Digital Marketing for 2021: 5 Things Self-Storage Operators Must Do


The digital-marketing landscape is constantly evolving. As we move into 2021, there are a few things you need to do around your strategy if you want your self-storage business to be relevant and effective. Read on to learn what they are.

1. Improve Your ‘Core Web Vitals’

Core Web Vitals (CWV) are a new set of website-ranking factors being introduced by Google in 2021. A release date hasn’t been announced, but Google will give several months’ notice, so business owners have time to make the necessary changes.

CWV are trackable metrics that’ll show whether a website is quick and responsive and doesn’t shift around while loading. Their goal is to boost sites that offer a good user experience (UX). (If your site performs poorly, it won’t show as high on search results.) Google has added many UX factors to its rankings in the past, such as site speed, mobile friendliness and others. These are the three new elements being added to the mix:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures page-loading performance, looking at how quickly your website loads the largest image or text block within the user’s view. In this instance, “large” is determined by how much of a screen the item consumes, not file size. For a good UX, Google wants LCP to occur within 2.5 seconds.
  • First Input Delay (FIP): This measures interactivity, looking at the amount of time between when a page loads and a user can actually to interact with it, for example successfully click a button or link. Google says FIP should be less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This measures visual stability. It’s about ensuring your website loads things in a user-friendly way, without unexpected layout shifts. The target number for CLS is .1 or lower.

You can check how well your website is doing on these factors in the Core Web Vitals report in Google’s help center. If it reveals issues, talk to your Web team about them.

2. Use Automation in Your Google Ads

Over the past few years, automation has become increasingly important in Google Ads. The company introduced responsive search and display ads, which adapt to show various combinations of headlines and descriptions, and dynamic search ads, which generate headlines based on what a searcher typed, with no input from the advertiser whatsoever. Further, Google will sometimes create ads in groups it thinks would benefit.

On top of this is a whole host of automated bidding strategies to which Google is continually adding. These use machine learning to adjust the bids on your account. Most of the time, they improve bidding more than manual account changes could. If you haven’t tested any of these options before, now’s the time.

3. Increase Focus on Google My Business

Even before the pandemic, it was important to keep up with changes to Google My Business (GMB). Since COVID-19, the GMB development team has been working to add still more features, including a new post type that allows you to communicate any big product or service updates to customers. The following health- and safety-related listing attributes have also been added: 

  • Appointment required
  • Mask required
  • Staff undergoes temperature checks
  • Staff wears masks
  • Temperature check required

One important new feature for self-storage operators is a “more hours” feature. Previously, you could only list one set of hours, which meant you often had to choose between showing your gate or office hours. Now you can set these separately.

GMB used to be something you could just set and forget. Now it’s important to keep up with this constantly changing platform as it becomes a channel in which you can communicate with customers and provide more real-time information.

4. Ensure Website Security

There’s been a lot of focus placed on the move to HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure) over the past few years. We’re now at a point where around 95 percent of pages listed on the first page of Google search results are secure. Consumers are also becoming savvier and recognize the padlock in their browser as a sign that a website is properly secured.

If your self-storage website isn’t on HTTPS, then this is one of the most important things you need to do in the new year. There’s a heap of benefits associated with the transition, including:

  • Sites using HTTPS load quicker and tend to rank higher.
  • Businesses that use HTTPS feature higher on Google than those that don’t.
  • Google Chrome notifies users when a site isn’t secure, often resulting in a customer being more cautious about proceeding or even leaving the site altogether.

Setup is relatively straightforward and requires something called a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. This proves the website provider is who it says it is and that you own the site. Most hosting providers will offer this service for free within their control panel, so check with yours. You can also use a service like Let’s Encrypt to get a free SSL certificate if you need one.

5.  Embrace the Benefits of Video

Video continues to grow in popularity, and your customers are getting more accustomed to seeing it on the websites they visit. When you look at the statistics, you can see time and again that video increases user interaction with a product or service. It makes a prospect more likely to move down the funnel toward becoming a self-storage customer.

The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is also true when it comes to video. People looking for self-storage may have a lot of common questions about what units are like inside, how access works and where to park for loading/unloading. A virtual facility tour can provide a wealth of information and reassure customers you’re the right choice. With new technology, the ability to create a video of your site is within very easy reach. Why not make 2021 the year you embrace the benefits?

Digital marketing changes rapidly, so it’s critical to keep pace. Do the five important things listed above to ensure your 2021 marketing strategy is on target.

Ben Hook is a marketing strategist at Storist, a digital marketing agency providing services exclusively to the self-storage industry. His website provides storage marketing advice and updates designed to help increase online visibility and occupancy rates. You can reach him via email at ben@storist.org.



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