Embracing the Power of Email Marketing: Guidance for Self-Storage Operators

If you’re looking for an easy way to connect with your self-storage prospects and tenants, consider email marketing. It not only allows you to inform and enlighten your target audience, it helps build brand awareness. Read on to learn more benefits, how to craft enticing messages and important legal factors.

Lisa Porter

May 26, 2024

8 Min Read

You know from experience: If you buy a thing online, attend a tradeshow or sign up for information pretty much anywhere, your inbox will soon be overflowing. Though the abundance of messages can be overwhelming and even irritating, email marketing is still one of the best ways to communicate with an audience in the digital age. Companies in all industries, including self-storage, are taking advantage of it. Are you?

Let’s explore what email marketing can do for your self-storage business and how to ensure your efforts are effective and safe.

Why Email?

Why should you use email marketing to support your self-storage operation? Put simply, it provides a direct line of communication to your potential and current customers that’s cost-effective and efficient. It won’t only drive sales and build brand awareness, it’s ideal for sharing important information.

An email campaign allows you to skillfully release targeted messages to an audience. You can reach potential leads, announce news, strengthen relationships with tenants, offer promotions, publicize events and more. Plus, sending well-designed messages will present your facility as professional and well-run.

Building Your Lists

If you’re ready to engage in email marketing, the first step is to build a solid mailing list. Do you collect addresses from all your new self-storage renters? If not, start immediately! Include verbiage in your rental agreement that requests this information and states that by providing it, the customer is allowing your company to send them marketing messages.

If you’re missing email addresses for any of your existing tenants, reach out via phone or snail mail to update their file and obtain permission to send messages. It’s important to ensure that all contact information is current, so your marketing is sent to the right place.

When someone stops by your self-storage office or reaches out to you via social media, ask for an email so you can send them information. Also, add a pop-up or button to your website that invites prospects to sign up for your newsletter or other email communication. You’ll get addresses for people who are interested in your facility and want to learn more about what you can offer. Customers who sign up voluntarily are high-intent and a great target audience for your marketing materials.

If you’re collecting email addresses manually, put them in a spreadsheet for easy organization. This way, you’ll be able to upload them as needed into a mailing program such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp. Bear in mind that there are automation tools on the market that can greatly improve efficiency, allowing you to schedule emails and manage other critical communication tasks.

It’s wise to keep your list of prospects separate from current tenants so you can create tailored information for each group. Segmenting your audience allows you to send targeted messages, increasing the relevance and effectiveness of your campaigns. Failing to separate your lists can lead to opt-outs, which damages your marketing reach and will potentially flag your company as a sender of spam.

Creating Good Content

Once you have your email lists and a way to grow them, the fun begins—creating content that’s engaging and has value for self-storage recipients. There are many resources that provide email templates. Use them to craft messages that support your company branding. The goal is to design a message that’s visually appealing and grabs attention, encouraging people to open and read it rather than scroll past or delete it. Consider these guidelines:

Match the message to the audience. Think about your recipient, then craft your message to appeal to their unique needs. For current self-storage tenants, your content might focus on discounts, rewards for referrals, or tips for storing and protecting their goods. For prospective customers, it might address monthly specials or advice for choosing the right unit.

Have a clear message. Make sure your email has a specific purpose. Have you recently expanded your facility? Are you offering any specials? Is your business participating in a local event? The best way to inform customers of your facility news is to address them directly through a carefully crafted email. This continuous communication tells them that you’re active, local and readily available for their self-storage needs.

Create a strong opener. Once the messaging for your email is clear, the subject line should accurately reflect it. This sets the recipient’s first impression, so make sure it’s well-crafted and attention-grabbing. People are more likely to open emails that look like they contain pertinent information, whether it’s a change in business hours, a referral discount or something else that relates to them.

Get visual. Think beyond a simple text-based email. Adding photos engages readers and helps them understand your business. People love seeing pictures of facilities, employees, property improvements and community involvement. Visuals also assist with brand recognition by teaching recipients to associate specific colors, logos and other graphics with your company.

Think about timing. This is extremely important. You don’t need to send messages every day. In fact, you shouldn’t. Instead, send emails when you have something important, exciting or valuable to share. Are you running a new special, hosting an event, or launching a new property feature or service? These are the perfect times to send a captivating message.

A quick word on holidays: Be careful about sending festive emails. Not all of your recipients celebrate the same occasions. You don’t want to risk unintentionally giving offense.

Be mobile-friendly. With the increasing use of smartphones, email marketing allows you to reach customers wherever they are. Responsive email designs ensure your messages are easily readable and accessible on mobile devices.

If you plan to email your existing and future self-storage customers, it’s imperative that you understand the legal side of this marketing strategy. The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act of 2003 sets rules and requirements for commercial email and gives recipients the right to opt out of receiving messages. It also spells out tough penalties for violations.

The Federal Trade Commission enforces this act and the accompanying CAN-SPAM Rule. Each separate email in violation is subject to penalties of up to $51,744, so non-compliance can be costly. However, following the law isn’t hard. Here are the main requirements:

Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your email routing information, including from, to, reply to, and originating domain name and email address must be accurate and identify the person or business initiating the message. The subject line must accurately reflect the content contained within.

Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.

Share your location. Your email must include your valid physical address. This can be your current street address, a post-office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), or a private mailbox with a commercial mail-receiving agency established under USPS regulations.

Tell recipients how to stop receiving future emails from you. Your unsubscribe notice should be easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read and understand. Creative use of type size, color and location can improve clarity. Provide a return email address or other online way for people to communicate their choice to you. You might create a menu allowing them to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all marketing from your self-storage business. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these requests.

Remember, too, that even your newsletter subscribers can opt out. A person doesn’t lose the right to unsubscribe simply because they opted in at some point. For a message to exclude an unsubscribe link, it must fit within one of five categories of “transactional or relationship” messaging outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act. If it doesn’t, you need to include a way for recipients to withdraw from further sends.

Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any unsubscribe mechanism you offer must be able to process requests for at least 30 days after a message is sent. Then, you must honor a recipient’s request within 10 business days.

Monitor what others do on your behalf. The law makes it clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the one that sends the message may be held legally responsible.


Analyzing Your Efforts

Consistent communication keeps your self-storage company top-of-mind with an audience. Even if recipients don't make an immediate purchase, regular emails can reinforce your messaging and increase brand recall. But how do you know if your campaigns are working?

Programs like Constant Contact and Mailchimp provide analytics that show you the number of existing and new email subscribers you have, plus your message open rates. (An open rate of 20% or higher means your content is performing well.) You can also see metrics such as click-through and conversion rates. Collectively, this data provides valuable insight to the performance of your campaigns, allowing you to make informed decisions, see what messages are working best for any given audience, and optimize your strategies over time.

Effective email marketing might be just the tool you need to communicate with existing self-storage customers and convert prospects into paying tenants. A well-planned campaign can help your business reach its desired audience efficiently and professionally. Use it to increase sales, maintain a positive brand image and share information. It’s one of the best ways to keep in touch with your renters and draw new business.

Lisa Porter is the founder of P3 Creative, a full-service, digital-marketing agency serving business clients from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. She helps customers in all aspects of marketing including branding, logo design, websites, search engine optimization, social media, email campaigns, public relations, video production, grand openings and more. To reach her, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Lisa Porter

Lisa Porter is the founder of P3 Creative, a full-service, digital-marketing agency serving business clients from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. She helps customers in all aspects of marketing including branding, logo design, websites, search engine marketing, social media marketing, email campaigns, public relations, video production, grand openings, and more.

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