Once upon a time, lead aggregators established their place in the self-storage industry. This was back when the Internet was young, the barriers to entry were more expensive, and facility operators still relied on the Yellow Pages for advertising. Because the storage industry is historically slow to adopt new technologies, aggregators could position themselves as a cost-effective way for a business to gain a Web presence.
Today, many facility operators are still reliant on these lead sources. But at what cost? And how qualified are the leads being generated? Here are four truths about lead aggregators:
- You’re paying to compete with yourself. Lead aggregators are your competition on organic search results queries and paid ad positioning. This is because they bid competitively on popular industry keywords and even on branded terms. This results in your business showing lower on the search engine results and your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns having a higher cost per click.
- Aggregators provide quantity over quality. Often, consumers use aggregators to shop without having an intent to buy. Most high-intent shoppers—almost 65 percent—are instead clicking on digital advertising.
- You’re listed next to your competitors. Instead of directing your customers to take specific actions on your website, lead aggregators list you among your direct competitors. Alternatively, if you take leads directly to your website, you gain control over the conversation and their journey to lease.
- Aggregators can misconstrue your brand messaging. Your digital presence is your presence, and you need to take ownership. There’s no longer a distinction between your online and physical presence, so consistency is key.
Aggregators are no longer the most efficient way to get leads. In fact, many other industries such as airlines, hotels, etc., regret letting them infiltrate the trade. Why? Because aggregators discount a company’s brand image, compete with it for traffic, and ultimately it pay a fee for unqualified leads. So, how do you reduce your reliance and budget spend on aggregators? Invest in direct channels such a digital advertising and your website. Consider the following four tips to “wake up” your facility’s online presence.
Understand How Leads Get to Your Website
The buying process for self-storage is often last-minute and moves fast. One month before a move, only 55 percent of customers have begun to research storage, and only 44 percent have rented a unit. Even on the day of their move, though 99 percent have begun to research, only 89 percent have leased.
When prospects move into the consideration or purchase phase, they turn to Google to find the information they seek. However, Google tells us that 82 percent of prospects don’t have a particular company in mind when they start. This leaves a large opportunity to earn business by being in the right place at the right time.
Most people are searching mid-move, which means they’re looking from their mobile phone. Digital ads currently take up 100 percent of the mobile-search space, which means to show up, you must have a digital advertising strategy in place. This puts you in front of qualified customers during the most crucial micro-moments, whether they’re searching one month in advance or on the day of their move.
Incorporate ‘Near Me’ Keywords in Your PPC Campaigns
When it comes to self-storage, studies show that 75 percent of customers won’t venture farther than five miles from their home, and 90 percent won’t store beyond a 10-mile radius. Sometimes convenience plays an even bigger role than pricing in purchasing decisions.
“Near me” search queries are up 146 percent year-over-year. In fact, my company is seeing a 234 percent increase in “near me” ad clicks. As mobile use continues to rise, so will these types of searches. Again, if you want your property to show up on mobile devices for these queries, you need to optimize your digital advertising strategy.
Invest in a Conversion-Rate Optimization Website
Now that you’ve invested in digital advertising and directing prospects to your website, make sure it leads potential customers to a specific type of action. For users in research mode, provide a lighter call to action (CTA) such as “Get a Quote Today” or “Online Special” button. For visitors who are ready to buy, add a stronger CTA, such as a “Rent Now” toggle. These CTAs should be easy to find and take the user directly to the page they’re expecting.
Make Online Leasing Fast
In today’s mobile world, people want to make online purchases quickly, in as few clicks as possible, and preferably without having to make a phone call or visit an office. If you’re set up for online leasing, you can make this process seamless and easy.
In turn, this will increase your revenue and could potentially lower operating costs. Make sure users don’t have to dig too deep into your website to find your units and pricing. Ensure your navigation bar contains well-labeled links so customers can intuitively find what they’re seeking. Now’s the time to take control of your digital presence, drive more qualified traffic to your website, avoid lead-aggregator fees and add to your bottom line.
Ashleigh Hinrichs is the marketing campaign manager at G5, which provides Digital Experience Management software and marketing services to the self-storage industry. The company’s offerings include responsive-design websites, search engine marketing, social media, reputation management, lead tracking and management, analytics, and client-performance management. For more information, call 800.656.8183; visit www.getg5.com.