By Colton Joseph
Your self-storage business digital presence is absolutely essential in todays world of social networks, company blogs, search engines, mobile appsthe list keeps growing. Everyone and everything is moving online, and that makes for a very crowded and competitive space. If youre stumped on how to set your self-storage facility apart in this online frontier, this guide is for you.
The world of online content changes daily. Its a constant battle to keep your app or website at the top. How can you build something that will last? This article is meant to give you a few ideas on how to modernize your self-storage website for the future.
I Dont Need a Website
Some or even most of your self-storage business might come from aggregators, local business listings through search engines or even companies like Yext. Makes sense. These are great solutions for increasing brand reach and sales. In fact, I recommend using their services. But consider this: Would you rather your reputation as a company be dictated solely by third-party websites, or would you like a say? It would be wise to establish your online presence now, while you still can.
Relying on aggregators and listings too heavily could leave your reputation up for grabs down the road. Its extremely important to build your online brand through your own digital content in addition to these aggregators and listing agencies. Using both your own website and aggregators/listings to facilitate your services will give you the most effective long-term results.
Understanding Website Importance in Digital Marketing
The modernization of self-storage websites and networks is more vital now than ever before. With record numbers of consumers moving online to shop and search, it only makes sense to shift to a digital strategy for brand-building and advertising.
A very specific strategy must be in place to create a cost-effective plan. The biggest, most common mistake made by companies is having a poorly built website while focusing exclusively on paid-search advertising, business listings, mobile ads, etc. Many great digital-marketing strategies fail because of this one major flaw. Its like picking berries with no basket to hold them.
Your website is your virtual facewhere it all begins and ends. Very few digital-marketing campaigns will ever be successful with a landing page or a website thats poorly designed or lacks the ability to help convert leads into revenue. Every campaign, social media post or business listing is a mere extension of your home website. They represent the roots that extend to your target audience from your official site.
Ask yourself, what is the first thing someone does when they hear about your company? We all know: They Google it. So, what do you want them to see?
Customers Found Me, Now What?
Assuming you have a sound digital strategy thats bringing you customers, what happens when they actually arrive? Do you want them to see an outdated 1990s website with hard-to-read fonts, complicated navigation, old phone numbers or any other issues? Of course not! People want to see clean, organized content thats readable and to the point. No one cares about flashy Web annoyances like odd noises, fancy graphics, pop-ups and the myriad of other attention-getters that ironically tend to push customers away. Dont go there.
The successful websites all have one common theme: user friendliness. I like to call it the Goople effect, coined from trendsetters Google and Apple. Curious? Take a look at their websitesintuitive, easy to use and clean. In fact, these modern websites are much easier to build than the older fancy layouts so, really, everyone wins. Key aspects like white space, flat colors, dynamic content and large focus areas draw readers attention to specific sections of your website and give that modern Web 2.0 feel.
Make Content and Speed Count
Although this is common sense, you would be surprised how many companies suffer from this simple conceptspeed. Short loading time for your self-storage website is absolutely essential for a variety of reasons. Most important, if it takes longer than 10 to 15 seconds to load, most users will go elsewhere and youve already lost them.
Tip: Website caching can sometimes help load times as well as lazy loading (which loads some content as it comes into view rather than all the content at the beginning) and other tricks. This is where youll need to rely on a Web developer to ensure your website loads promptly. Dont ever accept a website that loads slowly.
Does your website match your targeted customers needs? When building your websites content, you need to consider your digital-advertising strategy. What are your keywords? Who are you targeting? The more relevant your website is to prospects, the more you will convert, plain and simple.
Tip: Long-tail marketing is a term used to describe keywords that are longer and specific to individual customers. For instance, Gated Self-Storage Locations in Greeley Colorado. This is a long-tail keyword and considered to be very precise and accurate, giving you a better chance to obtain higher conversion rates. Why? Because the online traffic that reaches your website will more likely have an interest or a need for those products/services.
However, the volume of people you may target will be drastically reduced, so youll need far more of these long-tail combinations to keep up with the reach results that broad terms like self-storage will generate. These long-tail keywords will produce high-quality and relevant leads for your landing pages, so its highly recommended.
Add Keywords Within Content
If your digital-advertising budget includes funds for Google or Yahoo!/Bing, make sure youre matching your content to your ads. Building an effective keyword list can take time. It can also change with seasons, world events, new products and other variables. Take the time to use in-house teams or outsource this type of work to create a list of terms that will generate a balance of customer volume and relevant queries.
Keywords should then be embedded naturally within your websites content to match your advertisements. Your content should also be updated to reflect any changes you make in your digital ads. Dont overuse keywords either, as this may have a negative effect on customers and search engines. Remember, your content should read naturally.
Provide Instant Support
Depending on your business model, live chat can be a huge boost in customer satisfaction. Think about it this way: Do you want your customer to hold on the phone or in a chat box? Live chats are just a click away, no dialing required. They also allow the user to continue working or doing whatever he wants while waiting for a live agent.
Another perk to using live-chat support is the digital paper trail it leaves. You can pick star performers from your support staff, review customer conversations and so much more. A word of caution: Choose your chat representatives carefully. Its vital to invest in quality personnel who will represent your company in an ever-positive, professional light.
If They Cant Read It, They Wont Buy It
Theres nothing to stop users from leaving immediately, whether its poorly written content or hard-to-read fonts. While it may seem fancy and unique to use a snazzy font, be sure your users can read your content without straining. Otherwise theyll click that little X in the upper right corner and move on. You may be nodding your head, Yeah, yeah, but really, use the best fonts available that encourage reading.
Get rid of clutter on your website and unnecessary images and content. Whitespace is one of the hottest trends in Web design today. The more whitespace you include, the more you can focus visitors attention on specific sections of your website. People also want to read as little as possible. They want everything fast and easy. Keep this in mind when building lengthy content and use as much brevity as possible.
Include Short-Page Depth
Customers want to get to the checkout page quickly once theyve made their decision. They dont want to navigate to six different pages and accept two different terms and conditions before they reserve their unit. Make the transaction process convenient and speedy with limited page loads.
Keep Color Minimal
As a general rule of thumb with modern websites, white colors (or shades) should account for 75 percent of your website, give or take. The other 25 percent should be used to highlight areas or draw the readers attention to a certain section. Dont get carried away with color palettes. Keep it simple. A large, green button on a white background is much more enticing than a green button on a multicolored sidebar with other colored buttons above and below it. You get the idea.
Dont Forget Mobile
Your website must be compatible with all devices. Dont be caught behind the pack in a few years when you essentially have to have a mobile website. Act now. This includes tablets and mobile devices of all screen sizes. Ensure that whatever theme the Web designer has chosen is responsive and mobile-friendly. With users gravitating toward their phones more and more, this will be essential in creating longevity for your website.
SEO Is a Must
Although weve touched on keywords and a few other SEO aspects already, its important to note that this is a very broad category. There are dozens of techniques for improving SEOadding image titles and captions, using alt and title tags, keyword matching and so much more. Hire a competent SEO agency to handle your optimizing, which will improve your organize search results.
Your Goal: User Friendliness
You want your user experience to the best it can be. Make browsing your products intuitive, easy and obvious, and have accurate information for listings and services. You want it to be engaging and simple. Place buttons in areas where people tend to look for them. Draw users attention to the large checkout button once theyve added something to their cart. The list goes on and on. Make it easy on people. After all, we stare at these screens all day long, folks.
Whats the Cost?
Building a professional website using all of the guidelines mentioned above isnt as expensive as you might think. Freelance designers and agencies will charge anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 or more depending on the project scope. Its even reasonable to assume you would make this money back in just a few months from your increased conversion rates, boosted traffic flow and through removing costs associated with middle-men like aggregators.
Heres one last, revealing piece of informationusers care more than ever what a website looks like and how intuitive it is. There are great services out there with poor websites. They may still convert clients, but I guarantee theyre missing out on a huge chunk of potential customers who walk away after one glimpse. Dont be that company. Capitalize on the online medium by making it work for you, not against you.
Colton Joseph is the director of marketing and design for Supernova Digital Media. He has more than 12 years of experience developing and designing websites for clients and eight years operating broad-spectrum, digital-marketing campaigns in a variety of industries. Hes an entrepreneur at heart, having founded three companies in the last three years. He helps startups and small businesses through strategic online marketing and Web design. To reach him, call 866.866.9923; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.supernovadm.com .