Self-Storage: Go Mobile-first, get more units rented in 2018

When a tenant sees your self-storage facility, what do you think catches their eye most? Is it the colorful signage? Is it the impenetrable outside gate? Or, is it something more innocuous like colorful flowerbeds dotting the front office, or the fresh coat of paint?

As owners/operators of self-storage facilities, we must extend our mindsets beyond the brick and mortar. The meticulous dedication you have to your physical location must also translate online when potential customers are searching on their mobile phones.

It might be surprising to hear, but the customer’s online experience is just as crucial to success (if not more so) as nailing the face-to-face interaction when a customer walks into your facility to lease a unit. After all, an online search is how many people are introduced to your self-storage facility. Since 2016, mobile searches officially eclipsed desktop searches, with nearly 60% coming from mobile.

Making the shift to mobile-first will in turn lead to greater visibility online, with the opportunity to sell more units to interested tenants.

Don’t be Last in Line: What to Know about Mobile-First Indexing

Google’s mobile-first indexing algorithm has been looming since 2016 (with subsequent updates from Google since), but major implementations are looking to launch in 2018. And since Google drives 96% of mobile search traffic, this update will be one that either lands you customers, or plagues you for years to come.

Essentially, Google has already begun prioritizing mobile traffic over desktop traffic, and will continue to do so. To prepare yourself for the future that is now, here are three best practices to ensure that your self-storage business isn’t invisible.

Best Practice #1: Create a Mobile-Responsive Website

As we covered in July 2017, having a website that translates well to customers across multiple devices (mobile and desktop) is of utmost importance.

The good news: If your facility is already taking advantage of responsive web design, according to Google, it won’t have much to worry about when the mobile-first index is rolled out. But, if your self-storage facility hasn’t implemented responsive design, consider this your wake-up call.

Responsive design doesn’t have to equal dollar signs, but this isn’t an area we would recommend cutting corners on, either. You may have to reach out to your webmaster or designer to turn your static web presence into a responsive dynamo, but the investment is worth every penny. Not only will your online presence be primed for mobile-first indexing, but your facility will also gain SEO and traffic volume benefits by investing in a responsive web design.

Having a responsive website is just one aspect of a sound mobile experience for your self-storage business and customers. Which brings us to our next best practice: UX.

Best Practice #2: Understand UX’s Role in Building Trust and Sales

To capitalize on the customers visiting your website, you’ll have to go beyond responsiveness alone and focus on user experience (UX).

While you as the owner/operator may not know the specific element(s) responsible for driving that customer to your front office to lease a unit, you take great pride in the appearance of your self-storage business. It creates a more enticing, pleasant experience for your self-storage customer, even before they officially purchase your product.

Quickly, visit your own self-storage business on mobile. How long did it take you to find a unit? How long did the transaction take to lease a unit once you found one? Was the experience confusing to you? If the process was confusing to you, imagine how confusing the process is to a customer unfamiliar with your self-storage business.

According to an infographic provided by Formstack, 57% of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. Based on the previous exercise, wouldn’t you tend to agree?

To earn the leases necessary to your occupancy goals, your website will have to put the customer first. That means creating as few barriers as possible for your self-storage customers. The more intuitive and simple you can make your web experience to users, the more likely you are to convert that user into a full-fledged customer. Which brings us to our next best practice: Converting customers.

Best Practice #3: Sold! Use Conversion Elements to Close Customers

So, at this point, you’ve made sure your website is mobile-responsive, and is as UX friendly as possible. Now comes the fun part: converting those users visiting your website into customers who lease your units! How do we do this?

Like the previous best practices outlined, there’s too many considerations to cover within this blog post, but we’ll provide a few conversion best practices that are universally-recognized.

  • Use a Call to Action, or CTA: “Click here”, “Rent Now”, “Search”, “Select Unit” are some examples. But don’t be afraid to get creative with the actions you want users to take based on the brand your self-storage business has worked to cultivate
  • Keep your CTA “Above the Fold”: This means keeping the action where eyes are, and where fingers aren’t scrolling. If the desired action you want users to take is at the bottom of the page, you have little chance of earning the lease
  • Test, test, test!: This seems obvious, but test different conversion elements (size of font, how bold the letters are, the colors of the font itself) to see what works best for your facility

We’re assuming your conversion goal is to have more units leased online. To achieve this, consistently test different conversion elements to figure out what works best for your area and the customers you want to attract.

”Mobilize” Your Self-Storage’s Online Presence Before it’s Too Late

Before suffering the fate of losing a potential customer due to a subpar mobile experience, take these best practices to mind. And do so before Google’s mobile-first index algorithm is rolled out across the U.S. and abroad.

To see where your self-storage business stacks up, plug in the URL of your website here.

If your website passed the test, you’ll see a page like this (except for your own website).

We gave an example of the lengths owners/operators go to make the outside (in addition to the amenities) of a self-storage business appealing to potential customers. Take our best practices for mobile to heart. By paying a similar level of attention to your self-storage mobile experience, you won’t have anything to lose, and everything to gain from Google’s mobile-first index algorithm update.

Of course, if your team is lost after reading this, contact us, and we’ll do our best to take your strategy from mobile afterthought to mobile-first.

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