Did you know there are more self-storage units in the United States than there are Starbucks, grocery stores, hospitals and Target stores combined? The storage industry has been steadily growing for more than a decade and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. With increased competition, operators must be smart in how they build and manage their Web presence.
People are searching for storage more frequently online—in fact, more than 5 million searches annually, according to our 2017 “Storage Industry Consumer Behavior & Marketing Report.” Creating a strong online presence can be accomplished through a variety of methods, though a comprehensive plan will increase your competitive advantage. Each self-storage operation is unique, so owners and managers should pick and choose what works best for them. Two major components to consider, however, are your website and social media presence.
Having a website for your business should be a no brainer, but is it optimized to convert leads into rentals? Typically, if a website doesn’t provide a simple or convenient way to reserve or rent a unit, customers won’t convert. Here are some tips to help you create the best possible website for your customers and optimize your online marketing presence.
1. Know Your Goals
Before doing the heavy lifting to strengthen your Web visibility, know what you want to accomplish and establish goals. Approach things, including the layout of your website, from the tenant’s perspective. For example, if your goal is to capture more unit reservations, is it easy to access and submit an application form?
2. Optimization Is a Process
Building your own website is often challenging and far too time-consuming, so you may want to use a Web developer. Be sure to specify what your goals are before the developer begins working on the project. Your website likely won’t be perfect right away, so be patient and willing to work with the developer to tweak it as necessary.
3. Improve, Test, Repeat
You should always be looking for ways to improve your site. User-experience testing is a great way to learn what is and isn’t working well. Find people who have never used your website and ask them to perform basic tasks to help identify any roadblocks. You can then work with your developer to fix these issues.
4. Tap the Power of Social Media
Another outlet for gaining customers online is properly utilizing social media. Start by mastering your social profiles and ensuring your branding is consistent. Begin by creating or claiming your social profiles across all social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. When creating your profiles, try to use the same handle (username) on all platforms and attempt to make it as close to your company’s name as possible.
5. Leverage Social Ads
Once you have your profiles secured, deploy tactics such as social ads, which can increase your likes and followers each month by more than 175 percent on average, according to the report. Ads can be set up on the advertising dashboards found on most social platforms. This is a targeted approach that can provide a strong competitive advantage considering only 19 percent of small business owners utilize social ads. Here are some additional reasons why they’re effective:
- Display ads are a great way to actively seek customers instead of waiting for them to discover your business.
- In contrast to paid search, social advertising can be targeted specifically to demographics instead of relying on keyword searches.
- You can proactively target the needs of specific groups, such as those in the process of moving, college students, military personnel, etc., before they even realize they need to rent a unit.
- Properly setting up social ads can provide huge returns in qualified clicks and conversions.
Implementing tactics with specific consumer-demographic groups in mind, while also tying into behavioral and industry trends, will be key to growing your business and increasing revenue going forward. An informed, goal-oriented approach will help optimize your marketing plan, strengthen your online presence and convert more leads.
Taylor Cain is a marketing coordinator at Go Local Interactive, a digital-marketing agency specializing in customer-acquisition strategies. It assists self-storage operators implement, manage and track marketing efforts down to the local level. Offerings include creative services, local-listings management, paid search, search engine optimization, social media and website development. For more information, call 919.689.3170; visit www.golocalinteractive.com.