After a successful run of its Beta website through the end of 2009, StorageFront is going live with its new self-storage search engine and Web-marketing service on Feb. 1.
StorageFront launched last year as an independent online marketing resource for the self-storage industry. A bilingual search engine and marketing portal, StorageFront serves storage owners and renters with an advanced directory comprising more than 40,000 U.S. storage facilities.
For owners, the website offers robust Web-marketing tools. For consumers, it provides a simplified user interface, advanced search options and geo-relevant results. The search engine shows all facilities that fit a renter’s criteria, sorted by proximity. It also includes a growing library of tools, tips and checklists.
Subscription packages range from free for a Basic listing to $29.95 per month for a Priority listing and $69.95 per month per facility for a Priority Track marketing suite. Optional premium services (such as Google AdWords management or virtual tours) are bid by project.
The Basic package includes a directory listing and a Web page including address, phone, map and driving directions. Owners can opt to “verify” a listing by confirming accuracy by phone. They can also tag their state and national association affiliations for added credibility.
Priority listings rank higher in the directory and show more detail: logo, tagline, map marker, and up to 10 amenities that feed the advanced search function. Subscribers’ websites include particulars such as property photos, unit sizes, descriptions, hours of operation and coupons. Prospective renters can inquire, reserve, get directions, print or share with one click.
With the Priority Track suite, a unique phone number is assigned that times and records calls. A facility owner can log in from anywhere and listen to entire sales calls on his PC or iPhone. Web data such as unique-visitor traffic and call-to-action buttons are tracked, and then charted graphically in a marketing statistics dashboard. Owners can even opt to be notified via e-mail the moment a new Web lead or call comes in.
A product chart comparing Basic, Priority and Priority Track is available at Storagefront.com/owner-benefits.
For the facility owner, setup is easy, involving no design or coding experience to get a custom page up and running. The owner selects a design template that suits his brand, uploads a logo, and fills in the blanks. For owners of multiple locations, a “super admin” area supports control over many sites, including employee-permission settings. Once the page is up, StorageFront drives local search engine optimization and pay-per-click.
According to StorageFront, its usability test results were very positive, with renters and owners saying the site is clean, accessible and informative. Respondents showed particularly positive reactions to the frank yet cartoony “Web 2.0” look.
StoreFront said visitor traffic to the website has climbed at a rate of 290 percent month over month since the October Beta launch. The company credits the climb to intricate search-engine optimization techniques, plus a targeted Google AdWords pay-per-click campaign executed in the Texas test market.
Following the February launch, StorageFront will continue to progress its offerings in an effort to maximize renters’ search experience and owners’ online visibility. Enhancements slated for the first quarter of 2010 include an advanced space-calculation widget that helps renters accurately select a suitable unit size, and a Spanish-language search engine for the burgeoning Hispanic self-storage niche.
Based in Kansas City, Kan., StorageFront employs several specialists in the development, sales and marketing disciplines.