By Walt Denny
Internet searches are reaching all-time highs. Your self-storage facility’s website is crucial when making a great first impression with prospects online. However, technology and online behaviors are constantly evolving. Reap the rewards of an engaging and effective website by keeping the content fresh, using appealing visuals, and ensuring browser and mobile-device compatibility. You should also integrate social-media marketing efforts and focus on the user experience. These website tips can help make 2011 your best year yet.
Tip No. 1: Flash ForwardWe’ve all been to a website heavy on Flash elements, splash screens and other glitzy animations. Flash is an attractive, exciting way to grab attention, create a unique experience and use visuals to convey a message. However, before sprinkling your website with Flash, ask yourself, “How does this enhance my visitor’s experience?” Internet users expect to see websites that combine interactive elements like Flash with intuition. Instead of weighing down the speed and reliability of your facility’s website with too many animations, harness functional Flash elements to provide visual interest that optimizes the look, feel and navigation of your website.
Tip No. 2: Take a Page From the Print Playbook
The Web cannot replicate the feel of printed pages. As more people migrate from traditional press to online information, your storage facility’s website is challenged to welcome them with an easy transition. With the popularity of tablet devices such as the iPad, a design with print-like features allows visitors to easily explore your website’s information. Use headlines, captivating copy and storytelling to move readers through your website’s benefit-driven content for maximum impact.
Tip No. 3: Balance Design With EngineeringThe average user only views a few pages of your entire website during his visit. To make it more impactful, use a unique, fresh and friendly design. However, a layout change may not be enough. The ease of which visitors can interact with the site plays an equally large role. A balance of strong information architecture, usability engineering and design impact is best.
Tip No. 4: Mobile Web to Imitate Native AppsIn 2010, mobile Web use experienced new heights. Forty percent of American adults turned to the Internet via mobile devices at least once per day. Expect the number to continue rising through 2011 as new, Web-capable devices begin to flood the market. With 4.6 billion global mobile-phone owners, your self-storage website needs to look great on desktops, laptops, mobile devices and smartphones. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Instead, create a sleek, clean and easy-to-use design that looks and feels more like a smartphone application. Avoid cluttering the small screen with images and links. Mobile-friendly content such as facility brochures or slide shows are a superb way to showcase your offerings and can be easily rendered for mobile devices.
Tip No. 5: Win With Word of MouthFacebook, Twitter and YouTube have experienced astonishing growth in impressions and user bases. While social media is a great way to share news about your business, it’s foremost about dialog. To increase your chances of social marketing success, conversationalize your marketing by weaving your social media accounts, blogs, microsites, press rooms, etc., onto your homepage. Move website visitors into your marketing funnel by encouraging them to visit your other online initiatives, and then share your information with their online peers.
Your self-storage website doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles to attract attention. Instead, focus on the five tips above to make a great first impression online with your current and future tenants.
Walt Denny is president of Walt Denny Inc., a full-service public-relations, advertising and marketing agency specializing in the home-products arena, digital marketing and social media. Denny has worked in the advertising/public-relations agency business for 35 years. His company works with a national client base to building positive brand awareness through individualized strategies. For more information, visit www.waltdenny.com.