Video and Chat Options
There are a few bells and whistles you can also add to your website. Videos and live chat are two examples of powerful but free features. To display a video tour of your property, simply upload the video file to YouTube and then embed it on a page of your website. (When you’re viewing a YouTube video, a box to the right of the scene contains an “Embed” code you can copy and paste into your website’s HTML.) This will allow customers to watch the YouTube video without ever leaving your website.
You can also offer a live chat feature that will allow users to engage in chat sessions with your staff. There are various free solutions such as Volusion or LivePerson. This is a great tool for customers to get instant gratification for any questions without picking up the phone. The downside is you’ll need someone to monitor the site in case a customer initiates a chat session (at least during business hours).
Your Website and SEO
Finally, if you’re building your website from scratch, it’s easier to optimize it for search engines during the development period than to come back and make changes later. It’s critical to invest in a developer or consultant who has an understanding of search engines and search-engine optimization (SEO).
A high-caliber Web developer may have sufficient SEO knowledge to properly optimize your website, but these are a rare breed, so you’ll probably need to hire an SEO consultant to work with your developer. Together, they can build your website from the ground up, with search engines in mind.
If you decide to keep it simple and use a template website, it’s still smart to hire an SEO consultant to make sure everything is set up correctly. Search engines will deliver the highest volume of potential customers to your website, so your site must be search-engine friendly.
Chuck Gordon is the CEO and cofounder of SpareFoot.com, an online self-storage marketplace. SpareFoot is 100 percent performance-based with no setup or monthly fees. For more information, call 202.257.2111; visit www.sparefoot.com .
Show Off Your Facility Website Part II [Self-Storage Talk]