How To Develop A Well-Thought-Out Marketing Strategy
As a self-storage operator, you probably don’t go out to meet customers where they are. You want them to reserve a unit at your facility after visiting your website, but how do you make that happen? The answer is having a good marketing strategy. When your marketing strategy works, the customers find you.
Create Relevant Content
Today, most successful marketing strategies have one important thing in common: content that is relevant to the end user. If you want Google to deem your website content as fit to be near the top of search engine results, then your focus must be on making sure your content will be useful to the user.
Website content should answer the customer’s questions. It must also be engaging. Perhaps most importantly, content on your website should be created for the user—not for the search engine.
Stand Out On The Web
In addition to providing content that’s relevant to the user, self-storage operators should pay close attention to search engine optimization, or SEO, as well. If you don’t use SEO strategies, your top-notch website is as useful to you as new signage that hasn’t been delivered! And it’s not enough to figure it out once. When it comes to SEO, there’s really no time to rest.
SEO strategies that work this month may not work next month. There’s a good reason for that: Google revises its search algorithm hundreds of times a year. Since Google constantly changes its mind about how it decides to include your website in search results, you must be willing to adapt your SEO strategy. Larger self-storage companies usually have SEO resources in-house, but smaller operators can compete by partnering with a good SEO agency.
Keep The End User In Mind
When thinking about your marketing strategy, the biggest thing to remember is that you should always keep the end user in mind. The end user is, of course, your customer or potential customer. While drive-by traffic is nice, the reality is that you need a high-quality, attractive, easy-to-use website that shows up on search results with relevant content in order to stay competitive.
In addition to accessing helpful content on a user-friendly website, customers want to reserve storage units and make payments online. Customers also expect your website to work properly when accessed via a mobile phone. If you don’t offer those services, customers may go with a competitor instead.
To ensure your website is effective at converting customers, conduct testing and take advantage of free tools such as Google Analytics, which provides information on website traffic and bounce rates. If customers bounce from, or leave, your website quickly, take another look at the design, functionality, and content. If customers don’t visit your website at all, make sure your content is relevant and engaging, and invest in SEO or paid search.
Make Your Facility Shine
After having a positive experience on your website, a potential customer may make the decision to rent a storage unit at your facility. That potential customer expects a match between the positive online experience and the reality of your physical facility. Beautiful, user-friendly websites only get you so far. The in-person or drive-by experience is your foundation. An outstanding storage facility paired with a good website help you provide a consistent experience throughout the customer journey.
A smart marketing strategy includes measures for improving the condition of your facility. Providing a clean, pest-free storage facility is a start, but curb appeal is important too. Neat landscaping and upgraded paint inspire confidence in your business.
When driving by or visiting a facility in person, customers should get the sense that their belongings will be safe. Signage should be brightly lit and highly visible from the road. Storage managers and all staff should be thoroughly trained to meet expectations, and security measures should be in place. Keeping your storage facility in top shape with great service takes time and effort, but providing a good customer experience is rewarding enough to make up for the resources used.
Remember Existing Customers
It’s important to nurture relationships with potential customers, yet it’s also essential to nurture the relationships you have with existing customers. Your existing customers can drive business by simply staying longer at your facility. Customers are also an important source for referrals. Customers are more likely to refer their family members, colleagues, and friends if they enjoy storing belongings at your storage facility.
Moreover, satisfied customers may submit great online reviews, which can tilt the scale in your favor over another company with no online reviews or with unfavorable reviews. When you receive a positive online review on a website like Yelp or Google, a bonus for you is that the review will probably show up on search results when customers look for your business. As your marketing plans evolve, consider adding resources to respond to online reviews, and engage with customers through social media avenues such as Twitter and Facebook.
A sound marketing plan takes into account priorities. Without them, resources may be wasted. For example, before using resources to optimize website content or buy pay-per-click advertising, it’s smart to consider making any needed storage facility upgrades. You may drive customers to your property, but if they don’t like what they see the search will start again and you’ve wasted resources.
It’s wise to focus on the highest impact project first. As a case in point, consider the impact of paid search if it’s driving users to a dated or unattractive website that’s difficult to use. If your website needs work, there’s no reason to invest in paid search. Low-quality websites will not convert users into customers. In this case, the highest impact project would be investing in a better website.
Do Market Research
With the right research, you can form a marketing strategy that will allow you to set yourself apart from competition and persuade people to come to your business instead of another business. Studying data can help you better figure out how to put yourself in front of potential customers at the right time and right phase of the buying cycle.
Analyze data on existing customers, occupancy rates, and demand over the history of your property. Find out more about the customers in the vicinity of your storage facility. Learn about their phases of life, income levels, and other demographics. When you better understand the data and the current situation, then you can ask questions to discover opportunities and begin making an informed plan based on the data.
Competitive analysis is also important. Examine what your competitors are doing. Resist being complacent with positive changes to your bottom line. Compare your business to the rest of the industry. You’re doing well, but are you doing as well as your competitors?
Implement Your Plan
When you’re ready to implement your marketing plan, the best piece of advice to remember is that old adage: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Cutting corners on important things such as websites and facility maintenance will get you nowhere. Using data and market research to make wise decisions about marketing goals and implementing a customer-focused plan to grow your business will get you everywhere.
Garret Stembridge is the senior SEO marketing manager at Extra Space Storage.