For many self-storage operators, especially those who are just starting out, marketing can quickly become the albatross around the neck. It’s important to promote your business, but it isn’t always easy to know how. That’s because the marketing landscape is more sprawling than ever.
In the past, our options were limited to mediums like print advertising, billboards, direct mail, radio and TV. However, those tend to be expensive today; and there are now a seemingly endless number of ways to market a business online for significantly less. Regardless of how big or small your facility and budget are, the key metric to watch is cost-effectiveness. Basically, are you getting the most bang for your bucks?
Which brings us to email. Even with all the new platforms now available, it remains one of the best ways to communicate with prospective and current customers and market your business. Still, it’s a bit more complicated than just writing a message and hitting “send,” so let’s go over some of the most important things to consider when launching a successful campaign.
Benefits of Email Marketing
We’ve already hit on one of the biggest benefits of email marketing—it’s economical—but it’s also low-risk. Another major benefit is how quickly a campaign can turn a passive consumer into an active shopper. Consider this: People don’t always act on what they need or want. Instead of hoping for them to punch in a Google search and find your business, hit them with an email and catch them at the right time, spurring them to action.
There are also quite a few functional benefits to email marketing that make it a robust way to attract the attention of potential customers. Most email platforms allow for rich content like text, gifs, videos, forms and links. They also allow for personalization, which enables you to address the individual recipient while tailoring the content to different audiences.
Also, you can launch an email campaign rather quickly, start to finish. Plus, with rabid A/B testing, you’ll be able to drive even more effective results.
Determine the Campaign Goal
If this isn’t your first email campaign and you have historical benchmarks, start there. If not, it isn’t enough to say you want to capture 10, 20 or more leads. It’s best to build around what you hope to accomplish or a business problem you need to solve, for example:
- Brand awareness
- Running a promotion or sale
- Filling large units
- Encouraging customers to use autopay
There’s no shortage of things your business needs at any given time, and only you know what your top priority should be. Another way to look at it is, simply, what action do you want the recipient to take after reading your email? Whatever that is, it’s a good place to start when determining your campaign goal.
Assemble Your List
Now that you know your campaign objective, you need to identify your target audience. This is where an email list comes in. Sometimes, it be tricky to come by. If you’ve been in business for a while and have run multiple email campaigns, it’s likely you already have a solid list. If this is your first send, you might not have a strong file of recipients yet. Fear not, as there are a few ways you can get one.
One of the more seamless ways to build your list is by purchasing it. The cost will largely depend on the number and quality of recipients you want. If this is your first campaign, this may be your best option. You can also work on building your list through referrals and older leads you may not have converted to a lease.
In the end, you really need to make sure your message gets to the right people. The more emails you send to the wrong audience, the more likely they’ll end up in the trash. But if you’ve assembled the right list, the more likely your campaign will be successful.
Decide What to Promote
What you highlight in your email messaging is crucial and should align with your campaign goal. The answer to “What should I promote?” will depend on what your business and customers need in the moment. For example, if your facility is fairly full and occupancy isn’t your primary goal, you may instead want your campaign to advocate your autopay program or tenant-insurance options. If you’re looking for new renters, it may help to discuss a “first month free” sale.
Something important to keep in mind is how seamlessly the campaign funnels your audience to the action you want them to take. Within your email or the landing page it drives to, remove any unnecessary content or distractions and ensure there’s a clear, unmissable call to action.
Chance are you’re using an email platform like Constant Contact or Mailchimp to run your campaign, in which case, you’ll have access to the data and analytics you need to determine whether it was a success. In particular, pay attention to the open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate and unsubscribes.
High open and click-through rates are good signs. If those come back low, revise your subject line, preview text and other content to be more compelling. A high bounce rate means you’ve got bad email addresses on your list. Unsubscribes can mean something about your content is turning people away, or that you’re sending too many emails.
Tracking is important, as it ultimately helps you determine if you’ve achieved your campaign goal. So, make sure you’re relying on a platform that provides access to that data.
Avoid Legal Pitfalls
Naturally, there are many legal pitfalls to email marketing—too many to cover in this article. The gist, however, is you need to proceed with caution. You can be sued for your email practices! Make sure you know the CAN-SPAM Act, which establishes requirements for commercial messages and gives recipients the right to prevent you from emailing them. There are tough penalties for violations. In addition, email servers like Gmail and Outlook are always updating their spam filters, so you must be diligent to ensure your messages don’t come across as spam.
Tried and True
The self-storage industry is growing more competitive and, thanks to the Internet, there are more ways than ever to market your business. The truth is there’s no magic formula to marketing. You just need to focus on getting the most out of your budget. Email has proven, time and again, to be one of the most cost-effective ways to successfully promote a business.
Trace Hughes is a senior copywriter at Storable, a supplier of cloud-based access control, management software, marketing, payment processing, website development and other services for the self-storage industry. He has nearly a decade of marketing and communications experience, having worked with several advertising agencies prior to joining Storable. He believes clear, compelling communication is the cornerstone to any successful business. For more information, e-mail [email protected]; visit www.storable.com.