Go mobile or go home!

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It’s what most digital marketing experts are saying — your message has got to be mobile in today’s marketplace.

EMarketer is projecting that by 2017, 51.2 percent of Americans will use their smartphones to make a purchase. Put another way, 95.1 million smartphone users will buy products via their phone.

It’s been dubbed “m-commerce” by experts such as eMarketer’s retail analyst, Yory Wurmser. He predicts that with smartphone screen sizes growing and mobile sites constantly getting better, it will be easier for consumers to make purchases in the palm of their hands.

Indeed, eMarketer expects sales on smartphones to exceed $75.5 billion, or half of all retail m-commerce sales in 2017. Conversely, this rise of purchases on smartphones will actually trigger a decline in m-commerce sales via tablets, down in 2017 to 48.7 percent from 50.6 percent this year.

I’m not suggesting here that dealers are going to sell boats via smartphones, albeit nothing’s impossible. I know a dealer — Bruce Roberts at Harbor North in Huron, Ohio — who has sold some small sailboats totally online, sight unseen by the buyers. And if his website had been mobile-ready, well, who can say the sales may not have come via a buyer’s smartphone?

But the real consideration for dealers is this: According to eMarketer, some 165.8 million Americans, age 14 and over, will browse, research and compare products on their smartphones this year. No one is saying they’ll complete the buy on the phones, but clearly the sales process will begin that way.

The goal, then, is for dealers to make certain their websites are mobile-friendly. Further, studies show that even though most email is opened on mobile devices these days, only about 11 percent of email marketing messages are being optimized for mobile.

To put it into perspective, eMarketer reports that m-commerce revenues in 2016 will represent nearly one-third (32 percent) of all e-commerce sales, but only 2.6 percent of total retail sales. For a marine dealer, the endgame isn’t selling via smartphones, but taking advantage of smartphone technology to provide product and service information that will lead the prospect to the showroom door.

Ask your web designer how mobile-friendly you are.

MIACC Kids’ Fishing Clinic

Kudos to the Marine Industry Association of Collier County on its upcoming Free Kids’ Fishing Clinic, slated for March 12 on the Naples, Fla., Municipal City Pier.

“Our Kids’ Fishing Clinics strive to achieve several goals,” explains Tiffany Sawyer, MIACC executive director, “but the main objective is to create responsible marine resource stewards by teaching children about the vulnerability of Florida’s marine ecosystems. In addition, we want to teach fundamental saltwater fishing skills and provide participants a positive fishing experience.”

MIACC teams up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to offer the free fishing experience for children ages 5 to 15. In addition, environmental displays offer participants a chance to experience Florida’s marine life firsthand.

The event is a photo catch-and-release activity, and an adult must accompany all participants. Each child gets a Shakespeare Fishing Combo outfit, too.

It’s the 19th year for this MIACC community outreach event, and any marine industry individual or company interested in helping sponsor this worthwhile event or volunteering at the clinic should call Tiffany Sawyer at (239) 682-0900 or email director@miacc.org.

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