By: Bill Hipsher, Director of Business Development, USstoragesearch.com
In the next issue of “Mini Storage Messenger” we have written an article about various ways to improve the performance of your various online self storage marketing efforts. We touch on several points but one area of improvement provided the most staggering numbers in test results. We have talked about pictures and their impact on buying decisions before. Below is an excerpt from the upcoming Mini Storage Messenger article:
The topic today isn’t new. In fact you will find other past posts on our blog where we have discussed the impact of content and images. Today we will share some stats, which we haven’t done in the past to illustrate our point. The point being – Content & Images Sell Your Self Storage Facility – Not Pricing Alone.
Curb appeal applies not only to your physical location but also to your online marketing efforts. A potential tenant is likely to “see” your facility for the first time virtually. You only have one chance to make sure the first impression is one that sells that potential tenant on your facility over your competitors.
Much has been said recently that many self storage websites use pricing as the primary selling point, however, US Storage Search has conducted heavy user testing that proves online conversions are largely determined by the product that is presented to them online. A quality product that meets a tenant’s needs and is convenient to them will trump pricing the vast majority of the time. One month’s free rent is a great special but consumers can quickly weigh the cost and hassle tomorrow that comes from saving $55-$150 today. Yes, there are “special hoppers” and those that need a unit & a deal quickly but the long-term tenant base you want to grow is looking for a product that meets their needs. To acquire this tenant you need to sell your product on everything you offer outside of price. To sell your facility to potential tenants on what you offer outside of pricing you must paint the right picture.
Take a moment to look at the pictures on all of your different online marketing channels. I’m sure you have dozens of online marketing outlets, your own website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, directories, yellow pages, FourSquare – the list goes on and on. One problem that many of us run into is that there are so many listings to manage that we don’t take the time to get the most out of many of them, nor do we regularly update them.
Now that you took a quick review of your online marketing channels and what a visitor can see there, let me ask you a question. How many of these sites have you uploaded all the pictures you are allowed to? (Quick Note – currently you can post 4 pictures on your USstoragesearch.com listing). Are the pictures unique? If you weren’t the owner/operator/manager of your property would your pictures make you want to click on a listing to get more information? Pictures sell and have a HUGE impact on your online marketing efforts.
We said we’d share some facts & figures on click-thru rate impact an image can have. We conducted a test that included 5 variations of ads found on USstoragesearch.com.
The results for a single facility operator’s listing were quite amazing:
The results for operators with multiple facilities in the same market were even more dramatic:
What are the reasons for the sharp increase in click-through and conversion rates? There are several but we will just hit on a couple of them today.
First, as you already know, except in times of dire & immediate necessity, most consumers take relative care in choosing a storage unit. They are choosing to keep the items that are going into storage rather than disposing of the items so there is some value in those possessions (the value today may diminish over time as we all know and what is important today is often abandoned later on). As such they want to ensure said value is protected by whatever storage unit they choose. By not having real pictures or only sharing a logo/map the consumer doesn’t feel as though they are getting enough information visually to make a decision.
Second, there is often some thought by consumers that “if the facility isn’t going to show me pictures they might have something to hide.” The reason for the quotation marks is because this exact comment has been made multiple times during independent user testing completed on USstoragesearch.com
Third, when an operator has multiple facilities in the same market but shows the same logo in search results or the same stock photo we will see the click-through and conversion rates reduced even further as you move down the list of available facilities. The reason for this was because the visitor often will make an assumption that the details they saw for the first facility with that same logo are the same details they will see on the facility 2, 3, 4…and so on.
To close, let me share an example of one client that we shared this information with. This client had multiple facilities listed on USstoragesearch.com in the same market for several years. Each listing had the same logo because the client felt that building his “brand recognition” through USstoragesearch.com was just as important as gaining new tenants. This client saw decent performance from their listing on USstoragesearch.com but nowhere near the results other members in the same markets were seeing. We tried for several years to get the client to change from a logo to real photos of each facility. Finally, there was a change in the marketing management team and the new team took our advice and provided us with 4 unique, high quality photos of each of their facilities. Each facility now had
- one picture of the front of the facility as seen from the street,
- one picture representative of their units,
- one picture showing an amenity or feature (i.e. front gate, security cameras, 24/7 access pad)
- one picture showing a staff that appeared friendly, inviting & professional and/or a clean office area with moving supplies.
The month after these changes were made this client saw their click through rate nearly double & a more than 200% increase in new tenants from their listings on USstoragesearch.com. We realize, and hope you do too, that these results won’t hold true at these levels for every client. General market conditions on a city-by-city basis will affect the overall effectiveness of listing changes/improvements. Also, some facilities just don’t show as well in pictures as others. What we do know is that overall, the improvements on USstoragesearch.com for facilities that have taken the time to load the 4 types of pictures listed above and to ensure the content (description, specials, etc.) is current have overall seen a positive increase in the performance of their self storage listing.
Pictures are just one of several things you can do to help improve the performance of your various online marketing efforts. Please be sure to read the entire article in the “Internet Innovations” section of the upcoming “Mini Storage Messenger”.
About Bill Hipsher
Bill Hipsher (@billhipsher) is the Director of Business Development for USstoragesearch.com, the largest self storage website. Bill is responsible for all partnerships/affiliations and the USstoragesearch.com Self Storage Network, including Storage.com and StorageUnit.com. Bill also oversees the US Storage Search social media and SEO teams. In addition to his online marketing background, he has a more than 15 years of experience in real estate development, management and marketing, having various roles in more than 200 storage, multi-family, hospitality and commercial real estate projects.
USstoragesearch.com is a trusted storage partner; serving the storage industry with aggressive and cost-effective online self storage marketing. Established in 2004, USstoragesearch.com is the self storage industry leader with the largest and longest standing storage directory with the largest member base, featuring over 18,000 member facilities. Storage customers using the USstoragesearch.com online reservation network, which includes high-quality partner sites like Storageunit.com, & Storage.com, search real-time available storage units by facility location, unit size, property features and specials. Customers have an easy way to find, compare and securely reserve storage by credit card in minutes. These real-time reservations are proven to convert to rentals for member facilities more than 90% of the time.
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