My home state is Michigan and I’m absolutely in love with the mitten. But sometimes opportunities take us other places. In 2013 I relocated my family to Alabama for an opportunity overseeing the marketing for a startup. It was a good experience, learned a lot. We enjoyed the sun, palm trees and gulf coast living.
After a little more than 2 years we had enough though, and were ready to go back home.
So in January of this year (2016) I decided that we were moving back to Michigan as soon as my daughter was finished with school. Even though that was several months away I went ahead and did some comparison shopping on moving trucks and settled on U-Haul.
Truck reservation confirmed for May 27th.
We spent the next few months going through the motions. I’ve moved a couple dozen times in my 35 years so I had it down to a science. As we rolled into early May I decided to look up some tips on packing and moving with kids over a long distance (1,000 miles) – something that could make it easy since we had 3 kids plus a pet in tow.
That’s when I realized that I hadn’t heard a peep from U-Haul.
No emails, no phone calls, no outreach.
Just to be safe I called to double check my reservation and everything was fine in the system. That’s when I remarked to my wife how much U-Haul was dropping the ball. There were so many “customer delight” opportunities they missed out on.
Audience Segmenting for Content Marketing
They have every opportunity to serve custom content based on their audience and the reservations they make. By the reservations alone they can segment people to short or long drip campaigns based on how close the reservation is to the move date.
Other data that can influence the topics, types of content and lead nurturing are:
- Truck size (and number of trucks)
- Distance traveled to the drop point
- Other equipment being reserved (tow dolly, appliance dolly, lift straps, pads, etc.)
- Most likely route to destination
How Customer Info Can Be Turned into Custom Content
Right off the top I can tell you that a lot of that data can be transformed into top of the funnel content like blog posts and even moving guides. If I’m preparing for a move and I don’t have a ton of experience, or it’s a different kind of move for me, there’s a ton of blog topics that could lead me back to U-Haul. When a company provides a wealth of information like moving and packing tips, destination resources, travel and safety information, how to travel with kids or pets, etc.
I’d be more inclined to book a truck after digesting their content.
It doesn’t matter if they’re a well-known brand. That top-of-the-funnel content marketing gives more organic search visibility and that will translate into more reservations for U-Haul.
Not to mention the content is genuinely helpful and that builds trust with a potential customer.
Does U-Haul have a blog? Not that I could easily find. After a lot of organic search digging I was only able to find some deeply buried articles and videos but it wasn’t much.
They have a YouTube channel with plenty of videos but they’re not well optimized and they’re not actively promoted outside of some social shares. If I can’t find it very easily through organic search, and have to go hunt for branded content, then it’s not being promoted properly.
Here’s some content they should be creating to use not only for lead acquisition at the top of the funnel but after reservations are made:
Truck Size/Packing Tips
Think number of boxes based on truck size. They should have plenty of data on the average number of boxes people buy. They already know how many boxes it takes for homes of certain sizes. I can pack a truck like a Tetris master but not everyone has mastered that skill. These types of tips can alleviate a lot of frustration for movers – and it helps if it’s easy to find it…
Travel tips based on distance being traveled and your end destination. This could include safe travel tips, driving statistics and fun facts, ideas on keeping kids occupied with game ideas for a longer trip, or how to help pets adjust over a long move.
They know where a truck is being dropped and they know the most popular cities where movers go. It would be so helpful to receive a well-written guide about a place you’re moving to that includes restaurants, stores, attractions, great food, service providers and local data a mover might find helpful (like the location of low overpasses that eat trucks.)
This kind of content could be especially helpful for college students who might move hundreds of miles or across the country to a completely new area. So what if the information is available online already, that’s no reason U-Haul can’t offer it and provide more value.
I can tell you from firsthand experience that moving when it’s 9 degrees outside and there’s a foot and a half of snow on the ground (when we left Michigan) is a lot different than moving when it’s 90 degrees and 100% humidity (when we left Alabama). The time of year, especially around holidays, provide plenty of opportunities for custom content topics that a mover could find helpful.
I remember one move where I had to tow a car behind a moving truck. I admit I had no idea what I was doing. When a mover reserves equipment for appliances, towing vehicles or moving straps these are all opportunities to educate a customer and make their experience better. There are countless opportunities to remove typical frustrations with content that can make for an enjoyable moving experience.
(If there is such a thing.)
Route to Destination
There are only so many expressways in the U.S. When I was looking at our route from Alabama to Michigan I was manually plotting out the rest areas and major truck stops so it would be easy to find a place to fuel, pee and pause. If they provided this information automatically, or had an interactive option to enter my route and get this information fed back, it would have saved me hours of work. That alone would make me a customer for life.
The same process could provide ideas for sightseeing along the way. My wife and I didn’t realize we were right next to the Corvette Museum until it was too late. I don’t fit in one but I’d have loved to plan it into my trip to go stare at them.
Types of Content that Can Delight Customers
Repair Clinic is a local company here in Michigan that puts out a ton of how-to videos on repairing appliances. They sell the parts, the videos show you how to fix it, and the content helps drive a lot of traffic to their brand.
U-Haul has the opportunity to create a range of content to bring in new business and keep current customers engaged.
Consider the fact that my reservation was made 4 months ahead of my move. With zero engagement from the company I had every opportunity to change my mind and book with someone else. I imagine that happens on a regular basis. If they had a diverse content marketing strategy they could greatly reduce churn and retain more customers.
- Blog posts that offer educational tips and advice on recommended packing supplies, how to stay organized in a move, the top things you should pack last, etc.
- Videos on packing fragile items, best ways to load furniture or pack a truck for easy unloading, proper lifting, etc.
- Detailed and comprehensive moving guides and destination guides
- Emails that regularly deliver custom content tailored to me based on my reservation data, including links to posts or other guides
- At least ONE email reminder of my reservation
Content marketing isn’t rocket science. It does take time to start creating content assets that fit your audience but it’s the most effective way to keep your audience engaged, delight them, build brand visibility and continue to bring new leads into your funnel. If there’s no internal team that can handle it, then hire a content marketer or agency to get the job done. The reduction in customer churn and new lead acquisition more than covers the cost of content generation and promotion.
U-Haul needs to seriously consider all the missed opportunities and push the creative limits of their marketing team. Someone is asleep at the wheel as the world of marketing changes around them.
Does your business use content marketing for more than just lead acquisition? How are you engaging your customers over the course of the buyer journey? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below: