5 tips for selling more boats online
Writing an effective Internet ad will help you sell more boats in less time. Are you curious to find out how? Well, to start with …
1) Hook them with the headline
Consider this lesson No. 1: the headline and first sentence of an ad are your best shot at drawing buyers in and getting them interested. But there’s a lot more to writing an effective ad than merely generating interest. You also have to educate and — even more important — excite the buyer.
“We have found time and time again that the better the listing, the better the results,” says Lex Raas, president of marketing, charter and special initiatives for MarineMax. “Many times a first impression is all you have with a customer and if that boat listing is our only shot, then we’d better make the most of it.”
Raas also feels that today’s buyer is well educated.
“Customers are coming in well informed about our inventory and the marketplace because they’ve done their homework. Websites like Boats.com offer customers a chance to get up close and personal with the boat before they’ve even seen it, through photos, videos and the information entered on the listing.”
2) Put your strongest selling point first
We’ll have articles in the future that address photos and videos, but for now, let’s focus on the “information” part of the equation. After drawing the buyer in, immediately start feeding them information that incorporates the strongest selling point or a unique feature of the boat — something that’s likely to get the buyer excited. One example comes by way of a Bay Yacht Sales’ listing for a Sea Ray 630. The first sentence read “Rare two stateroom model, the only one on the West Coast.” Immediately, anyone who lives on or near the West Coast and wants the two-stateroom version of this boat is going to be very, very interested. Many other ads would simply read “Unique model” or “Limited availability,” which might sound nice, but don’t give the reader as much information or a sense of urgency. Why didn’t we include a link to this ad, so you could see the example firsthand? Because soon after we identified the listing, the boat was sold — the ad had worked.
3) Make use of bulleted lists
Another tactic used in this and many other successful ads is the use of bulleted lists. Condensing simple points into a bulleted list (such as recent upgrades or extra electronics) allows the reader of your ad to gain a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time.
4) Use proper netiquette
But while you’re feeding buyers this information you also need to treat them with respect and always keep Internet etiquette (“netiquette”) in mind. Most importantly, don’t “shout” at the reader by using all caps through the entire ad. Although this may seem like nitpicking, according to Miles Tinker, a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota who studied how eye movements and reader interpretation relates to font, people find capital letters less legible and tend to read them letter by letter instead of word by word (as they do with lower case print). In other words, writing an ad in all caps not only risks annoying readers, it also physically slows them down — a sure-fire way to leave someone with a negative feeling when you want to leave them with a positive one.
There are a few other netiquette issues to keep in mind: inserting too many bolded words, colored fonts and exclamation points can also do more harm than good. Use them, but be judicious. In fact, two sentences in a row with any of these formats is usually one too many.
5) Don’t forget the specs
Now that you have the bulk of your ad written, you’ve grabbed your readers, and you’ve excited and educated them without annoying or slowing them down, it’s time to fill in all the blanks — specifications count. Yes, prospective buyers can check on the specs for virtually any model of boat elsewhere on the Web, but why would you want to drive them away from your listing? It’s true that gathering and inputting them takes time and extra effort on your part, but a buyer will also find it aggravating if they can’t get all of the information they want in one place, at the same time. On top of that, missing specs can lead to mistaken assumptions. Fuel capacity, for example, can vary from one year to another in the same model of boat. For some buyers, the difference could be a deal-killer — so make sure they have all the information they need to make the right call.
Okay, now let’s recap the important stuff, with one of those lists we talked about earlier:
1) Write a headline that grabs the reader.
2) Include information that will get them excited in the first sentence.
3) Use bullet points for lists. They grab the eye, are easy to read and get the point across quickly.
4) Watch your netiquette, especially when it comes to using capital letters.
5) Gather and include all the specifications possible.
Use these five tactics when you write an Internet ad, and you’re sure to sell more boats in less time. And like Lex said: the better the listing, the better the results.