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Improving Self-Storage Customer Acquisition: Can They Hear You Online?

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By Matt Cook

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series on improving customer acquisition.

Ensuring your self-storage value proposition gets in front of potential customers has never been more challenging. The marketing phrase “signal to noise” is all about making sure your message doesn’t get lost among the competition. Twenty-five years ago, communicating brand messages to customers was relatively straightforward. After all, the number of marketing channels available to reach them could be counted on both hands. But in 1990, Sir Tim Berners-Lee changed all that. The World Wide Web opened up a whole new avenue of customer engagement.

In this first installment on improving customer acquisition, we’ll look at the bare essentials of marketing self-storage to a connected metropolitan world. Let’s start with the most essential marketing tool—your website.

“Self-storage in the United Kingdom began embracing the Web around the year 2000, and it’s been nonstop ever since,” says John Milton, director of ABC Selfstore, a London-based self-storage operator that celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. “When we thought we had websites nailed, along came online sales and booking. Then social networking appeared, providing the opportunity for customers to share experiences and opinions. Just as we all got our heads around that, tablets and smartphones changed our lives again by making the whole lot instantly accessible.”

In 2014, we carry our world in our pockets. At the swipe of a screen or swirling sine wave of a voice search, the information we need is instantly at our fingertips. A business website is still important, but it should be part of a much wider online strategy. The impetus is on self-storage operators to evolve with technology and changing consumer habits.

“If you’ve had to pinch and scroll your way around a fixed-sized site on your smartphone, you know how irritating it can be,” notes Milton. “The latest ‘responsive’ sites change shape to suit the screen they’re being used on, meaning users stay longer and find interacting easier.”

Having a website that caters to users across many platforms is essential, but you also need to ensure prospective customers find it. A properly developed site will incorporate core structural elements that optimize it for search engines. However, optimization is not the black art some would have you believe. Focusing on and investing in quality content should be at the heart of your strategy to secure your place in search rankings.

“You’ll frequently hear Web experts say, ‘content is king.’ What they mean is that quality, useful and up-to-date information on your site is critical,” says Milton. “It must be structured and informative, but keeping it fresh, friendly and engaging can be the difference that puts you ahead of your competition.”

Ultimately, self-storage operators must back up the value propositions they are communicating. In today’s world, consumers have a powerful voice and aren’t afraid to vocalize their dissatisfaction. Meeting and exceeding customer expectations is smart business and can enhance your online reputation.

“More important than the effort that goes into promoting what you do online is living up to the promises you are making,” explains Milton. “If you say your customer service is great, make sure it is. If you say you offer the best value, make sure you do. And treat others how you’d like to be treated yourself. We’ve always found that goes a long way.”

Matt Cook is a representative of ABC Selfstore, a U.K.-based self-storage operator with three London facilities. Founded in 1993, the company is a family-owned, independent business. For more information, visit www.abcselfstore.co.uk.

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