With over 200 million Google searches for storage per year, how your storage facility shows up online is now more important than ever. Customers need to be able to find your storage facility in their search and land on an attractive, effective website. Storage is a demand-based business, meaning your storage facility must be present when the customer is searching. Your storage facility’s online presence is driven by a few different components including your website, search engine optimization, social media, and reputation management. Let’s dive into each of these parts.
1. Your Website
When a potential customer lands on your website, they are most likely to do one of three actions. The person is looking to rent a unit, pay their bill, or contact the facility. Yes, the user may browse your website for the features your facility has and some pictures, but those three items are the actionable items on your website. Therefore, the three call-to-actions must be prominently displayed on your website. They should be clear and above the fold- meaning in a place that is on the display screen that the user does not have to scroll to see.
Additionally, your prices and units should be displayed on the interior landing page in a clear, concise way. Having a description in bullet points next to the units allows the customer to understand the options available to them. If you have odd unit sizes, maybe just display the standard unit sizes online. This helps the customer see the prices and options in a manner that can allow them to make a confident choice in making the rental. If your website allows for the ability to rent online, it is important to have an explanation of the difference between rent and reserve and what the next action step taken by the customer is after making the rental or reservation. Ensure that your prices are displayed—customers will move on if they do not see the prices listed. Additionally, if you offer specials on your website, make sure they will be honored at the store as well.
Since 50 percent of storage customers have not used storage before, it is important that your website contains information about self storage. Ask your store manager about questions they get frequently asked and put them on your website. This allows a customer to view all the information needed in making a decision about storage.
If your website is not ADA compliant, you will also want to ensure that you look into making your website accessible by everyone. This will help in gaining customers and ensuring that your website is accessible to everyone.
The last piece that is important is your website site speed. It needs to load within three seconds. This will not only help your rankings on Google (Google looks at site speed when ranking sites), it helps with attracting customers. There are so many choices for storage facilities. A customer will move on to the next if your site is not loading fast enough.
2. Search Engine Optimization
So, you created an attractive, effective website that drives rentals, but how will customers find you? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) needs to be done on and off your website to drive traffic to your site. While SEO can be daunting to some, there are pieces that you can do to ensure your website is being found by search engines. The most important pieces of information are to ensure that your Name, Address, and Phone Number are written accurately and consistently across all places in the internet.
To compete online, localized SEO needs to be done. This means that you want content and keywords to have your town/city along with storage prominent. Storage is a local search and people want a facility near them. You can compete online by adding in localized content to your website.
On page, search engine optimization can be done on your website through adding keywords and tags to pages. If you are doing your own website, there are plug-ins that can help with this. If you employ a company to do this, make sure they are using localized content along with storage content.
Off page, SEO can be done through updating your listings across the web. This means both listings that users may search, but more importantly sites that Google uses to search as well. On all these sites, it is important that your name, address, and phone number are accurately written consistently. To update these lists, you can use a site like Bright Local or Yext, that can send out multiple updates to the sites at one time.
The most important listing is your Google My Business page. If you have not claimed it, go onto Google and claim it now! This allows you to verify that your business is real and put all the correct information onto the profile. It allows you to become more searchable and show up better on Google Maps.
Additionally, if you are interested in learning more about SEO and becoming familiar, Moz has a great guide that provides you more information on getting started on SEO.
3. Social Media
Engaging on social media allows your brand to attract more customers and build customer loyalty. Not only is it another channel to reach customers, Google views it as real companies have social media pages. Picking two channels to start with is key in building your following. This can be done by posting engaging content, including local events, initiatives at your storage facility, and sharing storage tips. No matter what networks you choose to launch for your storage facility, it is important that your profile is filled out accurately.
Launching a fan page on Facebook allows you to retain customers and share information and it's also a powerful tool in attracting customers. Facebook has an opportunity to target customers before they know they need storage. A storage facility can run an ad in their geographic location targeting Facebook users who just had a life event that triggers storage, such as divorce, new relationship, recent mortgage borrower, house hunting, and more. These ads can be done on a pay-per-click budget and are pretty impactful. Companies are now finding customers, before customers find the companies. This allows you to reach someone before they realize their need for storage and can turn that user into a renter before they even begin a search for storage.
When starting on social media, it is important to pick one or two platforms and do them well first. The other channels available are Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and more! There are numerous tools that can help you in managing posts and listening to conversations on social media such as Hootsuite, Buffer and Reputation.com.
4. Reputation Management
The last piece that you should focus on for online presence is reputation management. Customers are going to review your storage place, whether you ask them to or not. The ones that are going to review without asking are the really upset customers or the really happy customers. Make sure that you are answering those reviews and using them to make a better customer experience going forward.
The other piece is asking for reviews. Employing a program to automatically ask for reviews when a move-in or move-out occurs is the easiest way to gain reviews. Training the manager to let the customer know they are going to receive the email is essential in receiving emails because 68-percent of consumers will leave a local business review when asked.
Why is reputation management important? Getting reviews is important in attracting customers. Consumers are basing more and more of their purchasing decisions on reviews, and storage is no different. Consumers look not only for positive reviews, but how the company is responding to negative ones. If the company shows compassion and a want to do better, that is more impactful to the potential customer.
In addition to the influencing the purchasing behavior of a customer, reviews help a company rank well on Google. Reviews can influence your position on the map. This is significant to storage facilities since the choice in where a company is storing is often based on location. Additionally, Google now launched a knowledge card that shows reviews from across the web, from sites like Facebook and Sparefoot. A customer can see the star rating a company has on those sites.
Managing your reputation online can be an intimidating process, but there are platforms out there that can help you with this. Platforms like Reputation.com, Trust Pilot and Review Push and can help in requesting reviews and managing your responses to the reviews. Some of the platforms even have an API into your management software to directly send out the review request when a move-in and move-out occur.
While these four components are not inclusive on everything that goes into managing your store’s online presence, they are a good starting point in ensuring that your storage facility reaches your potential customers. Your facility’s online presence is important as you build your brand awareness in your target market.