By Christopher P. Baird
When it comes to a website, success can mean different things to different people. In self-storage, it generally relates to a website’s ability to generate rentals. For the purpose of this article, we’ll define a successful website as one that places well in searches, is found on major consumer-used websites, generates visits from potential customers, has the ability to convert visitors into paying customers.
To be successful, a website requires proper development, including the application of certain techniques in the site’s design (the way it looks), layout (the way it functions) and content (what it says and the way it sells). Many websites get one or even two of these elements correct, but without all three, there isn’t much hope. Would you sit on a three-legged stool with only two legs? The same logic should be applied to your website. Anything less than a complete effort will be in vain.
Your ongoing marketing efforts are also critical to the website’s success. You’ve probably heard terms such as search-engine optimization (SEO), search-engine marketing (SEM), Internet marketing and others. These have different meanings, of course, but most people use them synonymously.
First, let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of developing your facility’s website. Then we’ll discuss ways of marketing it to target audiences.
Developing Your Website
Over the past 10 years, the Web has changed dramatically. We’ve been through several versions of website code, screen-resolution increases, Internet-speed increases and more browser types and versions than anyone probably expected. These days, websites must be viewable in all browser types and on mobile devices. They must look good in various screen resolutions, and they can contain many more graphics and colors to stand out and prompt action. This is all prior to creating website code that’s necessary to tell search engines about your site content.
If you think this seems like a lot, it is, but it’s all necessary. I’ve heard SEO companies make statements such as, “It doesn’t matter what your website looks like. It only matters that it gets seen.” To that I ask: How many times do you walk by a piece of trash before you pick it up and take it home? My guess is “never” or “I might take it home, but I would never use it.”
The same is true for your website. Even if users find it, it must be professional-looking and contain the appropriate content and sales process to prompt action and close the deal. Here are some tips for the development stage:
- Make your website aesthetically pleasing with a polished and professional look.
- Organize information so the next desired action is easily identifiable and available when the user is ready to move forward.
- Use repetition; provide multiple opportunities to find important information about your facility.
- Use contrast to make specific items stand out from the rest.