Get this: 90% of consumers read online customer reviews before visiting a business. Here’s another eye-opener: 88% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation! So, as you can see, online reviews can really make or break your self storage business. But how to get online reviews for your small business? Let's dive in.
How Online Review Help Your Self Storage Business
A nice-looking self storage facility with great outdoor signage and curb appeal is important to attract customers, however, the importance of online reviews in the internet age cannot be stressed. While good reviews are of course ideal, even negative reviews provide opportunities for growth. Here’s a look at the ways online customer reviews impact your self storage business.
Statistics about the benefits of online reviews are in abundance. Along with the previously mentioned 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, The Spiegel Research Center reports that “The purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than the purchase likelihood of a product with no reviews.” You read that right – just five reviews can make a difference. Of course, the more the merrier!
Differentiating from REITs
Competition in the self storage space can be challenging, especially with capital-heavy REITs taking away business. This means it’s a tenants’ market, and they often have the upperhand when it comes to deciding which facility will get their business. We’ve discussed many ways to compete with REITs, but outnumbering them with positive online reviews is sure to bring consumers to you instead of them.
Here’s a sobering thought for marketers: An overwhelming 96% of people are skeptical of advertising. So who do they trust? Their peers! Studies show that consumers are 92% more likely to trust them versus advertising when it comes to purchasing decisions. And, because online reviews come from their peers and not a marketing agency, this helps build trust far more than any advertisement could. Of course, you don’t want to create fake reviews in an attempt to lure people in. Savvy consumers can spot these a mile away, doing more harm than good.
Many self storage owners may be focused on their physical facility, but it’s important to also focus on their virtual presence utilizing search engine optimization (SEO). There are a number of ways to boost SEO value on your website, but one method is reviews. Why? Google likes frequent updates to pages. So, an active review page helps improve search rankings. Acquiring reviews across other sites (Google Reviews, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) is also beneficial for SEO.
Here’s when you can turn a negative into a positive. Of course, ideally all of your online reviews are positive, touting how great your self storage facility is. These positive reviews can be reinforced through thank you emails, discounts, and special promotions. On the other hand, negative reviews allow you to rectify problems and address concerns so that a customer will give you another chance (and stop poor word-of-mouth). When a consumer reading online reviews sees that a business responded, and took action to correct the issue, they’re usually much more likely to do business with you. Read more about “second chances” on Inc.
Providing Free Advertising
Advertising is often expensive, and unfortunately, many people don’t trust it. However, online reviews offer free advertising, putting your brand name and products out there to people who may not have known about your self storage business otherwise. This gives smaller owners/operators the type of exposure they could probably never afford through traditional advertising methods. Once you have acquired the positive reviews, you can use them to your advantage, highlighting them on your website, in promotional materials, in advertising, and on your social media pages.
How to Get Online Reviews from Customers in 8 Simple Steps
Of course, it’s easy for us to tell you to get online reviews, but how do you go about getting them? Here are just a few of the ways to get you in the online review mindset!
1. Just Ask!
If you’ve met or exceeded a customer’s expectations (and you’ll usually know), sometimes it really is as easy as asking! In fact, studies show that more than 70% of consumers will leave a review if you simply just ask them. So, don’t let a happy customer get away without asking them to do you a solid by leaving you a positive review.
2. Offer Rewards
Some people may think leaving a review is a hassle, but some type of incentive can quickly change their mind – and it doesn’t have to be much! For example, you could offer them 10% off their next month’s rent, a free self-storage retail item if you sell them, or other exclusive offers.
3. Actively Engage
Wondering how to get great online reviews? Engage with customers! It’s frustrating for them when they leave a review or feedback and get nothing in return. So, write back to people who have left reviews in the past, right on your site. When new customers see that you take the time to respond (and always be polite), this will inspire them to leave their thoughts. And, you don’t have to respond with a novel; a simple “Thanks!” when someone leaves a positive review, and more importantly, an offer to make things right when someone leaves a negative review is more than enough.
4. Survey Customers
Sometimes, sending a consumer survey is the best way to get feedback. Many eCommerce businesses use a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey to gain feedback, reward customers, and correct potential problems. When sending surveys, be sure to include a disclaimer that their responses may be used on promotional materials, etc.
5. Send Reminders
After someone begins using your self storage facility, they may forget to return to your site to leave a review. Send a reminder email thanking them for their tenantship and asking them to leave a review, with a link that will send them right to your page. You can also include this link on monthly billing statements, newsletters, etc.
6. Use In-App Messaging
Are you using an app, or smart entry system? When someone is actively using it can be an opportune time to ask them to review you. A simple pop-up could inquire, “How Would You Rate Us on a Scale of 1-5” (just be sure to offer a “No Thanks” option so as not to be a nuisance).
7. Use Third-Party Review Sites
Although people can say whatever they want about you on third-party review sites like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, don’t be scared if you are confident in your facility and services. If a customer leaves a positive review on one of these third-party sites, it can give you a real boost SEO-wise. To learn more about managing and using third-party sites to your advantage, check out this blog from Clickx.
8. Go Offline
Not all business is conducted online! You can place placards on your countertops directing consumers to a site where they can leave a review (QR codes have made a comeback, meaning consumers can simply scan it to take a survey). You can also ask customers to review you on a call. After they’ve phoned your facility and talked to the manager or representative, ask them to review your company at the end of the call. Many banks and other customer-service-related companies are employing this tactic.
Let Storelocal Help with Online Reviews
Online reviews can really have an impact on your business and your bottom line. They help keep current customers satisfied, allow you to fix problems for unsatisfied customers, and can turn one-time buyers into long-term customers and loyal advocates for your brand. We hope this has helped you think about how to get more online reviews!
Of course, you’ve already got a lot on your plate as a self storage owner/operator. If you feel ill-equipped to begin a marketing program on your own, or even your best marketing efforts don’t seem to be working, consider becoming a member of the Storelocal self storage cooperative. We are the nation’s only cooperative created by independent self storage operators. As a member, you’ll gain access to Storelocal’s products and services that can help with marketing, including reputation management software for monitoring online reviews and much more. Read more about reputation management for self storage facilities here.