In today’s digital-focused world, a good website is the foundation for any thriving self-storage business. It can help you with facility branding, marketing, advertising and sales. It’s the platform that lets the world know who your company is and what it has to offer. Today’s competitive environment makes it essential to have a website capable of guiding current and prospective customers toward your facilities.
For many consumers, your website will set their first impressions of your business. This can either entice them to visit you or drive them toward a competitor. People widely rely on the Internet to make their spending decisions, and there’s a direct correlation between your online presence and bottom line. You stand a far greater chance of having a business that flourishes if you have a well-designed website geared for success. Here are some tips for creating and maintaining one.
Professional vs. DIY
The only necessary steps to creating a website are choosing a template on a content-management system (CMS), filling in your information and publishing, right? If only it was that easy!
Web developers today are challenged to build for success while providing an exclusive design. Serious thought and creative work are required to develop a sleek, polished and prosperous website. This isn’t to say platforms such as WordPress aren’t useful. A CMS can be an excellent way to develop a framework, but Web design and maintenance require a massive time commitment. A high-performing site requires certain skills, so it’s often best to hire a digital marketing agency to do the work for you.
Try not to think of it as investing in a single product. Professional expertise will likely drive more revenue your way. The investment can also open your schedule, allowing you to focus on facility operation and expansion. You’ll find the cost is well worth the results.
There are certain website components that should be included on your “must-have” checklist. Security, user-friendliness, design and content are all elements that require consideration. The items below should be top-of-mind before constructing your website.
SSL certificate. A secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate is crucial for website security. It allows site visitors to surf, make reservations and share personal information with the guarantee that the platform is safe. An SSL site displays a lock symbol to the left of the URL on the user’s Web browser. In many cases, consumers will resist visiting websites that aren’t secure, potentially driving away revenue opportunities and hurting your place in search-engine rankings.
ADA compliance. In connection to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) determined guidelines for “public accommodation” that must be met to remain in compliance with the law. An ADA-compliant website allows users with disabilities to fully access the site’s components. Meeting these guidelines covers the DOJ’s requirements for businesses and will likely increase your audience.
Responsive design. Websites with responsive design are optimized to automatically adjust to the screen size of the device being used to view the site, including PC desktops, tablets and mobile phones. According to Statistica, 75.1 percent of U.S. Internet traffic is accessed via mobile phones. A website that works properly on mobile devices is a critical business tool that will allow you to effectively reach the majority of Internet users.
Sleek, clean design. A cluttered website can turn people away faster than you’d think. A clean, appealing look is essential to inviting and enticing users to stick around and explore. Stay consistent with color palette, font types and content organization to keep your audience engaged.
Appropriate content. An informative summary of your business mission and the services you provide are crucial content components. Your site should also include your mailing address and contact information, a Google map, high-quality facility photos, and descriptions of all the products and services you offer. Other pieces, such as a blog, can serve more than one purpose. They not only offer useful information, they increase the website’s visibility through industry-related keywords. Relevant, fresh content is a best practice for search engine optimization (SEO), encouraging Google’s algorithm to push your website’s ranking higher in search results.
Social media integration. You can increase your online presence by providing links on every page of your website to your business pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media. Any business that plans to excel should be on a variety of platforms. Integrating them with your website provides an easy yet powerful way to help your organic search rankings and build brand awareness. It also allows you to connect with your local community, so it can be fantastic promotional tool.
Maintain Your Presence
Website creation is only half the work. A cutting-edge site is consistently maintained and improved. Strategies and tools such as SEO, social media, pay-per-click ads, customer reviews and blogs can carry your website to an advanced level. While design and content are the foundation, the quality and quantity of your traffic is what truly matters. The following will add to your website’s capabilities and assist in revenue generation.
SEO. The importance of SEO, which is about guiding the most relevant audience to your site and increasing volume, is commonly underestimated. According to digital-marketing company Bright Local, 76 percent of consumers perform local searches to find nearby businesses, and 26 percent of those result in purchases. A local search on Google is a common deciding factor for many consumers. The best SEO practices will work with Google’s algorithms and increase the chances that your website appears in organic and local searches.
Social media. Again, your business should make use of social media. Enhance your presence by posting regularly and including the URL to your website in each post. This will increase your follower base and build brand awareness. Linking to your website, engaging with community members and providing useful information on each post should result in increased website traffic. The importance of maintaining an active, engaging business presence on social becomes more critical each year. The benefits can be remarkable.
Pay-per-click (PPC) ads. A PPC ad is a highly effective promotional tool provided by Google. It allows you to target a specific population and fitting within a chosen budget. While organic and local search rankings can take time to increase, PPC ads can drive traffic to your page and start to generate sales immediately. There are many specialists in this field who can help increase the chances of ad success. The instant gratification PPC offers can make this investment highly beneficial.
Customer reviews. Embedding a customer-review system on your website deepens your business-consumer relationship while increasing your local and organic search rankings. Typically, such a system allows clients to automatically write a review and send it directly to one or more of the popular platforms such as Yelp, Facebook and Google. Allowing customers to leave reviews provides another opportunity for them to visit your website.
Blogs. Websites that excel typically have a blog with interesting, fresh content. Blogs enable alternative keywords to show up in related searches, improving your website rankings. This will boost your SEO and keep current and potential tenants engaged with your site. The self-storage industry is evolving rapidly, which means there’s a plethora of unique information you can share to keep your audience fully engaged. A blog allows you to get creative while providing virtual interaction with tenants and prospects.
Whether you’re designing a website or working to improve results, Web development can feel daunting. The above should provide a great place to begin your journey or keep you focused on what’s most important. By continually improving your website to perform well within an ever-evolving digital world, you’ll position your business to thrive. Take advantage of these digital-marketing techniques to drive your self-storage operation to its pinnacle.
Sarah Baker is marketing manager at The Storage Group, an interactive, digital-marketing agency offering services to meet the needs of self-storage operators. The company's offerings include local-listing management, mobile websites, online rentals, pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, social media marketing and website development. For more information, call 407.392.2328; visit www.storageinternetmarketing.com.