How do you make your website sizzle in three easy steps?
- Drop the hard sell.
- Post content that interests your customers.
- Become a trusted community resource.
While web marketing tends to focus on the SEO benefits of keyword use and frequent posting to improve your Google search ranking, the right approach to online content can turn a humble mom-and-pop into a powerhouse that dwarfs the competition. Getting there may require equal parts inspiration and perspiration, but the financial rewards of a content makeover can truly supersize your marketing.
One picture is worth a thousand words. But avoid stock photography. They don’t believe that.
— Anne Ballard, president of marketing, training and development services at Universal Storage Group
Anne Ballard, president of marketing, training and development services for Atlanta, GA-based Universal Storage Group, has seen firsthand what customer-centric content and community involvement have done for her company’s 46 facilities in 11 states.
“Our repeat and referral business, including events and marketing, accounted for 45 percent of all of our leases last year,” Ballard said. “Our cost per lease was under $40, where most people are spending hundreds.”
To download a free white paper about modern marketing tactics for independent storage operators, visit selfstora.ge/competelikeREITs.
Naturally, the basics (unit sizes, prices, features, rental info) deserve top billing on your website. But what you do with the rest of your site could boost your occupancy rate.
Here are five ways to get the most out of your web content.
Research shows that online readers tend to scan content rather than read word for word. As a result, short paragraphs using everyday words convey more to the average online reader than lengthy, flowery prose.
“It’s important to always keep the end user in mind,” said Drew Belle Elsey, content editor at ROI Online, an Internet marketing firm in Amarillo, TX. “We interview each client’s customers to find out their wants and needs in order to create smart content that is specifically geared toward that audience.”
For a condensed overview of web style, visit Usability.gov.
2. Make a connection.
Ballard said some storage operators can’t seem to kick the hard sell on price—even when research shows consumers care more about location, convenience and even hours than saving a few bucks. In fact, most of her customers don’t even check out more than one storage facility.
“It’s not about price, but managers think it’s about price,” she said. “So they’re spending all their online time talking about price when they really don’t even need to mention it.”
Instead, she recommends a soft-sell approach to connect with potential tenants.
“For customers, storage is personal. They have an emotional attachment to the things they store,” Ballard said. “Show them visuals—a welcoming video from your friendly manager, your sparkling-clean office. One picture is worth a thousand words. But avoid stock photography. They don’t believe that.”
3. Celebrate local color.
So what if storage facilities aren’t exactly photogenic? Images of local scenery, businesses, landmarks and attractions around town can help form a bond between you and your customers, especially those moving to town.
Storage owner and consultant Marc Goodin took a highly visual approach with his facility in Caraquet, New Brunswick, posting photos online of the village, fishing boats in the harbor and his signature on-site flower gardens.
“It’s not the customer who’s coming in today that you’re after. He’s going to come in anyway,” Goodin said. “You’re marketing to the potential customer who’s going to come down the road and choose you first because they’ve seen you online.”
4. Coordinate content with promotions.
Elsey develops web content in conjunction with rental promotions around seasonal themes: Spring means home organization and cleaning tips, summer triggers back-to-school topics, fall signals content around winterizing and storing RVs, boats and recreational equipment.
“We monitor Google search trends to see what people are looking for,” she said. “That’s really helpful.”
5. Become a community resource.
Local schools and businesses can be your best source of referrals if you get to know them, and make a point to promote them and their events on your website. Ballard’s facilities celebrate a local business of the month by posting a related video online; some facilities feature an online business directory as a community resource.
“Our websites come up number one organically because we constantly refresh them with local information and photos,” Ballard said.
Top image courtesy of Webdesigner Depot