Data Tracker: Boat-search mobile app gains traction

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Websites such as BoatTrader.com have, for some time now, established strong traffic among boaters searching on their PCs for new boats, pricing info or other data relating to possible boat-sales transactions. Site traffic follows the seasons, with July as the usual high-water mark and December being the low point. At BoatTrader.com, that's a swing from more than 2 million unique visitors in summer months to about 1 million at year's end. But would boating enthusiasts also conduct boat searches on their iPhones?

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BoatTrader.com launched an iPhone app a year ago, and 12 months later, the answer is yes. From a standing start of 1,447 unique visitors in October 2009, that number has multiplied more than tenfold to more than 17,000 in the last year. That's only about 1.5 percent of overall site traffic, but it seems likely that the number will keep rising. Although July was BoatTrader.com's largest traffic month, iPhone app unique visitors didn't peak until August at about 25,000.

Would visitors search with the app and then ask dealers for more information? Again, the answer is yes. In the last 12 months, approximately 200,000 visitors have sent 9,407 leads to boat dealers, a 4.7 percent rate - very close to the 4.9 percent rate of the 16-million-plus visitors to BoatTrader.com so far in 2010.

As a side note, when the app was launched, it could be downloaded to the iPhone or iPod Touch. But, by springtime, a third device entered the picture with the emergence of the iPad. As of April, 89 percent of page views were on iPhones, 11 percent on the Touch, and just half a percent on iPads. By October, the iPhone had 85 percent, the Touch had 10 percent and the iPad had 5 percent.

John Burnham is editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.

This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue.

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