Getting Started with Email Marketing at Your Marina

Post by - Published on 01/12/17 12:00 PM

Hooray for Email Marketing!

Ah, Emails. We all love them, right? 

As much as people talk about hating "spam," the power and effectiveness of email marketing is undeniable. Consider the following stats from Entrepreneur Magazine:

Email marketing is fast, cheap and effective, and it's the best way to generate repeat business from your past and current dockage and service customers.

Some Notes on Email Marketing

  • Any email communication is considered "email marketing" if it helps to build customer loyalty, trust in your company, or brand recognition. Email marketing is an efficient way to stay connected with your clients while also promoting your business.
  • With email marketing, you can easily and quickly reach target markets without the need for large and expensive quantities of print space, television or radio time or high production costs.
  • Thanks to effective email marketing software, you can maintain an email list that has been segmented based on several factors including the length of time addresses have been on the list, customers’ likes and dislikes, spending habits and other important criteria.
  • Emails are then created and sent out to specifically target members of your email list, providing them with a personalized email detailing information that they are interested in or have requested.

What's stopping you from diving in? Get started:  

Step 1: Set up your Email Marketing System

If you're new to email marketing, we recommend that you use MailChimp, a leading email marketing platform, which is free up to 2,000 contacts. Sign up for MailChimp here

Once your MailChimp account is up and running, we recommend that you create lists for your email sends.

Step 2: Create your Customer Lists

Create not one, but three separate customer lists in MailChimp or your email marketing system of choice: Master customer list (all customers included), Seasonal & Monthly Slip-Holders, and Transient Guests. 

To set up these lists, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Compile your lists in a spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel or GoogleSheets
  • Step 2: Create three separate worksheets in your file, one for each list mentioned above
  • Step 3: Export your customer data from your finance system, if you don't already have it in a spreadsheet
  • Step 4: Clean up your columns. Be sure you've broken out (at a minimum) your customers' first name, last name, and email addresses into separate columns
  • Step 5: Once you have your lists compiled, import them into your email marketing system, following these instructions:

Step 3: Set up your Email Template

Your email template is the design – i.e., the look and feel – of your email marketing emails. All email marketing systems will come with some "out of the box" templates. Use them! Starting with a template means you only need a picture and logo to be off and running.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A nice photo of your marina. Don't have one? Take one with a smartphone on the next sunny day. Preferably from the water!
  • Your marina's logo image file (you can save it from your website)
  • That's it!

In MailChimp, setting up your email template is as easy as clicking on "Templates" in the main navigation and the "Create Template" button. Keep it simple and choose "One Column" as your base template.  

Then, click on the image area of the template and upload your marina logo image. Add another image section below the text section of the email, and upload your marina image there. Of course, feel free to experiment and get creative with your design, but pretty quickly you can have something like this put together:

Screenshot 2017-01-11 18.01.43.png

Step 4: Map out your Content

You're set up and ready to send your first campaign! Congratulations!

Before you start blasting email out there, take time to strategize around which emails you want to put into action. Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Monthly Newsletters: Include news, special deals, events at your facility and local happenings
  • Beginning- and End-of-Season Emails: At the beginning of your season, email your transient customers encouraging them to book now! (You might consider hosting an Opening Booking Day!) Thank your customers at the end of your season.
  • Deals and Promotions: Give a small discount on dockage or fuel to transient boaters and promote the campaign through email marketing. You can also use this approach to fill inventory during slow days and weekends when you need to fill slips/moorings.
  • Automated Customer Service Emails: Send emails to your customers as they arrive, while they're in-port, and as they depart. Welcome them to your marina, tell them about goings on, and thank them for their stay!

We hope this helped you get your email marketing off the ground! Stay tuned for more marketing insights by subscribing below. 

Interested in learning more about what Dockwa can do for you? Get in touch:



Get out there today!

Dockwa's mission is to connect boaters and marinas. Sign up for Dockwa to make the most of being a boat owner. Explore new harbors and book slips and moorings within minutes - all with the tips of your fingers.

Sign Up