Here’s why boat dealers and brands should invest in influencer marketing and #boatlife influencers

influencer marketing in boat industry
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With an estimated spend of $10 billion this year alone and established brands like Nike investing more heavily, it's no surprise "influencer marketing" is beginning to pique interest in the boating industry. But can its success in fashion and fitness be replicated? Most definitely! Here’s why (and how) boat dealers and brands will be wise to invest in influencer marketing.

blonde influencer sitting on the front of a boat

Source: Unsplash

With social media becoming more saturated with content and the number of online buyers who use tools to block ads only increasing, getting your message across and engaging with your target audience has become a tough task.

Thankfully, influencer marketing has found a way to fill this gap. Influencers have since become the go-to resource for everything from beauty products to home DIY, car reviews and even living on boats (#boatlifers)!

As a matter of fact, a study reported in Adweek found that 49.3% of respondents had made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation and that 44.2% of respondents usually trust the recommendations from them.

The thing is, the boating industry has been slow to capitalize and not for lack of proven success. One of the industry’s most well-known influencers is Alex Jimenez, also known as “The Yacht Guy.” Jimenez is the person behind the biggest yachting social media page with over 850,000 followers! In an interview with Super Yacht Times, when asked if he thinks the boating industry is using social media to its fullest, he said:

“If we made a list of the top 10 super luxurious industries and how well they utilise social media, fashion would be at the top and yachting would be dead last. The good news is that the industry is getting more comfortable with the idea.”

From Instagram to Facebook to TikTok and YouTube, influencer culture is everywhere and the benefits of incorporating influencer marketing into your marketing plan are countless. So, we want to demystify this useful strategy and make it easy for you to give it a try.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how influencers can help you boost your business, how to work with them, the benefits and downsides of this kind of partnership, and finally the current opportunities for the boating industry.

But first things first, what exactly is an influencer?

According to well-known social media tool Sprout Social, an influencer is “someone in your niche or industry with sway over your target audience.”

It works similar to a celebrity endorsement, but without necessarily the celebrity status. As influencers are, in their majority, ordinary people who have built their own brand by creating content on a specific segment. It’s not another Hollywood celebrity being paid to push you products and that is exactly where their value lays.

They are more accessible and relatable than your traditional celebrities. Therefore, they are seen as a trustworthy source for quality recommendations.

Because they’ve already built a following of your ideal demographic with their content, you can save yourself some time and effort by partnering with them to access that engaged audience. You can focus on accomplishing your marketing goals instead of trying to scrape together your own multi-thousand or million-count following—something that tends to take years.

A couple of things are worth mentioning before moving forward. First of all, celebrities can still work as influencers and a lot of them do, like American singer Selena Gomez.

influencer marketing on instagram

Source: Instagram

Second, influencers are not only restricted to social media. Many of them actually run their own online publications (or “blogs”) and sometimes their own online businesses.

What are the specific benefits of working with an influencer?

No matter what you sell, when consumers receive positive reviews from someone they look up to and consider as an authoritative source, they are more likely to be persuaded and follow suit.

Here are some of the main advantages of partnering with influencers:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Boost sales
  • Reach new audiences
  • Reinforce credibility of your brand
  • Grow your social media following
  • Increase site traffic and ultimately improve your site’s ranking (SEO)

How much will influencer marketing cost you?

A variety of factors impact influencer marketing prices such as the influencer’s reach and engagement, the social media platform they use, and how many posts you intend to buy.

Recent reports show that on average influencers on the following platforms will charge:

  • Instagram Influencer pricing: $10 per 1000 followers
  • YouTube Influencer pricing: $20 per 1000 followers
  • Facebook Influencer pricing: $25 per 1000 followers

Influencers tend to be categorized by their follower count and divided into 4 main categories:

  • Mega-influencers (over 1 million followers): if you’re willing to pay the eye-watering price these influencers charge for a post, you’re guaranteed a tremendous amount of exposure for your brand. However, because their followers come from all sorts of backgrounds, it will be hard to identify the quality of the audience reached by your campaign. One of the most recognized mega-influencers is the beauty entrepreneur and media personality Kylie Jenner. A single post from her can cost you as much as $1 million!
  • Macro-influencers (100k - 1 million followers): this category of influencers usually have a large, but moderately engaged audience. They are a great choice for brands who want to focus on a target demographic that covers a broader range of interests. This level of influencer is good when you want to aim for both improved awareness and some sales—since the engagement of their followers tend to vary.
  • Micro-influencers (1k - 100k followers): the largest group of influencers, the micro-influencers are known for being experts in their niche and for having a very loyal and engaged audience. For that reason, they are the most effective in reaching their target consumers and that is why 77% of marketers plan to work with micro-influencers over other types. Although this category of influencers cost much less than the previous two, they are very passionate about their segment, therefore they might reject any offer if they feel it doesn’t align with their brand.
  • Nano-influencers (less than 1k followers): despite their low number of followers and, sometimes, the lack of production-quality of their content, these influencers have a high level of trust due to their close relationship with their followers. They represent a great choice for startups or small businesses with a low marketing budget.

What are the different ways to collaborate with an influencer?

Once you have decided on a budget and found the right kind of influencer for your brand, it’s time to think about what type of collaboration will work best for both of you. There are many ways you can partner with social media influencers and bloggers to achieve your marketing goals.

And it’s important to consider the values of your brand as well as the style and personality of your influencer, otherwise you risk losing his or her authenticity and end up with a failed marketing campaign.

Here are the most common types of collaborations:

  • Host giveaways: this is a great way to increase brand awareness, expand your social media following, and reach new audiences. Make sure you set clear tracking goals and abide by all legal requirements.
example of a giveaway on instagram

Source: Instagram

  • Sponsored posts: this is the most popular type of collaboration between brands and influencers. You simply pay them a fee, provide them with a briefing so they can create content for their social media channel or blog accordingly.
example of sponsored post on instagram Source: Instagram
 
  • Gifting or product seeding: this type of collaboration happens when you send influencers your product so they can test it out and hopefully give a positive review or even create content around it. This is a good way to build relationships with new influencers but because there are no contracts signed, there’s no guarantee that they will say good things about your product.
  • Social media takeover: another way to improve brand exposure, gain more followers, and ultimately boost conversions is to relinquish the reins of your social media platform to an influencer so they can create content and promote your brand from the perspective of a brand advocate and buyer.
  • Affiliate marketing: in this classic partnership influencers need to work hard to promote your product, since they only get paid when they drive traffic to your website and sometimes only once there’s a sale.
  • Brand ambassador: if you have an influencer who’s been promoting your product successfully for quite a while, maybe it’s time to take a step further and turn them into a brand ambassador. In other words, the face of your brand. Because this is a long-term marketing strategy where influencers commit themselves to creating content on an ongoing basis, it’s essential that you lay out a clear plan of what you expect from them in order to prevent future misunderstandings.
example of a brand ambassador on instagramSource: Instagram

Are there drawbacks to working with influencers and influencer marketing?

Despite its many benefits—and the fact that 80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective—just like any other marketing strategy it does come with challenges.

Because this is a fairly recent field, marketers are faced with two main challenges: finding the right influencer to partner with and tracking the return on investment of an influencer campaign.

Choosing the right influencer for your brand is a vital step and one that will take a lot of time. Here are the most important criteria to consider:

  • Niche: selecting an influencer in your industry is essential for the success of your campaign. Since they already speak with your target demographic, your message will be both appealing and relevant to them.
  • Metrics: verify their metrics as they will provide you with valuable information about the reach and engagement of the influencer as well as help you spot fake accounts.
  • Personality: yes, it’s important to have an influencer in your niche with great engagement, but if their personality doesn’t go hand in hand with your brand’s values, all your previous efforts will go down the drain.

You can search for your influencer manually, although this will require someone with a lot of free bandwidth, or you can use an influencer marketing platform.

BuzzSumo, HYPR, TRIBE, and Grin are platforms that allow you to look through their database of influencers and filter your search by reach, category, engagement, and social platforms. They also help with the challenge of measuring your marketing campaigns.

Speaking of measuring, as with any other type of marketing effort, influencer marketing is most valuable if you can measure it.

Statistics show that 89% of marketers find the return on investment from influencer marketing comparable to or better than other marketing channels. However, measuring and improving ROI has also been cited as the #1 challenge when it comes to working with influencers.

So, how exactly do you determine the ROI of your influencer marketing campaign? Before anything else, you need to start by setting clear goals for your campaign. What exactly do you want to achieve with this partnership? Are you looking for more brand visibility? Do you want to increase sales? Or are you looking to expand your email list?

When your goals are clearly defined right from the start, determining the success of your campaign will be much easier. This should apply to the less tangible components like brand-alignment and creativity, but also to measurable metrics. Metrics like impressions and engagement offer valuable information about the performance of your posts—you should pay particular attention to them.

Impressions show you the true reach of an influencer. It tells you how many people have viewed their post, while engagement shows the interaction users have taken with the post such as likes, comments, clicks, and shares. These tell you what type of content resonated best with their audience and how they reacted to it.

All this data can be found in the built-in analytics tools of Instagram, Youtube, TikTok etc., but you’d rely on the influencer to share it with you, or when using the aid of an influencer marketing platform as mentioned above.

Thing is, this usually is not enough. So, in order to estimate the true ROI of your influencer marketing campaign, you need to apply some other tactics.

  • Exclusive discount codes: provide a unique discount code for each influencer to share. That way you can easily track how fruitful your partnership with that influencer was.
  • Unique URLs: create a custom link for each influencer to track the direct traffic coming from his or her social media or blog post.

Is influencer marketing right for your dealership or brand?

As influencers concrete themselves as one of the fastest and most effective ways to reach new customers, raise brand awareness, and increase revenue, more and more companies have started allocating huge budgets to influencer marketing campaigns.

Studies show that the influencer marketing industry is set to reach $10 billion by the end of this year alone! As a comparison, this sector was worth only $2 billion in 2017.

But is influencer marketing suitable for any industry?

The truth is, any kind of business can benefit from working with influencers. As long as there is solid planning behind your campaign and good collaboration between your brand and the influencer.

That being said, there are a few industries that seem to be more prone to success in this marketing field. The fashion & beauty, health & fitness, and the travel & lifestyle industries are just a few sectors who are currently nailing it. In the fashion and beauty industry, for example, nearly 60% of companies now use influencers as part of their marketing mix.

A good example of a successful collaboration was when Nike joined forces with American YouTuber Casey Neistat in 2012. At the time, the multinational corporation wanted to promote its new product Fuelband, an activity tracker. They then asked him to make a movie about what it means to #makeitcount.

Instead of making a movie, Neistat spent the entire campaign budget by traveling the world with his friend Max until they ran out of money.

Of course, as a quality vlogger he documented their whole adventure. In the video, he shows what it means to make it count for him. The video turned out to be a tremendous success. As a result, sales increased and as of today, the video has over 30 million views.

 

Another perfect example of a brand that realized the true force of influencer marketing is the Swedish watchmaker Daniel Wellington (DW). DW doesn’t invest in traditional advertising. Instead, they rely solely on social media for their marketing campaigns. Their strategy? Simple.

Send free watches to micro-influencers all over the world in the fashion and lifestyle niche, on the condition that they show their product in any way they want. The brand also provides influencers with a custom discount code.

Their results were incredible! Brand exposure and sales skyrocketed.

From 2014 to 2015, Daniel Wellington saw a 214% increase in profits. By 2015, the $15,000 startup managed to leverage their brand and earn around $220 million in revenue. Three years later, Daniel Wellington was the brand with the most influencer mentions out of any other brand on Instagram. There were more than 20,000 mentions by 7,200 influencers.

daniel wellington watches instagram

Source: Instagram

But DW’s social strategy doesn’t end there.

They also encourage user engagement by promoting hashtag contests and rewarding them with a watch and a feature on their official Instagram page, which as of today, is about to reach 5 million followers—mutually valuable for influencers looking to grow their reach.

By repurposing user-generated content and giving influencers creative freedom, the brand found a way to get quality advertising that doesn’t feel pushy. They also saved time and money in creating original content.

user generated content on instagram

Source: Instagram

Despite being an exclusive niche, the boating industry also has its share of influencers. They’re just not as integrated into their own industry as their counterparts in the fashion, beauty and FMCG space. As mentioned above, one of the most well-known names is Alex Jimenez, also known as “The Yacht Guy.” Jimenez is the person behind the biggest yachting social media page in the industry.

On his Instagram page, which currently has over 850k followers, he shares daily pictures of private yachts available for sale or charter. But he’s not the only one!

boat influencers on instagram

Source: Instagram

Boating influencers span everything from fellow professionals like commercial fisherman, female-run yachting crews, and even couples who advocate for living full-time aboard, like the duo from Sailing La Vagabonde and Sailing Uma.

boat influencers on youtube

Source: YouTube

Australian couple Riley and Elayna have been documenting their journey aboard La Vagabonde on their YouTube channel as well as their Instagram pages since 2014.

Along the way, they have managed to get some partnerships to help fund their adventures. With Audible, as pictured below, and even a reduced price on their boat by a marketing manager who was already a fan of their sailing channel.

boat influencers on youtube 2

Source: Instagram

Another couple on a sailing adventure around the globe is Dan and Kika. Together with their sailboat Uma, a 1972 Pearson 36, they have visited 22 countries and sailed over 18 thousand nautical miles so far.

boat influencers on youtube 3

Source: YouTube

To help finance their #boatlife, they count on supporters as well as a handful of brands which have collaborated with them as they sail into the seven seas.

boat influencers on youtube 4

Source: Instagram

boat influencers 1Source: Sailing Uma Website

When it comes to influencer marketing, the boating industry still has a long way to go if it wants to take full advantage of its potential. The main challenges seem to be the exclusivity of the sector as well as the older consumer demographic.

However, there's been recent progress in the industry. Proof of that is that 2020 marked the first edition of the “Current Awards”. Aimed at building awareness of the social value influencers bring to brands and the industry, the ceremony was held in Miami and honored online influencers involved in the marine and boating sector.

So what’s the final call? To influence or not to influence?

With the number of social media users only increasing, 3.96 billion people as of July 2020 with more than 376 million new users since July 2019, translating to almost 51% of the total global population—and more people turning to these platforms as their primary way to pass the time and a trusted source of information, partnering with influencers has become a fundamental way to cut through the noise and speak directly with your target audience.

Whether you are a startup or an established brand, having an influencer marketing strategy can certainly expand your reach and take the good old word-of-mouth to a whole new level.

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