If you're familiar with marketing concepts and jargon, you probably know that when we talk about the Marina Marketing Funnel we're not talking about a baking tool that can whip up an ad campaign for your marina (but, hey, what an idea!).
Rather, we're referring to the metaphor used to describe how "ready" boaters are to book your marina - from a large group at the top who have never heard of you, to a small group at the bottom who are super eager to book with you. Whether a boater hasn't taken his vessel off its trailer in a year (top of the funnel), is planning a cruising trip next week (middle of the funnel) or is on the water in your area (bottom of the funnel), boaters at all points of the funnel could ultimately become return customers of yours should you take the right steps to persuade them.
But with just 24 hours in a day, growing your boater network is a prioritization game. Who, out the millions of boaters in the industry-wide funnel (15.8 million in the US as of 2016), should you prioritize convincing to book at your marina? It's best to start by securing the funnel's bottom: the boaters that are closest to making a reservation.Think of these boaters as neighbors standing on the front steps of your new home with fresh-baked cherry pie. All you have to do to make a friend and get pie is open your door. If you're gracious host, they may be back again next week with two pies. What about the rest of the funnel? Those are the neighbors who either don't know you moved in yet or live on the other side of town. You can make an effort to befriend them all, but its not easy-as-pie.
If you follow Drake's path and "start from the bottom," you'll be here.
However, if your front door looks unwelcoming, with its paint chipping, bell broken and hinges rusty, you can kiss that pie goodbye before you can say "Would you like a slice?" That's why it's essential to keep the door's paint fresh, bell loud (maybe add a brass knocker as well) and hinges squeaky clean. The front door in this scenario is your marina's website homepage. Don't have a website your marina can call home? Create a free Facebook business profile instead - it'll be your front door, mailbox, and entertainment space, with just a few clicks of a mouse.
To make sure your neighbors continue to come through your door with pie, you need a clean, reservation-centric homepage (a painted door), multiple types of contact info (a working bell and knocker) and an online reservation form (rust-free hinges).
The most important of these three is the online reservation form. Neighbors who really want to deliver that pie, and are not turned off by your ugly door and inability to get your attention, still won't be able to make their special delivery if the darn door just won't open. So, when repairing your door, start with the hinges - without them, your door is just a glorified wall.
Looks like this homeowner isn't expecting any pie deliveries...
An online reservation form minimizes steps needed to book at your marina, both for you and your boater. It also keeps the transaction on the boater's terms, which signals your flexibility and hospitality. An online reservation accommodates the boater's schedule, as it's available to use 24 hours a day. A quarter of Dockwa reservations are requested outside of business hours, so we know that this flexibility is boater-appreciated. Remember, these are the boaters with their hands hovering above their wallets - they are close to handing that cash over to you, so it's best to keep them happy.
The online reservation form helps you out too. It's not only the smoothest set of door hinges, but an instant summary of who the person on your doorstep is and how many people their pie can feed. The boater benefits from a timely method of reservation requesting, without the back and forth of email or waiting for you to pick up the phone. You benefit from knowing all you need to know about the boater so that there's no question about whether or not you should open your door to them.
And the best place for a reservation form? The "front door" of your website - your homepage. Don't make your neighbor go searching around the back of your house for the porch door because you don't really use the front door. The majority of boaters coming to your site will be looking for reservation information so it's best to make that info as easy as possible to find.
If, for whatever reason, your homepage is not designed to aesthetically accommodate an embedded reservation form, a well-optimized reservation landing page will do. Just be sure to make it super clear on your homepage where your boater should click to make a reservation. Think of it like putting a sign on your front door directing visitors to your porch door. Edgartown Harbormaster does a good job at this. While their homepage is dominated by a welcoming, full-screen image, the user doesn't have to scroll to see where to make a reservation. Two front-door signs direct them immediately to the reservation landing page.
With new hinges and a fresh coat of paint, all your front door needs is a working bell and loud brass knocker. Place your marina's phone number and email address in the footer of your website, as this is where most users will instinctively look for contact information.
And with that, you've got a pie-optimized front door! These simple updates to your website will ensure that boaters eager to book your marina can, and will let you spend time winning over those neighbors further down the street...because they too make a great pie.
Did you know that all Dockwa marinas can embed an online reservation form on their website for free? We'll even walk you through how to add it to your homepage. Click here to create your marina's free Dockwa listing, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request assistance in adding the reservation form to your site.
By: Katharine Kirk
Published on 5/18/18 3:09 PM