The key to successful marketing lies within the information you collect about your self-storage customers. Follow this advice to track and improve your efforts.

August 24, 2017

5 Min Read
Data Influence: Why and How to Track Your Self-Storage Marketing Efforts

By Rick Beal and Julia Grignon

The average customer has tons of options when searching for a self-storage facility. With the power of the Internet, consumers have ever greater control over the products and services they buy. This has forced facility operators into a new era of advertising, leaving marketers to adapt. Online search algorithms have gotten smarter, and data has never been more important.

The key to a successful storage business lies in the information we collect about our customers. It’s crucial to understand their decision-making process. How do we know what they want? And how do we know if our marketing efforts are worthwhile? Every facility operator wants to justify the effectiveness of his marketing investment but may not know where to get the right information. You can gather this data from sources such as Google Analytics, customer surveys, online reviews and even your revenue-management software. The more you have, the easier it will be to make informed decisions.

Improving online marketing results and increasing revenue is the beginning of a successful strategy. Combining the data gathered from marketing reports and customer intelligence will help you understand how far your marketing budget will take you.

You’re not alone in thinking this is an arduous task. It takes time, patience and sometimes a little suffering to see success. One way to think of your marketing is to compare it to an ice-cream sundae. Think of your marketing efforts as the toppings. Some people like all of them, while others only like specific ones. With time and tracking, you’ll learn which “goodies” are well-liked and which aren’t. Some will increase revenue while others may not make a difference. Identify what does and doesn’t work and for your customers. That's the real game-changer.

Track the Journey

It’s not our job to tell customers what to buy. Rather, it’s our job to make it easy for them to find what they want. To do this, you need to create an online user experience and provide valuable information that will drive them to convert faster from leads to customers.

First, define what a successful conversion is to you. Is it a phone call? A contact-form submission? An online reservation or rental? Regardless, it’s essential to track the user’s journey. This allows you to identify potential usability issues on your website and measure the effectiveness of its design with the user in mind. Then you can create a conversion funnel using monthly goal-tracking in Google Analytics.

But how do you go about measuring website performance and user behavior? What resources are available to gather this intelligence and turn it into actionable data? To find out if your user experience gives customers what they want, start with A/B testing, which is a controlled experiment with two variables. Without running tests, it’s impossible to make smart marketing decisions.

Run experiments to measure the effectiveness of your website page design, calls to action and special offers. This will give you a map of customer behavior to see if they click what you expect them to click. If the results are unexpected, review those insights and improve the experience with data at hand.

Continue to measure your efforts with a deeper look at Google Analytics, using page visits to measure frequency and acquisition to understand where your customers originate. Also, look at your website’s bounce rate to see how many customers stay versus how many leave in a set period. What’s your users’ average page duration, and what do those demographics look like based on gender, age and location? These insights will help you tailor the user experience to better fit your audience.

Finally refine your online advertising campaigns using Google Adwords, which will help you reach qualified leads and pay less for customers each month. Take note of campaigns that aren’t bringing in conversions to eliminate wasted spend. Get your staff involved, and help them understand how much it costs when the phone rings or a customer walks in the door. Every phone call, Web lead or walk-in is the byproduct of marketing. Track what works for your store, and avoid tactics that don’t.

Ask Questions

In its pure form, marketing is a simple concept. It involves connections and conversations. Anyone can understand how it works, what to do and how to implement it. However, it can take a lifetime and a team to master. Why? Because it involves an unknown variable: people.

You can't sell anything unless you can deliver your message to prospects. Once you understand who your customer is, you really start to improve your marketing IQ. A customer-first approach empowers prospects and pulls them into your value proposition. Then it’s time to focus on the 4 Cs: clicks, calls, conversions and cost.

Let’s say you know who your customer is and how to effectively sell to him online. Your website is the most powerful marketing tool in your arsenal, representing your brand and product. You’re advertising on the platform of your choice and are measuring the effectiveness of your efforts. Now, ask yourself the following:

  • How many clicks am I getting to my active ad campaigns?

  • Are those clicks turning into phone calls?

  • Are those phone calls converting to leads?

  • How much does it cost to convert my qualified leads into customers?

Marketing metrics are interconnected, building a foundation for a fully functioning digital-marketing ecosystem. Without knowing one metric, the others hold no value.

The goal of your marketing is to gain rentals. Anything you’re not doing to move yourself toward that goal is moving you away from it. By educating yourself and tracking your marketing efforts, you’re moving forward. You may not have the biggest budget or the fanciest facility, but you can know exactly how the data influences your performance.

Rick Beal is the district manager and part owner of Cubes Self Storage in Salt Lake City. His goal is to help a historically slow-changing industry embrace new, innovative ideas. His professional motto is “Storage is a business of inches not miles.” He can be reached at [email protected]. Connect with him on LinkedIn at

Julia Grignon is the marketing accounts manager at Automatit Inc., a provider of Web design and marketing services. With a background in creative writing and digital marketing, she works with customers to communicate online performance and educate on best practices. For more information, call 520.293.4608; visit

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