By Criss Marshall
Digital marketing has become complicated for self-storage operations. Knowing who you want to reach, what you want to tell them and what you want them to do is just the beginning. Knowing which channels to use to give them the most relevant information is another challenge.
To compete in today’s market, facility operators must get their content in front of their most important audiences at the right time, in the right place and with the right messaging.
First, what do we mean when we talk about content? It includes images, videos or written pieces that educate and inform current or future self-storage tenants. Content should create micro-moments of engagement with your audience. Consider these opportunities:
- Blog posts on new facility features or perks
- Press releases, industry featurettes and other off-page search engine optimization (SEO) tactics
- Facility videos and pictures
- Customer testimonials
- Discounts, offers and specials
- Onsite events
A robust content strategy involves the planning, development and execution of material that’s relevant to your target users. So how does a self-storage operator begin to approach the development of this strategy? Here are a five steps to guide you.
Step 1: Establish Goals
Determine what you want to accomplish with your content. Some goals might include increasing website traffic and leads, or developing a reputation as a secure facility in your market. You then need to set benchmarks and objectives for each of these metrics. After all, how will you know if you’re improving your digital presence through content?
Tailor your content and calls to action based on the metrics you’d like to improve. For example, if you want to increase video tours, create a call to action that says, “Take a video tour.”
Step 2: Identify Your Audience
Now that you know what you want to accomplish with your content, you can identify who you want to target. Knowing your audience is tremendously helpful in crafting what your content will look like and how it will encourage preferred actions. You want to be sure you’re reaching who your audience really is today. Consider these questions:
- What does your audience look like? For example, what’s the age, gender, education or household income of your desired customer?
- What are they interested in, and what behaviors or actions do they take online?
- What life stage are they in, or what major life events have impacted their purchasing?
- Are there industry influencers you would like to engage with your content?
Step 3: Choose Your Distribution Channels
You now know who you’re speaking with and what you want them to do. It’s time to choose how you’ll reach them. By honing in on the most important communication channels, you’ll be able to define the messages you want to convey and how. Consider your audience’s media-consumption preferences and how you can meet them with your content. Here are some considerations:
Search engines. More than 97 percent of consumers use search engines to research products and services. Is your company appearing at this important step? You need to create content that will help your site display in relevant search engine results. Use SEO tactics such as advertising, blogs, link-building and rich media to show up when it’s most important
Social media. These websites have become a major media channel for many self-storage tenants. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube are the most popular platforms. Do you have pictures or videos you can share to engage your audience?
Online reviews. More than 88 percent of business-to-business and business-to-commercial buyers have been influenced by online reviews on sites like Google+ or Yelp. Make sure each of your social-review profiles on these sites reflects the best possible nature of your company and encourages positive perceptions. You can do this by posting pictures, filling in accurate information about your business, and responding to positive and negative reviews
Link everything. Connect your digital marketing channels so prospects get a holistic view of your business. Link your Facebook or Google+ pages to your website and vice versa. This helps your website show up in relevant searches on the search engine results page.
Step 4: Create Your Content
Based on your ideal goals, target audiences and the channels you’ll be using to share, you can begin developing and aggregating the content you want to distribute. Consider the following:
- Are you already creating content that can be used for new digital channels? Are there pre-existing assets, such as a company brochure or handout, which can be repurposed on digital channels?
- Can you share content from relevant industry publications or thought leaders to provide credibility to your content strategy?
- Do you have fans who are creating content that you can tap into and share with your community?
- Consider media types that tell the best story. Will a high-definition picture convey your message or is a video the best format?
Step 5: Measure, Analyze and Adjust
As with any sound marketing strategy, it’s important to develop a feedback loop so you can understand how your content is performing and adjust accordingly. Measurement and analysis is as, if not more, important than any other element of your content strategy because it helps keep the other steps aligned in a forward motion. Follow this advice to assess your efforts:
- Pick metrics to measure such as clicks or click-through rate, content engagement, or onsite activity.
- Compare performance against your goals to see how your content is resonating with your target audience.
- If you’re not seeing increases in valuable business actions after launching your content, adjust the strategy around what you’re sharing and refocus on achieving measurable results against your goals.
The above elements comprise the foundation for a sound content strategy. Insight will be found along the way. As you get better at sharing content, your goals may change with the way prospects find and research your company.
As you develop the substance of your strategy, the most important thing to remember is it should be constantly evolving. It’ll be impossible to know which content will resonate and which will fall flat until you share it and analyze the results. Keeping an open mind and an eye on what performs well will position you to find success.
Criss Marshall is vice president of marketing for G5, a provider of Digital Experience Management software and marketing services for the self-storage industry. She’s responsible for all aspects of G5’s marketing including brand management as well as corporate and product marketing. For more information, call 800.656.8183; visit http://getg5.com.