It isn’t a secret: If you want to run an effective self-storage business, you must have an effective online presence. To get there, you need to invest in a solid marketing strategy. There’s a lot to consider, including whether to outsource certain tasks.
Some facility operators have had bad experiences with marketing agencies that promise the world and under deliver, so it’s understandable why they might steer clear of subcontracting. But can you implement an up-to-date, successful strategy on your own? Chances are you need assistance with at least a portion of your planning and implementation. Let’s discuss the types of digital marketing tasks that should be handled by a third party, the benefits to outsourcing, and what to expect from the company you hire.
Items to Get Off Your Plate
Operating a self-storage business requires time, money and effort. By outsourcing your online marketing, you can clear tasks from your daily list to concentrate on more pressing items. Digital marketing is much more than maintaining a website. Here are some crucial areas that can be leveraged by qualified professionals:
Search engine optimization (SEO). This is one of the most important online-marketing strategies. SEO helps your website rank higher for important keyword searches on engines such as Google. It’s such a key tactic that if you aren’t implementing it well on your website, you’re most likely losing large amounts of Web traffic and potential tenants.
Despite its importance, SEO is often neglected and left out of operators’ marketing plans because no one on staff has the expertise to implement it correctly. This is all the more reason to hire a professional who can properly get this critical marketing piece in play for your business.
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC). PPC is a cost-per-click model in which an advertiser pays a fee each time a user clicks on one of his ads. You set targeted ads to be shown only to people you deem fit to rent units from your facility. Google Ads is another important piece to marketing that can help fill up units quickly.
A productive online strategy will focus on SEO and supplement with a healthy PPC approach to generate website visits while your search-engine ranking builds. Essentially, it’s a way to buy visits to your website rather than attempting to “earn” them organically.
Social media management. Though social media has become a vital way to build website traffic in many industries, it isn’t as important in self-storage. Since ours is an as-needed service, it isn’t sought out on social media channels nearly as often as on Google. It can still aid your overall marketing strategy, but it won’t generate rentals at the same rate as SEO and PPC. That said, social media can help with customer retention and communication. It can certainly be outsourced, but depending on your level of investment, might be preferable to manage in-house.
Reputation management. This is the practice of facilitating consistent reviews across multiple platforms such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. It’s become all the rage in the online-marketing world and for good reason: It takes the experience of actual customers into consideration.
Today’s consumers are well-informed and take the time to base decisions on levels of comfort. They consider price, location, features and convenience, but above all, they factor in reviews. Think about the last time you purchased a product on Amazon. It’s probably safe to say you scanned reviews to ensure you were purchasing a product with a high rating. Prospective self-storage tenants shop similarly.
Reputation management is a critical piece of your online-marketing strategy. It should be outsourced to a digital-marketing agency that can make it easy for tenants to leave reviews and provide the tools to track success.
How It Helps
There are many ways a third-party marketer can benefit your self-storage operation.
Beat your competition. Successful self-storage operators have realized the importance of digital marketing and are investing in it to grow their business. Most can’t afford the time or money it takes to create an in-house team. No matter the size of your operation, you can find an agency capable of creating and implementing an online strategy that will give your business an edge.
Expertise. You may be a great businessperson with an array of skills, but chances are you don’t have the expertise to create and implement a consistently effective online-marketing strategy. Outsourcing to an agency lets you use highly skilled and educated marketing professionals without having to hire a full-time employee or assemble an in-house team.
Fresh viewpoint. There’s always something that can be learned from a fresh perspective. Outsourcing allows well-informed professionals to “peek under the hood” and help identify areas in which your business may lack. A strong agency can figure out what brings visitors to your website and optimize your presence to facilitate growth.
Evolve with trends. Online marketing is constantly changing behind new trends, rules, ranking updates, etc., that can impact your efforts. Marketing experts have to stay current, learn new skills, and continually improve techniques and strategies. Staying up-to-date with trends gives you a clear advantage over most competitors and can be the difference in ranking higher on Google, increasing Web traffic and converting more rentals.
Better insight. Again, a digital marketing agency has to keep abreast of the latest technology, trends, industry updates and case studies. It should be equipped to monitor efforts and determine what combinations of tactics are working and which aren’t. A good agency will offer consistent reporting and live status updates, so you can see the results of your efforts and ensure money is being spent effectively.
What to Expect
Online marketing isn’t easy, though some agencies will try to make things sound simple. Effective marketing takes time to build, so don’t expect overnight results. Be realistic and understanding, but feel free to communicate concerns about how tasks are being accomplished.
Expect to pay anywhere from $200 to more than $1,000 per month depending on the strategies being implemented and the work required. A good agency should be using conversion tracking and be able to quantify your customer value in simple, identifiable metrics. This’ll let you know what kind of return on investment you’re achieving.
You should feel like you’re being taken care of and that outsourcing is a positive move for your business. You should feel a sense of balance between your goals and achievement. Look for a partner that will be honest with you, has skills and can add value to your business. The two most important factors in hiring an agency are expertise and trust. Here are some key considerations:
- Does this agency have the skills, credentials and knowledge to help my business succeed?
- Is it up-to-date with effective marketing trends?
- Does this agency treat me with respect and has it tried to understand my situation?
- Does it give clear and reasonable expectations?
- Has it been honest with me about what it will take to be effective?
Even if you’ve had a past negative experience, don’t let that deter you. There are many reputable agencies that can help build your online presence. Find one that fits your criteria and fosters trust. The payoff is staying ahead of your competition and reaping the benefits, including increases in website visits, phone calls and rentals. The right outsourcing partner can keep you flourishing in the modern marketing landscape.
Ken Turley is CEO and co-owner of Rize Marketing Agency, which helps self-storage companies and other businesses increase online visibility and meet their marketing goals. Ken has years of experience in SEO and all things online marketing and is a frequent speaker at self-storage tradeshows. Rize has helped several hundred storage facilities across the U.S. and Canada take their facility's online presence to new heights. For more information visit www.selfstoragemarketing.net.