By Christopher Baird
There's a lot of talk in the self-storage industry about the importance of getting people to a facility or business website. Search-engine optimization (SEO), search-engine marketing (SEM), pay-per-click (PPC) and every other acronym related to Web marketing are always part of the discussion. Each plays a critical role in obtaining customers online. While the first step is building an SEO-friendly website, followed by SEM, the final step is rarely talked about—converting website visitors into renters.
Getting people to your self-storage facility is not as easy as it once was. It used to be that if you built it, customers would come. It wasn’t much different online. About 15 years ago, if you developed a website, you could be on the front page of a search engine in 60 seconds or less. Today, just as a storage facility needs marketing to bring in more customers, a website needs the same attention.
A website will not perform well simply because it exists. I speak to a lot of self-storage operators who just want someone to build them a website. They don't care how as long as it’s aesthetically pleasing. I also speak with operators whose only concern is to get good ranking. Even if you care about both, there's still a vital piece to consider: What happens once people get to your website?
Today you have to deal with billions of Web competitors, including many that offer online rental capabilities. How will you compete and convert visitors to renters?
How Is Your Website?
If you have a great website and are marketing it online, how is it doing? I don’t just mean where you rank in searches, maps, directories or on Facebook, I mean how many new visitors come to your site and how many of them become renters? Successful marketing means getting people to your website and converting them to customers. Following are a few questions to help improve your website in this area.
Is your website appealing? According to Google, recent research suggests that users decide to stay on or leave your site in just a few seconds. "This limited window of time in which to grab and retain a user's attention makes optimization crucial. By designing a website where users can quickly find what they want, you'll make it easier for them to reach the conversion page and take the action that means business results for you.”
Are you competitive? The Internet is largely price driven. Make sure what people see is enticing enough to look further. Offer a special that motivates them to buy right now, and make sure your special stands out on your website. Don’t force people to hunt down important information.
Is your website trustworthy? Offer quality content and keep your contact information visible so you can be reached whenever people are ready. Never advertise something that is not easily found on your website.
- Are there parts of your website that users find frustrating? Make your site easy to navigate so prospective customers don’t get lost or confused. Keep your layout clean and simple, with clearly marked navigation and links and consider your audience. Don’t rely on your view of how the website should function. What makes sense to you may not make sense to others.