Self-Storage and the Mobile Revolution: Making the Change to Capture More Customers

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By RK Kliebenstein

Everybody likes sausage, but no one wants to see how it’s made. The same goes for self-storage marketing. Everybody wants new rentals, but few want to do the work necessary to get there ... And for good reason: It’s tough!

In 2012, what will you commit to increase your rentals? How will you target the next wave of consumers in the “pick it and click it” world? If you’re smart, you’ll allocate time and dollars to building and optimizing a mobile-friendly website.

The Rise of Smartphones

There’s no denying 2011 was a banner year for smartphones. Here are some interesting facts from Larry Hanks, principle of The Storage Group, a website-development company that helps self-storage operators optimize their websites for mobile devices:

  • Smartphone sales to end users reached 115 million units in the third quarter of 2011, up 42 percent from the third quarter of 2010.
  • Sequentially, smartphone sales slowed to 7 percent growth from the second quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2011.
  • Smartphone sales also accounted for 26 percent of all mobile-phone sales, growing only marginally from 25 percent in the previous quarter.

Here’s another statistic: There are more than 350 million active users (44 percent) currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices. This group is twice as active on Facebook as non-mobile users, according to official statistics released in November from Facebook.

Mobile Technology Fun Facts from Larry Hanks of The Storage Group***In addition, there are 5.3 billion mobile subscribers (that's 77 percent of the world population). Growth is led by China and India. Many mobile Web users are mobile-only, meaning they do not or rarely use a desktop, laptop or tablet to access the Web. Even in the United States, 25 percent of mobile Web users are mobile-only.

Optimizing Your Website for Mobile

Now that you know the mobile-phone market is for real, what are you doing about it? Traditional websites with graphics and embedded text do not display well on smartphones. The smartphone user wants the information fast and simple, and wants to be able to transact just as though he was sitting in front of a desktop. In general, self-storage operators have been slow to offer their inventory on the static website, let alone on a mobile site.

“It’s clear consumers are increasingly making smartphones and tablet devices a part of their lives,” Hanks says. “With more mobile devices being used every day, right when consumers are making their purchase decisions, it’s critical to have a smartphone-optimized website to promote your business. We see with our current clients, on average 15 percent of visitors to their websites do so through mobile technology, and this figure is trending higher very quickly, as much as 25 percent in some cases.”

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