog can generate fantastic traffic for your listings. If you don’t enjoy writing, you can always curate interesting articles or find another form of content: videos, creating lists, photography, short boating tips, etc.
Now it’s your turn.
Are you ready to start generating traffic to sell more brokerage boats? Focus on the steps that I have outlined for you.
Step 1: Start by creating your traffic map.
Step 2: Create a quality listing page and enhance it with wonderful visual content.
Step 3: Start promoting it through different channels.
Let me know if you find this article useful and also share other traffic strategies below.
The best traffic hack will receive a free ebook with "20 Immediate Tips to Increase Boat Sales"