2016 brought big changes to the way self storage companies big and small market, measure, and manage their brands. We have witnessed the accelerated evolution of local search marketing and social media applications for business, as well as the steady decline of some other marketing avenues such as print directories. With all that has changed in 2016, it is vital for the continued success of your business to prepare yourself for the new changes that will occur in 2017. While there is no crystal ball that can predict what changes or challenges the New Year will bring in the way of self storage marketing, by studying the marketing trends of years passed we can get a better idea of what to expect. These are some of the most important and most talked about online marketing aspects every self storage operator should be keen to in 2017:
In the past, online social media applications were considered by many to be a pop culture phenomenon that had little relevance in a business environment and to most business owners, a waste of time. Since then, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have proven that they have a lot more to offer than just a platform for college students to update their current relationship status.
Offering paid advertising the same way the search engines (i.e. Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.) do, along with the opportunity to connect with both your key demographic and your fellow industry professionals, social media sites have come to serve as a catalyst for self storage operators to get messages out to the community.
A short 140 character “tweet” can inform potential tenants of one-time deals, current promotions, available unit sizes, and more. With the success and growth of Facebook and the rapidly growing Twitter community, it is important to keep in mind how the perception of these online applications has changed since their advent. When we start to see expansion in social media services and new applications being launched in 2017, we must take a retrospective look at how silly many people thought the idea of Twitter was when it was first launched in 2012 before we dismiss them as a waste of time. Twitter is currently ranked the #10 most popular website in the world, according to Alexa.com, trailing Facebook at #2.
In a book written by two Harvard scientists titled “Connected,” the authors explain how social networks influence our ideas, emotions, health, relationships, behavior, politics, and more. With the power to influence almost every aspect of human life, it is safe to say that social media will remain one of the most viable and affordable self storage marketing solutions for years to come.
In 2016, search engine algorithms changed countless times, much to the dismay of SEOs. We saw MSN/Bing virtually absorb Yahoo! in the much talked about merger, which drastically effected many online marketing campaigns. With approximately 90% of Yahoo’s search results now being drawn from Bing, the “Big Three” has basically been taken down to two.
Google made many changes and tweaks to its algorithm in 2016 to try to weed out the websites that it considered to be spam-oriented and focused more on local search. Its biggest change occurred in Q4 when many legitimate businesses saw their rankings go from page one page 10 overnight. Although Google has made further adjustments and most of the sites were able to regain their positions at the top, it is important to remember that this will happen again. It is not a question of if, just a matter of when.
Self storage operators should keep this in mind, and not take a high rank for a competitive key word for granted. If you are at the top, maintaining your website and keeping it updated with original, quality content is crucial when it comes to looking good in the eyes of Google. If you are currently ranking well for a key term, but your site isn’t up to par, consider bringing it up to current standards to avoid getting slapped back into Internet limbo by the search engines. Consistency is a key factor when it comes to search engine optimization; you can’t just quit while you are ahead and expect to win the race.
In this era where technology reins king, smartphones and tablet devices are becoming the new standard in mobile communication. If you are reading this, chances are you own one of these devices, and so does everyone else in your office. As mobile phone technology advances, an influx of mobile browser users will follow. More people will be using their mobile phones to search for what they want, and if what they want happens to be self storage, your website needs to be accessible to them via their mobile device. While this won’t make a huge difference in your occupancy percentages, having a website that cannot be displayed on a mobile phone could cause your business to lose potential tenants who want a website they can access anywhere, anytime.
What does your current Web presence say about your brand? Does it draw tenants in by boasting clean facilities, secure premises, and friendly managers, or does it scare potential tenants away with bad reviews and unclaimed directory listings? Maintaining an appealing online presence will not only sway users who are reading reviews of your facility, but the search engine rankings as well.
Reviews are estimated to contribute approximately 10% to your overall search engine ranking. If you have received negative reviews by frustrated tenants or disgruntled ex-employees, it is important to issue an official company response addressing the matter in the most professional way possible, as soon as possible. In addition, having a few positive reviews for every negative can help to level out your overall rating.
Being aware of what is being said about your business online is one of the most commonly overlooked, yet extremely important parts of building brand awareness for a well rounded self storage marketing campaign. If the internet is buzzing about your brand, you need to make sure that buzz is a positive one. If it isn’t, taking steps to negate those less than flattering reviews will help your business maintain a good online reputation. With social media and directory websites sprouting up left and right, staying aware of your online reputation should not be overlooked in 2017.