Some trends should never be followed, like eating Tide Pods, wearing your hair in a mullet, eating kale and doing the cinnamon challenge. But this article is full of trends you should adopt when it comes to digital marketing for your self-storage business. Consider these top four that’ll boost your efforts this year.
Trend 1: Website Accessibility
Having an accessible website is vital. This means that visitors of all abilities can use your self-storage website with ease, regardless of what devices or assistive technologies they use. Around 20% of the population lives with a disability, which means one in five web visitors may need assistive technology to surf the internet.
These days it’s no secret that your website and online presence is your digital doorstep. If it isn’t accessible, you’ve essentially slammed the door in customers’ faces (rude) and likely driven them toward a competitor. A website all visitors can navigate inherently reaches a wider audience, which is the name of the game in marketing.
Want to get tactical about website accessibility? Good. Here are a few tips:
- Put your facility phone number in the header, so those who really want to call can get to that fast.
- Make sure there’s a strong color contrast between text and backgrounds.
- Use alternative text (alt text) that describes visual elements such as photographs on all pages. This can also help search engines crawl your website and boost search engine optimization.
- Add labels and instructions to any website form fields rather than placeholder text, so all users can fill out your forms.
- Work with your provider to understand if your website is built from the code up to be accessible.
Trend 2: Online Rentals
Today’s consumers expect frictionless online experiences. Before you dismiss this by thinking it only applies to “fancy” industries, don’t. Self-storage is no exception. Tech adoption is a one-way street, and it moved faster than ever over the past couple of years. Not to be too dramatic, but digital expectations of brands have changed forever and there’s no going back to how things were.
You can now buy a car in four clicks, so why do you need to go to a office and sign nine million pieces of paper to rent a 10-by-10 self-storage unit? Online leasing has moved from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have, and it fulfills two critical needs. Remember the first rule of business: Keep the customers happy. Self-storage renters demand the ease of online rentals. Second perk? With employee shortages and hiring struggles, online transactions can ease the burden of trying to staff your front office. (By the way, telling customers how easy it is to rent space with your brand is paramount, so include this tidbit in your marketing.)
Trend 3: Data Privacy
In case you haven’t heard, Google is discontinuing third-party cookies. Quick refresh: These are pieces of information created by websites to track individuals across multiple websites and provide advertisers with detailed information that can be used for highly specific retargeting ads. They aren’t going to be around much longer.
First-party cookies are their much less creepy cousin. Many websites collect these, which are used to enhance the user experience. They track basic data for your own visitors and help users interact on your website by remembering their data or preferences for future visits.
Google has pushed their cookie apocalypse date out a bit, but eventually, it’ll happen. Why? Because consumers demand more data privacy, and companies like Google are answering in a variety of ways. For Google, it’s death to third-party cookies. For Apple, it’s iOS14 and the ability for Apple users to “ask apps not to track” their data.
This is all very technical and in-the-weeds, but the bottom line is this: Third-party cookies are bad, while first-party data is good. Working with a digital-marketing partner who understands these intricacies and relies on first-party data to fuel their automation is vital to your self-storage operation’s success in a privacy-centric world.
Trend 4: Artificial Intelligence (AI)
We don’t quite live in the Jetsons' era, but we do reside in a world with increasingly sophisticated tech solutions. Redundant, repetitive, admin-esque tasks aren’t how you to make the best use your self-storage team’s time, not because they’re above putting in some elbow grease, but because AI and machine learning can take your digital advertising to places of which you’ve never dreamed.
Most marketers are super-human go-getters who juggle tasks, deadlines and complex individual lives; but at the end of the day, we’re all human. While you’re sleeping, taking a sick kiddo to the doctor or picking up groceries, AI is working so you don’t need to worry about the nuances of individual advertising campaigns. While you comb your hair, it combs millions of rows of data to find patterns, and then allocates your digital-advertising spend to the campaigns most likely to end in a self-storage lease. While you transfer funds to pay your mortgage once a month, it transfers funds to the highest performing marketing channels every single day.
To be blunt, we simply can’t keep up or compete with the vast quantity of data that powers modern marketing. When we allow tech to take the wheel and use advanced tools to guide digital-marketing spend down to the campaign level, we get to zoom out a bit and focus on big-picture strategy to create a better renter experience every step of the way.
The most successful self-storage operators are digital-marketing trend-setters. Work with your team to embrace the four trends above and your business will come out ahead.
Lisa Ash is manager of customer success at G5, a provider of digital-marketing solutions to the self-storage industry. With more than 11 years of experience in account management and customer success, she’s worked with a multitude of clients nationwide and across professional levels to positively impact their marketing efforts and keep them on track toward their goals. To reach her, call 800.554.1965 or email [email protected].