We live in the digital age, an age in which consumers have instant access to information. This means that the digital footprint of your self-storage facility has never been more essential for connecting with potential tenants. You have to meet them where they are, and the vast majority of them have moved on to shopping on the web.
Fortunately, your online presence has two key components that are relatively easy to manage: business listings and customer reviews. Here’s why each one is very important to your success and how to make them exceptional.
Claim and create your business listings
Accurate and consistent business listings will help you better position and market your self-storage brand, improve search engine optimization (SEO), and make your operation accessible to customers when and where they need you. . These online listings contain all the essential details about your establishment, such as name, address, phone number, website, opening hours, map, amenities, and more.
But it does not stop there. A business listing is also an opportunity to grab and hold a customer’s attention. The average human attention span is less than nine seconds. That’s all you have to grab the audience’s attention and get them to absorb your information. You can do this by adding photos and videos to your ads. These work better than plain text because the user can interact with them quickly. Studies show that visual content receives 416% more interaction than written content alone.
There are many SEO sites available, almost too many, in fact. You need to focus on those that will be most relevant to your self-storage business. Some are industry specific while others are universal. For example, Yelp is often used to find restaurants, while Angie’s List is used to find services such as plumbing or cleaning. The most prominent business listing sites are Google and Facebook, making it a must. Yellow Pages and Bing are also recommended.
The goal is for your self-storage facility to be found online as quickly as possible. Optimizing your business listings with relevant keywords and accurate information will help. Here are three simple steps. Keep in mind that the more information you have, the better!
- Fill in the information completely, accurately, and in exactly the same way on every site.
- Complete the “about” section by adding relevant keywords that your customers use when searching for self-storage. The Google Keyword Planner can help you.
- Add visual content such as photos. Aim for at least three per category – indoors, outdoors and staff work. Also add any images that represent your brand image, such as your logo or signage.
If it feels like it takes time, it’s worth it. There are also great paid resources and automation tools you can use to make this task easier. They allow you to create your business listing once and deploy it on the different sites.
Why reviews are important
The second part of the strategy to improve the digital footprint of your self-storage establishment concerns online customer reviews. Here are some quick stats:
- 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
- Customers are likely to spend 31% more with businesses that have great reviews.
- 92% of users will use a local business if it has at least 4 stars.
- Reliability, expertise and professionalism are the most important reputational traits for a local business.
- 86% of customers will hesitate to purchase from a business with negative reviews.
Now more than ever, a positive online presence is vital to your business. Customer reviews are the biggest source of social trust, which can encourage prospects to make a purchase. Positive results lead to more sales and boost SEO, making your establishment more visible.
Each reviewer provides your business with unique content, and each search engine has a way to index and surface it. The more you can feed the content machine, the more your self-storage brand will be favored by the algorithms. Remember that SEO helps the customer find your business faster!
Think about your own online shopping experience. Like many people, you’re probably more likely to make a purchase after reading positive reviews, and less likely if you see an alarming number of negative reviews. It makes sense: if most people have a good or bad experience, why should yours be any different?
Collect reviews online
The more satisfied your self-storage customers are, the more likely they are to share a review across multiple platforms, increasing your multi-channel footprint. Plus, you can learn about your business from these reviews. For example, if reliability, expertise and professionalism are the most important characteristics for local businesses, you should hire staff who match these attributes. If a client tells you something is important to them, this is an opportunity to implement social listening skills. Execute what your customers tell you, otherwise they will easily move on to your competitors.
So how do you get online reviews? Simple: you ask! After a new self-storage tenant settles in, ask them to share a review of their experience with your business. You can even make the process easier by providing them with a link or QR code via office signage, text, or email. Research shows that seven out of 10 people will leave an online review when asked.
Once you have reviews, display them publicly on your website, social media, print ads, flyers, online banner ads and more! Be creative and interactive with posts. Now is the time to shine and show the public why you are the better choice than the competition.
Reverse negative reviews
Most self-storage operators don’t consider a negative review a potential giveaway, but it is when handled correctly. Your gut reaction may be to delete it and make it go away, but that’s not the answer. Instead, be responsive, apologize, and offer a fair solution. This is the way to change the mindset of the disgruntled consumer. You will also earn the respect of prospects by showing them that your end goal is to create a positive result.
If your self-storage business receives a negative review online, follow these steps:
- Respond immediately.
- Be authentic. Admit the error, if justified, and publicly apologize.
- Correct any inaccuracies mentioned.
- Highlight all of your strengths in the response.
- Write like a person, not like a company.
- If necessary, take the conversation offline to resolve the issue.
If that seems too long, again, there are some great paid resources and automation tools you can use to quickly track, manage, and respond to reviews. Don’t be wary of these programs, as most are user-friendly and easy to learn. You can also attend online training sessions and rely on help forums for answers to frequently asked questions. The more you handle this task, the faster you will become a pro.
A good online reputation is one of the most powerful marketing assets a self-storage facility can have. Accurate and detailed business listings backed by positive customer reviews provide traction in online searches. This will lead to greater exposure and new customers.
Jessica Johnson is Vice President of Storage Business Owners Alliance LLC, a buying group for American self-storage operators. She has over 20 years of experience in operations, finance, event management, and competitive market research and analysis. To reach her, call 248.245.900.