If you haven’t given much thought to how mobile marketing could impact your self-storage business, you’re at risk of quickly falling behind competitors who may be capitalizing on a seismic shift in consumer demographics and behavior. The old adage that “if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward” has perhaps never been more apropos.
As you probably know, Google altered its algorithm on April 21 to more favorably boost the search rankings of mobile-friendly Web pages, which it defines as those “legible and usable on mobile devices.” As a result, the search-engine giant freely admits “pages designed for only large screens may see a significant decrease in rankings in mobile search results.” This is no small thing if you’ve worked hard on your search engine optimization and have been generally pleased with your search page rankings but neglected to launch a mobile-friendly website.
The topic of Google’s algorithm update came up as a warning during every education session that was part of the Marketing track at this year’s Inside Self-Storage World Expo. The idea of implementing mobile strategies to enhance your marketing efforts isn’t a new concept to self-storage operators, but its practice is quickly transforming into a business standard in the same way that e-mail and websites became critical instruments for business operation and customer engagement.
Dallas Dogger previously did a nice guest blog, highlighting concerns on this so-called “Mobilegeddon,” and Google has a good FAQ on the subject. The search engine also has a mobile-friendly test you can use to see how your website measures up.
The topic is important because the lion’s share of online traffic around the world is now on mobile devices. Last year, the research firm ComScore estimated 60 percent of all Internet traffic was mobile. Meanwhile, the number of mobile searches in the United States is also rising, while searches from PCs are declining. In the fourth quarter of 2014, 29 percent of all U.S. searches were made on mobile devices, with smartphones accounting for twice the number of searches from tablets, although the latter is gaining on the former, according to ComScore.
If you still think the traffic numbers are low and don’t warrant your attention, consider that the U.S. Census Bureau today announced that there are now 83.1 million Millennials in the United States compared to 75.4 million aging Baby Boomers. This means there are more Millennials residing in the U.S. than any other generation. It’s a significant generational shift.
In January, the Pew Research Center projected the number of Millennials would hit 81 million around 2036 based on Census Bureau population projections from December 2014. The new figures obliterate those projections, although it should be noted that Pew defines Millennials as those born between 1981 and 1997, while the Census Bureau uses the broader spectrum of 1982-2000. In its January report, Pew attributed continued growth in the number of Millennials to an influx of young immigrants, and today’s Census Bureau announcement says Millennials are far more diverse than previous generations, with 44.2 percent belonging to a minority race or ethnic group.
The point is the number of U.S. residents in the coveted consumer age range of 18 to 34 is accelerating, and if you know one thing about Millennials it’s that they like their technology. As they move through college, get married, have families, buy houses and toys, they are becoming core self-storage customers. By the way, Generation X, which Pew defines as those born between 1965 and 1980 (currently 35 to 50 years old), isn’t projected to outnumber Baby Boomers until 2028, and at that point, its numbers are projected to be leveling or declining, while Millennials widen the generational gap.
So, yes, the Millennials are here and growing in age and numbers, and consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on mobile technology in making purchase decisions. In its “Q1 2015 Email Marketing Compass” report, marketing company Yesmail said mobile clicks now account for 45 percent of all opened e-mail, while mobile e-mail revenue grew 12 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014. Further, mobile e-mails now account for 22 percent of all e-mail-driven revenue, with smartphones driving half that income. In addition, mobile click-to-open (CTO) rates continue to increase, while desktop CTO is declining.
“The first-quarter findings demonstrate a permanent shift in consumer behavior in terms of both the level of activity and device preference,” Yesmail officials said. “If this mobile activity continues to increase, mobile devices could account for as much as a third of all revenue generated through e-mail marketing by the end of 2015.”
That may sound over the top where self-storage is concerned, but if you don’t yet have an online-marketing strategy that ties together your e-mail campaigns with a responsive or mobile-friendly website, you could be risking sales and slowly degrading your customers’ online experience. Failing to make online reservations and payments an easy process using mobile devices will become less tolerable as Millennials increase in spending power and strengthen their grip as the dominant generation.
How are you using mobile marketing to support your self-storage business? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments section below.