By Susan Weinman
By Susan Weinman
At the time of this writing, consumers are performing 660 million searches per day on mobile devices. That represents 15 percent of all Web searches. By the time you read this article, the number will have grown.
According to marketing research company ComScore Inc., smartphones are now used by one in four U.S. mobile subscribers. Estimates are that by the third quarter of 2011, they will outsell feature phones. Add to that the sales of iPads and other tablet-type brands, which should see $55 million sales in 2011, and you see the trend toward mobile Internet use is a powerful tool to market small businesses.
What Does This Mean for Self-Storage Operators?
A few years ago, all a self-storage owner had to do was buy a Yellow Pages ad and wait for customers to call. Those calls converted well to sales because Yellow Pages is a directional medium, meaning customers only rely on that type of advertising when they have a need. While statistics show that that Yellow Pages is still a high-performing advertising tool, consumers now also turn to the Interneton the desktop and on their phoneswhen looking for local businesses.
As the mobile channel evolves, data shows that the consumer doing mobile search for a product or service is a highly qualified buyer. Consumers using their smartphones to conduct a business search have an immediate need and are likely to make a purchase within a short period of time. In addition to search and directory applications, they will often use a navigation or mapping application to perform the search and have a high likelihood of downloading directions or maps if they find a local business that matches their needs. This means more physical site visits and a better opportunity to close the sale.
Taking it a step further, the newest technology in development is geo-fencing, which will have the ability to track a GPS search to see whether the prospect actually did go to the facility. You cant get better tracking data than that!
Remember that self-storage is geocentric, meaning our customers typically come from within a 3- to 5-mile radius. Thats what makes local search so relevant to this industry. The new local search is called hyperlocal, which is the type of search that has been feeding the growth of mobile-advertising revenue.
What Are Your Mobile Options?
First, get on the bandwagon before your competitors. Mobile advertising represents a largely untapped new source of leads for self-storage. This will quickly change as mobile-phone penetration continues to grow and the desire to reach the audience becomes more competitive.
The early adopters to mobile marketing will be able to get an early mover advantage and stand out to a greater degree, within a medium where a growing number of buying empowered and demographically attractive users are increasingly spending their time, says Michael Boland, senior analyst and program director of BIA/Kelsey, which offers strategic and financial services to media, telecommunications and technology industries.
There are two ways you can take advantage of todays mobile marketing: mobile search and mobile display. Heres how each works.
Mobile search. Mobile consumers search for local businesses in a variety of ways. They may search using the mobile Web (i.e., mobile versions of Google or Bing), or by using applications (apps) downloaded to the phone. The iPhone has more than 225,000 available apps, while the Android has more than 70,000. Of these, there are many search, directory and navigation apps, such as YPmobile, that can drive customers to your location for a relatively low fixed cost, around $1,200 per year per market. In addition, there are new providers that offer reach by delivering search results across a broad network of more than 20 top apps, providing the attractive option of a pay-per-call campaign.
Mobile display. Mobile advertising also offers highly targeted display or banner ad opportunities. Your banner ad can be targeted not only geographically but also by specific demographics. For example, finance and travel apps are used more frequently by 30- to 49-year-olds than any other age group and attract a primarily male audience. People ages 50 to 64 access news on a regular basis. If you want to attract a younger and primarily female demographic, media and entertainment is the answer.
A banner ad can be purchased on a targeted app, mobile website or network of sites. The rate is dependent on the geographic reach and number of impressions.
Do Some Research
There is no cookie-cutter approach to making an investment in mobile search. Its dependent on a number of variables, ranging from your market to number of locations to, of course, your budget.
Do your research, test one or more of the options. Often, there are pay-for-performance and short-term testing options available. Try a mix of mobile apps and mobile Web to get optimum leads. Give it enough time to produce results. This is a medium thats growing exponentially. If you get into it early, you may be able to secure some good placements. Remember when Yellow Pages was the only game in town and those early adopters bought double trucks to secure first position? It paid off for a long time. So will mobile search, especially if you get in on the ground floor.
Sue Weinman is business development executive at Michaels Wilder, a full-service marketing and media firm specializing in generating leads for the self-storage industry since 1989. To reach her, call 800.423.6468; e-mail [email protected] ; visit www.michaelswilder.com .