The internet has changed the way people search for self storage. And as more and more people jump on their computer or pull out their tablets and mobile devices to search for storage locations and consider their options, it is clear that the internet is an increasingly vital sales channel for self storage businesses to consistently generate new customers.
And as the internet has become a valuable sales channel to generate new customers each month, more operators and self storage locations in Lakeland, FL (and around the country) are vying for position online to win the business of self storage shoppers, making it a very competitive sales channel, with smaller operators struggling to keep pace with the formidable budgets of large operators and aggregators. This issue prevails in smaller markets as well as larger metro areas.
Lakeland 98 Self Storage, a 10MM facility, opened it’s doors in June 2011. Owner and entrepreneur Gary Cardamone understood the importance of the internet to building it’s retail business, and hired a well-known self storage internet marketing firm, to handle building it’s website and manage it’s ongoing SEO and online marketing strategy. After one year year, and many internet marketing vendor bills later, Lakeland 98 was still generating no new customers from their website.
Lakeland 98 Self Storage has a weak internet presence and is failing to generate new customers from the internet.
All prospective customers using the internet to shop for self storage in the Lakeland, FL area are being lost to competitors. The result is a significant amount of lost revenue. Potentially tens of thousands of dollars per month. With a significant debt service and occupancy hovering around 50-60% Lakeland was struggling to turn a profit.
Lakeland’s difficulty acquiring new customers from the internet can be attributed to several factors:
Highly competitive market
The self storage market in Lakeland, FL is highly competitive. As prospective customers increasingly use the internet to research storage options in the area that battle for position online intensifies. Larger operators and aggregators like Extra Space, Cubesmart, Uncle Bob’s and Sparefoot dominate the search listings and, as a result, win the lion’s share of organic internet search traffic and the resulting storage rentals.
Marketing firm not getting the job done
Although Lakeland 98 had hired self storage internet marketing company to bolster their online presence, and capture internet shoppers, it is clear the firm is doing little more than cashing their check each month. After one year the location was effectively generating zero new customers from the their website and the internet as a whole.
Poor SEO: No rankings in organic google search results
When someone in the Lakeland, FL area would search Google for self storage options in Lakeland, Fl, Lakeland 98 Self Storage was nowhere to be found. The only storage locations a prospective customer would find in Google were those of competitor locations.
Poorly designed website and user experience not converting visitors into customers
Lakeland 98’s existing website was poorly designed. The overall user experience failed to engage or compel prospective customers in any meaningful way. Storage options and reservation tools either didn’t exist or were hard to find. In the end, the few potential customers that did visit the site rarely resulted in a new storage unit reservation or phone call requesting more information.
Lakeland 98 asked MARSH8 to fully evaluate its existing internet marketing practices, and outline an aggressive strategy to enable the property to effectively compete for new self storage customers on the internet.
The objective of the new strategy was simple: generate storage unit reservation requests and new customer inquires from the internet.
To meet the challenge, an aggressive, multi-faceted internet marketing program was adopted. It sought to raise Lakeland 98’s online visibility, increase organic search rankings in Google, drive increased traffic to the website, and improve the website design and user experience to better convert website visitors into customers (through online reservation requests or phone calls to the property).
Over several months, the following solutions were implemented:
A new website and improved user experience
Since a website forms the foundation of any good internet marketing program, MARSH8 built Lakeland 98 a new website from the ground up. One of the website’s most important functions: turn visitors into customers. That is accomplished by creating a strong user experience that would engage customers and drive online reservation requests and make it easy and to reserve a storage unit.
Improved website user experience.
The fact is, what your website looks like matters. In internet jargon, that it is referred to as user experience. In self storage a high-quality website design with a well-thought out user experience is often overlooked. And that can mean the difference between a prospective customer calling your storage location or someone elses.
Aggressive SEO strategy
To bring more storage shoppers and organic search traffic to the website, MARSH8 Developed a comprehensive SEO strategy, targeting the most valuable keyword terms, capable of reaching the greatest number of prospective customers searching for storage in the Lakeland, FL area.(show graphics of website, reservation buttons etc...
Google search advertising
Google search advertising can be a very effective way of reaching prospective customers when they are looking for self storage options. However, setting up campaigns properly and closely monitoring performance is critical to generating positive ROI. It’s easy to launch a campaign and pay for a lot of traffic. But the campaign is only successful if that traffic is driving leads and new customers cost effectively.
With a new marketing program in place, it was important that Lakeland 98 had a clear understanding of what the efforts were ultimately producing. MARSH8 implemented a tracking plan to measure the performance and overall effectiveness of the entire internet marketing program. Unique phone numbers were put in place on the website to track calls received, delineating between organic and paid traffic.
Today it is likely that 15-30% of visitors to a self storage website are viewing the site through their mobile phone. Thus it is important that Lakeland 98 provided visitors a mobile version of their website optimized for viewing on a mobile phone. This provides the user with a better experience and results in better engagement and more new customer reservations and inquiries. Because a lot of self storage properties have yet to adopt this practice, having a mobile ready site represents an opportunity to differentiate from the competition.
Within six months, the results were dramatic.
Lakeland 98 had gone from a worst-case-scenario on the internet to one of the most highly visible self storage locations in Google, generating 30+ new reservation requests and inquiries each month.
With a well-crafted and sustained internet marketing program it had recaptured the online market from well-positioned compeititors in the competitive region of Lakeland, Florida.
With significant traffic volume and a vastly improved website user experience, Lakeland 98 now generates a significant amount of business from the internet each month, and has increased occupancy by 40%, and generating an over $300,000 in additional sales, that would have otherwise been earned by a local competitor.
Today, when someone in the Lakeland, FL area is looking online for self storage options, Lakeland 98 is a highly visible and desirable option, now has a good chance of winning the business.
With the internet being a vital (and ultra competitive) sales channel for acquiring self storage customers and increasing location occupancy, learn how one self storage property adopted a smart and sustained internet marketing strategy, and went from worst, to first...
Lakeland 98 Self Storage
A self storage internet marketing success story
Gary Cardamone, Owner, Developer, Lakeland 98 Self Storage
“I was fairly skeptical of what MARSH8 believed they could achieve with our property. But a little over a year later, the results have been incredible and speak for themselves. We get new reservations rolling in everyday from our website. That’s producing over of $100,000 annual sales increase and significant uptick in occupancy, that we would never have had otherwise. Our return on investment has been worth every penny, many times over.”
SELF STORAGE MARKETING