Digital marketing is constantly evolving, and if you want to succeed, you need to keep pace. All too often, however, self-storage operators rely on outdated methods or don’t know how to introduce a fresh approach. The following highlights six marketing mistakes commonly made in this industry and how to avoid or fix them.
Most self-storage operators know the best places to start their online marketing efforts—website, Google, social media—but how many “channels” should you ultimately use and how involved should you get? The answer depends entirely on your customers. Who are they? Where are they searching? How do they make decisions? You can make an Instagram account if you’re trying to reach a bunch of college students, but you probably don’t need to if you have a rural facility with an older demographic. Don’t get lost in the options and trends and lose focus.
Solution: Identify the marketing strategies that get the most traction and make sense for your business and market. Get those digital touchpoints in tip-top shape before you move on to other less-trafficked ones. If you have a smaller operation, it might make sense to focus on only a few channels, whereas bigger brands can justify a deeper dive. Whatever you decide to use for marketing, do it well and consistently. It’s better to have a few well-executed strategies than too many sloppy ones.
Failing to Optimize Google My Business
We talk about Google a lot, and there’s a reason: 92% of all online searches happen there. It’s where most people start any buying or searching process.
The top organic (not paid) results on a Google search aren’t websites, they’re Google My Business (GMB) listings. Before learning anything else about your self-storage facility, a potential customer will probably see your GMB. Does it show good photos? Reviews? Office hours and business information? If not, searchers will pass right by. If so, they’ll click on your website.
Not only is your GMB listing a top result, it’s also free. That’s right! Free! It’s one of your most valuable online tools.
Solution: Make sure your GMB listing is updated and active. At a minimum, include clear photos of your facility and prioritize getting reviews every time someone moves in. Once you’re cruising, learn to post updates more regularly, as Google rewards active listings.
Not Understanding the Customer Journey
The longer you work in self-storage operation, the easier it is to lose touch with your customer experience. But turning prospects into tenants means understanding the journey they take to find you and making sure you make the right impression every step of the way. Each interaction with your brand is a chance to win over a customer—or lose them. It needs to be easy to find and rent from you.
Solution: Walk yourself through Googling “storage units near me,” finding your site and renting a unit. Does everything work properly? Is the info all correct? Are the questions a potential customer may have easy to answer? If not, you might need to make some changes.
Losing Website Conversions
You wouldn’t pour water into a leaky bucket, so why would you spend marketing dollars to send potential customers to a faulty website? All digital marketing will eventually drive a searcher to your website, so make sure it does what you need it to do—show off your facility and rent units! If it isn’t capturing leads and driving rentals, what’s the point?
It’s tempting to focus on web traffic, but the better starting point is web conversion. Once you know your website is effective at converting visitors to paying tenants, you can focus on driving more volume.
Solution: Make sure a potential customer who visits your website can rent or reserve a unit. If not, they’ll go elsewhere. Why? Because if they’re searching online, they’re trying to rent online, too.
Next, check to see how many visitors turn into customers. Even better, see how many of the people who made it to your rental or rates page actually bought a unit. Was it one in 50? One in 100? This is a surefire way to check the effectiveness of your online experience. If people aren’t following through, that’s one of the first places to improve.
Failing to Track Data
Setting a marketing budget is critical, but you can’t do it without good information; so, why do so many self-storage operators fail to track the results of their campaigns? It’s easy to make decisions on a whim or with a gut feeling, but not very smart.
To be fair, it can be hard to track and access your marketing data, but it’s essential that you do. If you don’t watch the results of your efforts, you have no way of knowing if they were worthwhile! It’s good to spend $200 and make $1,000. It’s bad to spend $1,000 and make $200. Is that online ad campaign worth it? Is that billboard bringing in new customers? Is the website converting leads to tenants?
Solution: The only way you can answer these questions is by setting up your digital strategies in a trackable way and checking in. Whenever you’re launching a campaign or about to spend money, ask yourself, “Can I track the results?” It could be as simple as asking every new customer how they heard about you or as involved as creating specific links or phone numbers for each individual campaign.
Failing to Refresh Your Efforts
It’s wonderful to get your online marketing efforts humming, but it’s dangerous to leave them unchecked. The self-storage industry, digital landscape and consumer trends are always in flux. What worked last year may not work now.
You don’t need to overhaul your strategy every month, but you should know where everything sits. How does your website activity or online rental count compare to last year? Is your marketing spend in sync with facility occupancy? If you’re full, can you spend a little less? If you’re heading into a slow season, should you ramp up?
Solution: Find the right rhythm for your business. It may not be every week, but set the right cadence for monitoring and evaluating your marketing efforts. Certain channels, like your GMB listing or social media pages, should be updated regularly. All must be checked on periodically. Think of it as being similar to your curb appeal. When your online listings are current, it tells a potential customer, “This is an active, responsible business.”
Figuring out exactly what marketing strategies are effective for a self-storage operation can be daunting. There’s a lot of information out there, and strategies that are effective in one industry don’t necessarily work in another. How do you learn what to do and what not to do? Start by avoiding the mistakes above. You’ll get a leg up on the competition, and your renewed efforts will save you time and money.
Tyler Anthony is marketing manager of StoragePug, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based software company that helps self-storage operators attract new leads, convert leads to paying tenants and rent units online. Prior to joining the company in 2020, he helped market and grow dozens of other businesses. He believes marketing should be honest, helpful and, above all, human. For more information, call 865.240.0295; email [email protected].