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Reducing Your Reliance on Self-Storage Lead Aggregators

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By Thereasa Roy

We all know what the self-storage directories claim: For a price, they’ll deliver a certain number of customer leads per month. These leads are supposedly qualified and should turn into revenue for your business. But before signing on with one of these lead aggregators, you need to evaluate the costs, monetary and otherwise. Here are five points to consider about working with third-party companies that might affect your marketing efforts.

1. They dilute your brand and value proposition. Aggregators advertise your facility alongside your competition, often with a simplified version of your brand and offerings. Your business is reduced to this advertisement, which may not fully represent what you provide. If price isn’t what makes you stand out from the competition, how will you win in this commoditized setting?

2. They cannibalize organic search and steal valuable insights along the way. Your websites are in direct competition with aggregators for organic and pay-per-click search rankings. When you advertise with an aggregator, it harvests your traffic and leads, and you must buy the leads back via a subscription or pay-per-lead model. The more a lead aggregator cannibalizes your website, the higher your contract rate will be the following year. Because you’re competing with the aggregator, it bids up your costs on paid search, too.

3. They steal your competitive advantage. Aggregators want to outrank your corporate and facility websites in Google, Bing and Yahoo as well as outperform you in social media. The more traffic they take away, the more leads they can provide back to you at a higher cost and significantly lower conversion rate than if the traffic flowed directly through your own website.

4. They keep market insights close to their chest. When a customer goes to an aggregator and fills out a form, he’s giving his information to that company, not you. The directory adds its cookies to the customer’s computer; it knows where that customer came from and where he goes after filling out the form. The aggregator owns that lead—a lead that could’ve been yours—and will continue to drive advertisements to itself. Those advertisements might not even be for your property.

When you rely on aggregators for leads, you give up ownership of valuable customer data. On the other hand, when you own your leads, you own that information and can better own your brand and marketing message as well.

5. They waste your sales team’s time. When your sales team has multiple leads on which to follow up at the same time, how do they decide who to contact first? The aggregators will sometimes hand you a large quantity of unqualified leads all at once. We call this “lead clutter.” If it diverts your team’s attention, it can result in your strongly qualified, paid advertising and Web leads not getting timely responses.

Take Back Control

To take back control and own your own leads, you need to drive the same revenue with other marketing channels. Here’s how:

  • Evaluate: Start by evaluating all your marketing channels. Understand how many leads came from each and which ones turned into leases. Once you have a revenue amount associated with every channel, you’ll be able to weigh the pros and cons of each.
  • Test: Try new channels. There are many digital advertising channels, such as pay-per-click, retargeting or display advertising, that might drive more revenue than you thought. Plus, they allow you to own your leads from beginning to end, while giving you great insight to your market. Social advertising is another strong channel that allows you to leverage prospects and existing clients in online places they already visit every day, such as Facebook.
  • Observe: Evaluate your competitors’ marketing efforts. When you use an aggregator, you’re pinned head to head. Why not understand where they’re marketing and compete with them there? This way you can own leads and beat competitors on your own turf.
  • Adjust: Once you’ve evaluated your existing marketing channels, tested new ones and determined what your competitors are doing, you can adjust. Fine-tune your existing spend in certain channels, and add or subtract channels based on what’s working and what competitors are doing.
  • Succeed: Keep this cycle of learning and adjusting consistent so you’re able to adapt to market changes.

By following these steps, you’ll be empowered to own your own leads, improve upon your own marketing efforts, and drive more qualified leads to your sales team.

In her 15-year career, Thereasa Roy has been a digital marketer for technology companies across the United States. She’s passionate about making marketers more efficient with market research and effective campaign development. At G5, a data-driven marketing company in the property-management sector, her focus is taking products to market and delivering great sales materials. Learn more at www.getg5.com.

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