The times they are a-changin’. No matter where your self-storage facility operates, traditional marketing techniques are falling short now that prospective customers do more of their own research on their own terms. In addition, some buyers tend to distrust vendors and prefer to rely on information from other end-users.
Online reviews are the word-of-mouth of the digital age. They embody your brand’s street-level reputation and provide a social proof-of-concept for what you’re offering. Small wonder, then, that promoting your brand with unfiltered feedback from buyers doubles your impact on their purchasing behavior.
It’s one thing to recognize the value of reviews for making your brand more visible and credible. It’s another to grow a big enough pool of them to transform your marketing profile and increase conversions. Follow these four strategies to gain more online reviews.
Reserve a Web page for detailed feedback. Make it easy for buyers to leave detailed impressions of your services by creating a dedicated page for this purpose. You can obtain a custom URL for the right sort of customer testimonial landing page from review sites or host one natively on your own website.
There are advantages and tradeoffs to each. Working with a review site is the fastest and easiest way to get started, but you won’t own the review content once it’s posted. If you want to display reviews on your own site or in ads, you’ll likely need to license the content. Handling things on your own will give you more control over your data as well as the look and feel of the review-writing process; but it’ll also require more time and technical resources to build the page, manage the review data and figure out how to present the reviews publicly. Plus, do-it-yourself reviews may be perceived as less trustworthy than those posted on a third-party site.
Come out and ask for it. E-mail may seem quaint in the era of Twitter and clickbait, but it’s still hard to beat this tried-and-true tool for calling in your whole audience or a representative sample of the folks you want to reach. Invite customer reviews in branded outreach like newsletters or e-mail notifications. The old stick-and-carrot rule applies, too: Offer merchandise, coupons, discounts and other incentives in exchange for candid feedback about your services. Don’t pass up opportunities to remind folks of the offer. Just be sure to mention that the quid pro quo isn’t contingent on positive feedback, since research shows that even a negative review is more effective in establishing buyer trust than no review at all.
Tell all. The science of human behavior teaches us that we’re in some ways creatures of bias, prone to favoring our own needs and perspectives over those of others even when we’re unaware of it. To make sure you’re giving your audience the nuanced and realistic view of your brand that they want, strategize around your own bias by sourcing reviews as broadly as possible. This will help ensure you really are offering prospective buyers the truth.
Stay in touch. Persistence pays off. Follow up with your customers by thanking them for their helpful feedback. Always look for chances to carry the conversation forward by responding where appropriate, such as on social channels.
Paid advertising remains an effective marketing tool even in the midst of recent changes to the buyer’s journey. But by applying some of these tips, you can give your brand every possible advantage when paid advertising might not be an option.
Customer reviews are a great way to take in firsthand feedback and grow from it. They also allow potential customers to become familiar with your brand in more authentic ways.
Christian Golden, Ph.D., writes about tips and trends in digital marketing and social media for TrustRadius, a review site for business technology that serves buyers and vendors. He’s a philosopher by day who loves teaching and digging into the big questions. His extracurricular interests include making music, reading comics, watching (really old) movies, and being in the great outdoors.