Modern consumers, including your potential self-storage tenants, are increasingly going online to research products and services. It generally starts with a location-specific search, and then moves to comparison shopping on facility websites or online marketplaces. So what information are these shoppers actually looking for?
Info on Your Own Website
Ensure the right information about your facility is readily available and easy to find online. The more useful information you make public, the more comfortable customers will be with the prospect of calling your facility or booking a reservation online. By the same token, avoid contributing to the information overload Internet users constantly face. This means scaling back on unnecessary content, and keeping your site clearly organized to guide customers toward what they seek.
When it comes to your own website, organize information intuitively. Feature the most basic location and contact details prominently on the homepage. If you list your unit inventory online, make it easy for visitors to find and use the search function.
Ideally, you should implement a system that accepts unit reservations directly through the website. If you dont prefer to take reservations online, at least feature a lead form that will allow visitors to submit their contact information and needs. Then plan to quickly follow up via phone or e-mail.
List all of your amenities and details in a categorical way. Some customers might want to read about your facility and its history, but this information tends to get in the way of the hard details comparison shoppers demand upfront. So tuck this content away in its own clearly labeled section of the site. Minimize information clutter so even the busiest and most distracted visitor can easily navigate through the pages.
Info on Other Websites
Whether or not you have a website for your self-storage business, make sure your facility is listed in Google Places. These geo-targeted business listings show up first and most prominently in search results for queries like "self storage," so don't miss the opportunity. Fill out all of the information fields, especially your address, phone number and office and access hours. Bolster that by adding additional details, such as whether you offer climate-controlled units or move-in specials. To cover your bases, do the same on Yahoo Local and Bing Local. These lighter-weight search engines nonetheless account for around 30 percent of search traffic. The best part is its all free.
Other free options include city guides like Citysearch and online classifieds like craigslist. Always add links back to your facilitys website or Google Places page when you set up profiles or listings on these networks. This will build authority in the eyes of Googles site crawlers, helping you compete for visibility in search results.
When you really want to amp up online marketing efforts, list your facility with a comparison shopping network such as SpareFoot, SelfStorage.com, Self Storage Finders, USstoragesearch and others. Every month, millions of visitors browse storage listings on these websites.
Theres a good chance your site visitor will have multiple browser tabs open as he views and compares a handful of facility websites. Dont risk being the one with painfully flashy graphics and too much (or not enough) information. If your Web presence needs a boost, consider hiring a third-party service provider that can help you create a website, set up your Google Places listing, and convert and track your newfound Web traffic.
Chuck Gordon is the CEO and co-founder of SpareFoot.com, an online self-storage marketplace. SpareFoot is 100 percent performance-based with no setup or monthly fees. For more information, call 202.257.2111; visit www.sparefoot.com.