Get ready … We’re at the top of the self-storage real estate cycle. As competition increases, we’re starting to see markets soften, rents decline and advertising costs rise. Despite relatively steady demand, the surge in supply has left some facility operators struggling to turn a profit and surpass their competitors. To stay ahead, you’ll need more efficient ways to acquire customers.
Now’s the time to adopt new marketing technologies! You must turn your attention to building your brand, connecting with prospective renters and bringing them to your business. Luckily, you have immediate, front-row access to new customers through the Internet. Innovative technology is here, and blending it into your marketing can help you maximize SERP (search engine results pages) and SEO (search engine optimization), understand and directly target consumers, drive digital leads, integrate data-tracking artificial intelligence (AI) and advertise dynamically.
These strategies will ultimately reach and convert more self-storage prospects, helping you outpace competitors and build a positive presence. Even better, it can be done at a lower cost than what you’re paying to do now. Following are ways new marketing technology can help improve your brand positioning and increase marketshare.
Meet Customers on Their Terms
The buyer’s journey has changed. With endless amounts of information available at the click of a button, consumers now only pay attention to relevant, hyper-personalized and accredited information. Seventy-three percent of clicks originate on mobile devices, giving brands just nanoseconds to make an impression. This makes dynamic advertising vital to audience reach. Dynamic ads update and maintain campaigns in real time, customizing content for each user so he sees the most relevant ads first.
The self-storage audience is diverse. In the coming years, three demographics are expected to comprise a large portion of the industry customer base: Baby Boomers, Millennials and Generation Z. Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age and looking to downsize, while Gen Z is just graduating college and moving into trendy, urban living environments. With multiple generations seeking storage units, a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy just doesn’t work.
Digital advertising solves this problem by tracking individual data and automatically pinpointing with specificity the channels and media that result in the most efficient marketing spend. This helps you target the most qualified leads and avoid investing in advertising that misses half the audience.
Build Your Brand, Protect Your Reputation
Occupancy tunnel vision often makes self-storage operators forget that marketing is also about creating demand and building a brand. A hyper-personalized digital experience is what customers want and expect. It serves their need for relevance and immediacy and adds lifetime value to a brand’s online presence.
With mere micro-moments to appeal to a user’s interest, local, targeted advertising again comes into play. SERP entries with local ties can have an impact. Company reviews can show up directly on your Google My Business listing, with prospects placing increased reliance and trust on others’ experiences and opinions. Ninety-one percent of marketers agree that Google reviews have a major impact on local rank, with the power to destroy a brand’s reputation. Monitoring and engaging in the conversation surrounding your company can help identify problem areas and prevent damage to your public standing.
By leveraging smart technologies, marketing campaigns can be efficiently managed based on inventory, market and location in real time. According to 2018 Google research, more than 60 percent of consumers expect brands to provide them with the information they need when they need it. This starts with ensuring customers are always given the most up-to-date information. Outdated business listings result in a loss of trust, and old pricing quotes, if listed online, will mislead and ultimately frustrate prospects, resulting in lost business.
As the customer journey becomes more complex, AI and machine learning are expected to play a larger role in digital marketing. The use of such technologies provides the ability to efficiently connect and unify data from disparate sources, automate data models to scale and mature, and shrink optimization cycles.
However, even the most applicable, hyper-personalized information can be dismissed with slow page speed. A Web page that takes five or more seconds to load is 90 percent more likely to be abandoned compared to one that loads in a single second. Companies must create mobile-first websites that load quickly and scale across devices. Regardless of generation, location or price, consumers expect instant information, and marketers are constantly under pressure to speed up website load time to reduce the risk of consumers bouncing to competitor sites.
Instead of mass producing and abandoning your digital advertising efforts, focus on meeting each customer in the mere micro-moments prior to click-through. To stay competitive in a market of unbalanced supply and demand, you need to be present at every touchpoint along the customer journey. Human efforts and interactions are no longer competing against advanced technologies for results. Instead, effective self-storage operators will focus on how to leverage next-generation tools to outpace competitors.
Dan Hobin is CEO of G5, a provider of digital marketing solutions to the self-storage industry. It’s a predictive marketing software-as-a-service company that uses artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies to help marketers amplify their impact. Through its Intelligent Marketing Cloud, G5 delivers performance and scalability through predictive analytics, hyper-personalized customer experiences and continuous spend optimization. Dan oversees the company’s strategic direction, execution and planning. For more information, call 800.554.1965; visit www.getg5.com.