Once you have answered these questions, you need to determine whether your website offers quality information that will allow prospective customers to make and act on a decision immediately. If you have the right content and offer the ability for them to choose a size but no way for them to reserve a unit, they may just move on to the next website that does. There are those who prefer to call your facility, but if you don’t offer a way for people to reserve online, you'll lose those potential sales. So why take that chance?
Your website should have the following as a basic set of tools:
- An interactive map so customers can find you
- A unit-size guide so they know what to rent
- Information about sizes and rates, and a way to reserve the unit online
- A short (and I mean very short) form for inquiries
- A phone number prominently displayed for those who are not ready to reserve online
How do you track and verify the effectiveness of your website? I don’t mean simply tracking Web visitors or search-engine ranking. Even though they are a part of the overall marketing equation, we're mostly interested in rental tracking here.
If you get 1,000 visitors to your website, isn’t that good? Just about anyone who understands the basics of Internet marketing can deliver 1,000 website visitors. The real question is, what are those visitors looking for and do they buy anything? What if you were paying for those visitors and they only purchased at one tenth of one percent? Is that good enough? What is the return on your investment for these visitors? These questions will help lead you to find the right answers.
For example, if you received 1,000 clicks to your website and paid $2 per click, you just spent $2,000. Some would stop here and say that's a good deal. However, you can’t determine how good a deal it was until you know how many rentals came from those clicks. It's a good deal only if you acquire each tenant at an acceptable cost per acquisition. If you end up with 20 rentals ($100 per rental), that may be a great deal for you; but if you only receive two rentals at $1,000 each, that doesn’t seem like a great deal after all.
In short, there are three things you need to do to successfully promote your website. First, build an SEO-friendly website that looks good enough to keep visitors engaged. Second, continuously market that website everywhere you can. Third, make sure the site functions well enough to convert at the highest possible percentage. Remember, if you can track the rental conversions back to the dollars you spent, you have yourself a roadmap to success.
Christopher Baird is the CEO of Tucson, Ariz.-based Automatit Inc., which offers full-service Web development and marketing services to self-storage companies nationwide. He has more than 15 years of experience in website marketing and search engine optimization. Prior to joining Automatit in 2001, he was a freelance Web designer. For more information, call 520.293.4608; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.automatit.net.