There are four steps to making the most of your self-storage business via the Internet. First, you’ve got to have a high-quality product or service to sell. The second step is to design a website that sells. In the storage business, this means having one that convinces people to call or visit your facility. Step three is to drive traffic to your website. Finally, you have to “close” on those prospects your website generates, creating rentals.
If you have a quality facility and treat people like gold when they rent from you, you’ve got steps one and four covered. This article will help you with two and three.
A Site That Sells
Before you start driving traffic to your website, you’ve got to design a site that sells. There are four major reasons self-storage websites don’t work:
1. The site has a “me” orientation.The site is primarily concerned with showing the visitor how big and important you and your facility are. Frankly, your potential customers couldn’t care less. The only thing they’re interested in is their storage needs and how you can meet them, not the fact you’ve been in business for 23 years or have 21 facilities all over the county.
A better approach is to create a site focused on customers’ needs and wants. It should help potential renters see why your facility is the best choice when compared to competitors. Check every claim on your website. After each sentence, ask yourself, “Who cares?” If you don’t have a good answer, remove it. Put yourself in the mind of your prospects to determine what they want to know. The information your website contains should assist customers, not cater to the owner’s ego.
2. The site uses the facility name as its headline.Most self-storage websites use a facility’s name for a headline. Though this may seem like the logical choice, it does not advance the proposition you’re presenting to potential customers. Few web surfers go further than a site’s first page, so if you can’t convince them to contact you there, you’ve lost the business.
The better approach here is to put your most critical information first, that which will convince customers to make an additional inquiry—or a buying decision, if the site offers online rental options. Instead of your facility name, emphasize your biggest benefit, otherwise known as your unique selling proposition.
3. Failure to use the interactive nature of the media.Some self-storage websites appear to have done little more than convert their facility brochures to a web format. But the Internet has an interactive nature that should be exploited to your benefit, so create opportunities to that end.
Encourage surfers to get answers to their questions by clicking certain links or buttons that will lead them to new areas of your site. People investigating self-storage want to know where your facility is located, so provide them a map. Using the web, you can even incorporate features that will allow them to get driving directions from their starting point. A final note: Do not list prices on your website. The purpose of the site is to get people to call or visit. You can discuss cost when you get them on the phone or face to face.
4. Failure to ask for action.In addition to providing web surfers important information they need to make their self-storage decision, focus your website on the specific action you want them to take. “A confused mind always says no,” and the adage holds true when it comes to websites, too. You want people to call or visit your facility, so make that clear on your website and create a compelling reason for them to do so. For example, entice them to enter a contest or “spin” a virtual wheel to receive a prize. Make it fun to do business with you.
Drive Traffic to your Site
There is a plethora of ways to drive traffic to your site. Here are four of the most successful:
1. Your domain name.This refers to your site’s URL, not the name of your facility. And, no, these should not be the same. Your domain should be easy to remember, spell, and relate to your area and business. Your best choice is something that includes your city name and “self-storage.” For example, if you live in Oshkosh, use www.oshkoshselfstorage.com. This method for choosing domain names will allow you to benefit from “type-in traffic.” This includes visitors who assume a business will have a domain name that makes logical sense for the area in which they are searching.
2. Pay-per-click search engines.It pays to drive traffic to your site in other ways, including the use of search engines such as google.com. Web surfers use search engines to find what they seek. The higher you can rank on an engine’s list, the faster customers will land on your website. Past columns have covered this topic in greater detail. Suffice it to say a competent webmaster should be able to walk you through the process.
3. Linking.One of the ways to get ranked higher on a search engine is to get other websites to link to your own. Make an effort to get other self-storage companies to link to your site. You can also approach other businesses, such as realtors and moving companies in your area and the local chamber of commerce.
4. Blogging.One of the most effective ways to get people to your website is to start a “blog,” a concept popularized by the political pundits of the world. Derived from “web log,” it refers to a journal available on the web. It’s easily modified and will help search engines index your site more quickly. If you use a blog, consistently update it, filling it with key words that relate to your specific market and storage concerns in general.
You may have noticed I didn’t mention search-engine optimization. Why? It’s a moving target and often very expensive. At a minimum, you’ll need to make sure your key words appear in the appropriate places in your source code. If that sounds Greek to you, don’t worry—your webmaster can handle this, too.
Your marketing efforts should include paying consistent attention and care to your website. You should already have an outstanding facility and offer great service. Now you want to concentrate on two things: designing a website that sells and driving traffic to the site. It’s the best way to make the most of self-storage on the Internet.
Fred Gleeck is a profit-maximization consultant who helps self-storage owners/operators during all phases of the business, from the feasibility study to the creation of an ongoing marketing plan. He is the author ofSecrets of Self Storage Marketing Success—Revealed!, available for purchase at www.selfstoragesuccess.com. He is also the producer of professional training videos on self-storage marketing. To receive his regular insights via e-mail, send a blank message to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, call 800. FGLEECK; e-mail email@example.com; visit www.fredgleeck.com.