By Nick Bilava
Spring is a time when a lot of people move or clean out their homes. College students also need a place to store their belongings when the semester ends. For these reasons, it's generally a strong lease-up period in the self-storage industry. For most facility operators, it's an incredibly important time of the year. They need to maximize the opportunity, but how?
Online marketing is a great place to start. There are several ways to boost your business exposure on the Web and fill units during this critical stretch.
Start With Your Website
Your website should be the initial launching zone to your facility’s online marketing. Other techniques can drive traffic back to your website, but if it doesn’t represent your business or offer valuable information and a great user experience, many of your marketing efforts might go to waste.
Your website should present your business in a positive light. It truly is your online storefront, so it should be professional and up-to-date. Also, highlighting features such as online payment and reservation capabilities is a bonus for current and prospective renters. People are getting more accustomed to making purchases and decisions from their mobile devices. Giving them this convenience is important because it increases the chances that they will take action and rent from you.
Another important aspect is easy navigation. This should be absolutely front of mind when designing or upgrading your website. If you have something useful such as online-reservation capabilities, making it hard to find will completely defeat the purpose and frustrate visitors.
Establish Local and Social Presences
Not all online-marketing techniques are easy to execute or provide quick results. However, establishing a local online presence is relatively simple compared to other options. In fact, self-storage operators can claim local profiles on their own with a little time and effort. Local profiles on Google+, Yahoo!, Bing, Yelp and other directories are easy to claim and can make an impact within a few weeks. These directories receive high traffic and are used by millions to find local businesses. These profiles can also help storage operators in organic searches.
Social media profiles are equally as important; and in a way, local search and social media are merging. While being active on social media and interacting with other businesses and people within the area has unlimited potential, just having a presence is better than not having anything at all, as it increases chances of being found by self-storage seekers.
Many social media websites like Google+ and Facebook have local business features and are even used like a search engine by networkers. In fact, Google Places was moved within Google+, which put one of Google’s most used services within its social network. The best thing about these options is they can be set up at no cost.
Use Paid-Search Advertising
For self-storage operators looking to increase visibility even more during the spring lease-up period, paid search advertising—often referred to as pay-per-click or PPC advertising—is another way to increase Web traffic. Paid search is a very simple concept. Businesses create ads and bid for placement on popular search engines like Google and Bing. PPC advertising allows you to buy your way onto the first page of search engine results where the visibility is highest.
One reason paid search is a great tool for facilities is it can have an instant impact. Once the ads have been created, they can be live within a few hours. When using paid search, however, keep in mind that you pay for every click you receive. This means you have to make every one count. In other words, keep people on your site, so they’re not just clicking and leaving.
Paid search ads bring storage seekers to your website, where the decision to rent from your facility is made. If you’re paying for people to visit a website that isn’t converting prospects to tenants, paid search will not be a good monetary investment. Paid search can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool with very high return on investment, but it has to be done right.
Consider Self-Storage Directories
Your website and the Web space you own are important, but they can only take you so far. There are more than 20 first-page positions to choose from in online search results. Businesses that do an absolutely incredible job of online marketing can achieve around three spots on the first page of the major search engines. While this is possible, it’s hard to do, and one of those positions would require you to pay for placement through PPC.
Self-storage directories are another way to get your name in front of more potential tenants. These rank well for online storage searches and can help your chances of being found through another one to two of the positions on these results pages.
Storage directories receive high traffic volume from all over the nation. They give facilities an increased local presence while making it easier for those moving into the area to find a storage solution. In addition, facilities that are struggling to be found online because of a high competition will find directories are an incredibly affordable way to get the high-quality visibility they need.
Although directories come at a price, the return on investment is hard to contest. The payment models vary, but some offer performance-based services so operators only pay for the leads they receive.
There are many options when it comes to improving your online visibility. Whether you're looking for quick and free ways to increase your exposure or are willing to pay for help, the Web provides plenty of ways to maximize rental opportunities during the spring lease-up season.
Nick Bilava is the director of sales and marketing for Storage.com. He has been an active member of the storage community for more than seven years and can be found at various industry events throughout the nation. His goal is to help self-storage operators market their business more efficiently and effectively.