I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m confident digital marketing will continue to have a huge impact on self-storage businesses in 2020 and beyond. This year, a lot of familiar tactics will need a facelift, while some underutilized strategies may need to play a more vital role in your promotion plan. The arena of marketing continues to evolve at warp speed, and you need to adapt if you want to get more from your programs, stay competitive and retain high-value customers.
Here are six trends self-storage operators should strongly consider building into their 2020 marketing approach.
1. Content Is Still King
Content marketing isn’t going away. Search engine optimization (SEO) is still fueled by content. Regular blogging and longer forms of written content will continue to drive Web visibility.
So, yes, you want to post quality content. Just remember, the point of this is to attract and engage your audience, not annoy them with subpar space-fillers. Content that speaks at length about a subject ranks higher than posts that are hyper-focused on keyword phrases. I’m not suggesting you eliminate keywords, but concentrate on creating high-quality material that provides value to the reader.
The most important aspect of content marketing is lead generation. In fact, it generates three times more leads than paid-search advertising, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Well-crafted content helps users find your facility online. Since most consumers will visit your website before deciding to rent from you, content should be designed to educate this audience. Answering their basic questions will result in increased Web traffic.
That said, the written word should be only one component of your overall content strategy this year. Read on for other types of content you should be exploring.
2. Diversify With Video
Customers continue to respond well to visual content, making video an important digital-marketing tool. Human attention spans are short. Video can deliver your messaging more effectively in less time while striking an emotional chord. Though video creation may seem daunting, consider that viewers retain 95 percent of messaging through video vs. just 10 percent when reading text.
To leverage video, you can create simple how-to guides and tutorials as well as facility tours. Just keep these important pointers in mind:
- Videos up to two minutes long get the most engagement.
- Half of all video is viewed via mobile devices, so optimize for mobile platforms.
- Include closed captions, as many videos are watched in silent mode.
- Make sure your video thumbnail image is engaging.
Engage With Interactive Content
Interactive content isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s gaining popularity. It requires active engagement from the user, who becomes an integral part of a dynamic, two-way experience. Think of quizzes, surveys or polls that allow participants to discover a useful answer or result. Developing interactive content is about creating additional value for your audience, not direct lead generation. In self-storage, this could be as simple as creating a really nice photo gallery of your property or perhaps something as flashy as a virtual, 360-degree tour.
Remember, your content strategy should appeal to all viewers. Some want to read; some want to watch, and others want to be shown how to do something. To touch all your bases, diversify content across different channels. Also, it’s OK not to post every day. It’s about quality over quantity.
4. Optimize Voice Search
When Apple’s Siri was introduced in 2011, few thought voice search would become an integral part of digital marketing. This year, half of all searches are expected to be conducted through voice, according to comScore. Consumers want convenience. Voice optimization enables multi-tasking, allows faster returns and eases daily routines. Though optimizing for voice search has mostly been an afterthought for self-storage operators, that won’t be the best approach in the long run.
Voice searches typically come in the form of a question, starting with how, what, when, where, why or will. When building your content strategy, brainstorm the kinds of questions prospects are likely to ask related to your target keywords.
5. Create Personalized Experiences
Personalized experiences also aren’t new, but this strategy has evolved greatly over the past few years. If content remains king in 2020, personalization will remain queen. And I’m not just talking about changing the name of the person you’re addressing in your e-mail newsletter. Personalization is about creating a real connection between your brand and the customer. Eighty percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that provides a personalized experience, according to Marketing Insider Group.
Think about the last e-mail you received from Amazon, Wayfair, Lowe’s or some other retail brand. I’m guessing it presented product recommendations just for you. That level of hyper-personalization is going to continue to grow thanks to technological advancements like artificial intelligence combined with data collection. While this might not be the easiest strategy to deploy, it’s definitely one worth watching.
6. Strive for Zero
Being No. 1 on search engine results pages (SERP) is no longer enough. Zero is where it’s at. Say what?
While ranking first in SERP is still a legitimate goal, the new target for many digital marketers is position zero. This refers to the first result that appears above the organic listings on a Google search-results page. It’s also referred to as a featured snippet, rank zero or P0. These featured snippets mean users don’t even have to click through to a website to get the information they’re looking for; it’s literally displayed right on the results page.
Where does this content come from? When someone searches online, Google’s algorithms detect pages that answer the searcher’s question and display the top results as a featured snippet. Position zero typically includes paragraphs, numbered and bulleted lists, tables, videos, images or charts. Like voice search, position-zero content exists to answer consumers’ who, what, when, where and why questions. Many brands are still trying to figure out how to achieve position zero since it requires a different set of techniques than those deployed for traditional SEO ranking.
While this is really just a sample of potential marketing trends that will affect businesses in 2020, it’s safe to say content will continue to be the dominant force across the digital landscape. It plays a role in each of the trends discussed. To achieve success with any of these strategies, you’ll need to have a solid base of quality content across all your self-storage marketing channels.
Christina Alvino is the owner of FineView Marketing, which specializes in working with small and mid-sized self-storage operators. She has served as an executive-level marketing leader in the storage industry since 2011. Prior to launching FineView, she worked in marketing and operations for several large self-storage operators including Great Value Storage, Guardian Storage and LockTite Storage. For more information, call 724.413.6195; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.fineviewmarketing.com.