The recently released Self Storage Association of Australasia (SSAA) Demand Study for 2010 has highlighted a whole lot of interesting data about the Australian Self Storage industry – and in particular how potential customers are increasingly looking to the web as a primary source for finding out how and where they can store their things.
The SSAA study highlights a dramatic increase in opportunities for Self Storage Operators to use the internet to market and promote their business online – to increase enquiries and actually make online sales.
What do Self Storage customers want Online?
The SSAA asked both Potential and Existing storers to indicate what features they would like to see on a self storage facility’s website. Some of the most requested functionality include…
|List of units available & prices||
|Ability to pay their account online||
|Ability to see their account status online||
|Ability to book a unit & pay a deposit online||
(figures represent the percentage of respondents indicating a feature was desirable)
With the steady increase in eCommerce over the last 5-10 years, web users are not only becoming more confident with using the web for online sales and enquiries – they are actually expecting theses services to be available. It is very possible that facilities not offering these types of services could be missing out on sales and losing market share to those that do.
Self Storage Website Features
Relatively few Self Storage websites are currently offering details of current listing availability and prices. The primary reason that Storage Operators tend not to include this type of information seems to be the effort associated with keeping this data up to date. An obvious (and relatively simple) solution is to integrate the website with the the facilities management software – then no extra effort is required to keep unit availability and storage price information on the website current.
The most widely used storage management software within Australia is Storman. Storman’s range of self storage software already has modules that integrate with the operators website, automatically updating space availability and allowing customers to view their account status, pay a storage invoice , or book (reserve) a space and pay a deposit – all from the operators own website.
Marketing your Self Storage website
Providing a website that offers the types of online services that customers are looking for is a great start – but unless they are able to find the website in the first place, it is of little real value.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) describes a process for improving the visibility of a website – making it easier for the website to be via web searches. Activities designed to improve a sites rankings in the search results, Increase traffic, and maximise online sales and enquiries, are just as important as having a website in the first place.
The two most important elements that are required for good rankings are:
- Good Quality, Unique, Keyword Rich Content – The content on your Self Storage website should describe the services you offer, using the “language” that your customers are likely to search for, and be informative as well as useful to your customers (and potential customers).
- Links to your site – Third party sites that link to you (especially if they are in the Storage niche) are critical to achieve good rankings. You should strive to get links from Industry sites (such as Self Storage Associations, like the SSAA), Business Directories, Industry related Listing services (such as SpaceOut), and possibly even your competitors.
Feel free to contact us here at WebConsulting if you’d like to find out more about Search Engine Optimisation or would like some assistance with the development of a Search Engine Optimisation strategy for your Self Storage website. We specialise in SEO services, and have a great deal of experience working with Self Storage operators and within the Australian self storage market.
Local Search for Self Storage
The nature of the self storage industry almost guarantees that people looking for storage space, will mostly be looking in a specific area. So when they are searching online they will most likely include a locality in their search query (e.g. “Self Storage Bathurst”, or “Self Storage Prices Sydney”, or very often even specific queries like “Space for Rent Footscray”).
Again, registering a space listing with online services like SpaceOut (which has a very strong “local” focus) is a good way to improve your visibility for local search queries. Also, forming alliances, and cross-linking with other storage facility websites in other localities (who are not your direct competitors) can also be a very effective mechanism to help raise your own local search profile.
Offering the types of online services that your existing and potential customers are asking for (and may soon be demanding) and ensuring that you are doing whatever you can to maximise the exposure of your website, are critical steps to make sure that your business not only survives, but thrives in the increasingly competitive future online.