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Self-Storage Marketing During COVID-19: The Importance of Messaging and Digital Communication

A lot has changed for self-storage businesses around COVID-19. Operators have less onsite traffic as customers shelter in place and shop online, and they’ve had to change their working procedures. All this affects facility marketing strategy and messaging. Find out how.

Is 2020 not panning out the way you envisioned? You aren’t alone. It isn’t what most of us expected at the beginning of the year.

Self-storage facilities, like many businesses, are changing the way they operate in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Further, a lot of the industry’s foot traffic has gone online, requiring a shift in the way you communicate with current and potential tenants. The good news is with a few small adjustments, you can update your marketing messaging and strategy to relay important information to customers. In this article, you’ll learn how to optimize your marketing during this difficult era and determine which platforms will maximize your online reach.

Shift to a Digital Approach

Even though prospects may not be driving past your facility as regularly as before or stopping into your office to inquire about storage, they’re still interested in how they can safely rent a unit or purchase moving supplies. But if you aren’t effectively conveying your current services, safety precautions and updates, you may be encouraging them to look elsewhere. You must enhance your online visibility, establish an open line of communication with current and potential customers, and express the right message!

With many of your self-storage customers sheltering in place, online and contactless rentals are becoming much more popular, which may mean less personal interaction between managers and tenants. You must rely on digital communication. Now’s the time to update your messaging and promote your services across multiple online platforms. The goal is to express empathy for the state of the world, drive sales and build brand credibility, but also to let people know how you can serve them virtually.

Craft Your Message

During COVID-19, it’s imperative that the tone and format of your customer communications align with the state of the world and the communities you serve. The attitude you express in your marketing materials and on your social platforms at this time will be critical in keeping current tenants and attracting new ones. Be engaging and concerned. Express empathy for the global climate and explain how your facility is adapting to provide superior service.

Also, prioritize your care and concern for onsite health and safety. Tenants still need to access their units, so tell them about the guidelines you have in place to ensure their well-being. Educate them on new operational procedures and technology being used to enhance their protection.

Get Your Message Out

Digital marketing tools are an excellent way to get your message in front of current and prospective tenants during this pandemic. According to a broadband report from data-analytics company OpenVault, Internet use increased 47 percent in the last quarter, which means the previously saturated online space has become even more flooded. Digital marketing can expand your presence, but it must be strategic. Which platforms are best? Consider these five.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. This is a cost-effective way to craft unique messaging and target your prime demographic. PPC increases your online visibility by placing your ads higher in search results. Where search engine optimization is typically a long-game strategy, PPC ads can be up and running swiftly to start driving traffic in a short time.

Quick tip: Use PPC ads to provide a quick uptick in online visibility to help replace lead generation lost due to lower in-office foot traffic.

Reputation management (customer reviews). Now more than ever, when face-to-face sales opportunities have been minimized, online reviews can drive home messages about your superior customer experience and commitment to quality. What’s more, they can influence buyer confidence and purchase decisions. Marketing firm BrightLocal states that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. By responding to them regularly and promptly, you can convey your message and differentiate your facility from competitors.

Quick tip: There are convenient reputation-management tools that provide access to all your online reviews in one place. Look for a digital-marketing provider that offers one.

Google My Business (GMB). A GMB listing provides quick visibility when a customer conducts a relevant search on Google or Google Maps. When people find your self-storage facility via Google, they can view your company profile, which can include photos, office hours, a business description, answers to common questions and customer reviews. A complete GMB profile has been known to increase lead generation by 29 percent, the search giant reports. This is a prime platform to promote calls-to-action and showcase exclusive offerings.

Quick tip: A lesser known but engaging GMB feature is weekly profile posts. In April, Google also announced a new type of post designed for COVID-19 updates, which might include new operating hours, updated safety precautions, changes to regular services and so on. Use this functionality to boost your messaging efforts. It’s a speedy way to highlight your most important announcements.

Boosted social media posts. With 3 billion social media users, it can be easy for your important posts to go unseen. For a small fee, boosted posts are shared directly with your target audience. Boosting helps achieve higher visibility and increased engagement with likes, impressions and comments. A person doesn’t even need to follow your company for boosted posts to display in his feed.

Quick tip: Boosted posts are an efficient way to highlight your messaging in the increasingly inundated social media world. With more companies taking their communications online, use this feature to help your business to stand out.

Progressive Web App (PWA). What’s the purpose of having an online self-storage rental tool if it doesn’t allow you to communicate directly with prospects and tenants? A PWA allows you to send push notifications to individuals or groups, giving your facility a unique channel to share your most important communications. A rental tool with a PWA displays messaging directly on users’ smartphones, tablets, desktop computers and laptops.

Quick tip: The best way to find out if your online rental tool has a PWA feature is to ask your provider. If it doesn’t offer one, now may be the right time to consider a switch.

Get Help

Digital marketing and online presence can be a lot for a self-storage operator to manage even under normal circumstances. In today’s constantly changing environment, it can be overwhelming. If you need help, consider hiring a dedicated marketing team that specializes in the storage industry.

During the coronavirus crisis, it’s vital to update your business messaging to align with current events, emphasize safety and social responsibility, and inform your audience regarding changes to operational protocols. When used effectively, digital-marketing tools can expand your online presence and help your brand excel, even during COVID-19.

Steve Lucas is a principal and chief operating officer for The Storage Group, a provider of website development, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, reputation management, software development and more. In his 35-year career, Steve has held many business-development and leadership roles. His systematic approach to business creates internal and client-based efficiencies that result in long-term business success with lasting relationships. For more information, call 407.392.2328; visit www.storageinternetmarketing.com.

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