Are you interested in growing your self-storage business but aren’t sure where you should be spending your marketing dollars? You aren’t alone. Most owners struggle with getting a clear picture of the best way to allocate their budget.
At the end of the day, marketing best practices are evolving too quickly for most self-storage operators to keep up. It seems like every other week Google is pushing a new update that totally flips the industry on its head. What worked yesterday carries no guarantee of working today. Considering the countless directions in which you’re pulled daily, finding the time to keep up with current marketing strategy can seem like an exercise in futility.
But it doesn’t have to be. Unbeknownst to many, there are free and reasonably priced analytic tools available to help with decision-making. Following are important considerations for tracking your marketing, and how to use the best tools to improve your return on investment (ROI).
The data you track is only as good as the value it adds to your business. In other words, it’s important to clearly define your objectives before gathering information. For example, while new brands may value awareness over everything, more established brands are usually more concerned with lowering customer acquisition costs or increasing conversion rates. Defining the results that most directly benefit your business is a critical consideration in planning a marketing strategy.
When it comes to marketing, success can be measured in a variety of ways, including but certainly not limited to:
- Social media engagement
- Social media sharing
- Newsletter sign-ups
- Sales appointments
- Online reservations
- Website visits
It’s easy to see why it’s important to develop a clearly defined picture of achievement and the benchmarks along the way before you even start to track your marketing. After establishing what marketing success looks like for your storage operation, it’s time to begin looking at ways to track progress. Two of the best free analytics tools are Google Analytics and Bing Webmaster Tools.
If you’re spending money on online ads or digital marketing and you don’t have this set up, get on it immediately. Even if you aren’t running ads or campaigns, it’s still the best free tool available for business owners looking to track the success of their efforts. Along with its sister platform, Google Search Console, Google Analytics offers insight into a website’s:
- Organic search rankings
- Visitor demographics
- Peak browsing times
- Sources of traffic
- Conversion rate
- Traffic volume
As you can probably guess, tracking these metrics is the most important part of accurately measuring the success of your marketing strategy. Among many other things, information provided by Google Analytics can help you analyze the effectiveness of campaigns and ads in driving traffic to your website and the effectiveness of your website in converting that traffic to leads and customers.
Beyond anything else, tracking site traffic volume, traffic sources and visitor demographic information is the best way to measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. This data is available on your Google Analytics homepage. Looking for a visible spike in traffic during and after a marketing push is the best way to know if a strategy was successful. This is especially important for campaigns with any sort of paid promotion involved, such as a Google ad.
Beyond raw traffic volume, it’s also important to track the demographics of your traffic to make sure your website is attracting your ideal target audience. This section of your Google Analytics account can be found in the “audience tab,” on the left-hand navigation menu. It provides valuable demographic info including age, gender, interests, location and frequency of visits.
Along the same lines, it’s also important to keep an eye on the sources of Web traffic. This information can be found on the main page of Google Analytics, with a more detailed version available upon clicking the link titled “acquisition report.”
Google Analytics breaks down site traffic based on the platform that led visitors there (i.e., Bing, Facebook, etc.). Before equating a spike in traffic to a job well done, it’s important to verify it’s actually coming from the platform used to execute a specific campaign. If the majority of traffic isn’t coming from that platform, it’s time to adjust your strategy.
You can also use this data to plan future campaigns. Rather than shoot in the dark in hopes that a campaign will stick, it’s better to look at current organic traffic sources and direct most of your marketing spend to that channel or platform. If you’re interested in learning more about how Google Analytics can help you track your marketing efforts, check out Google’s free introductory course.
Bing Webmaster Tools
These are essentially Microsoft’s version of Google Analytics. They offer the same great insights for traffic coming from Bing and Yahoo. While many business owners write Bing off as unimportant, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A recent study by database company Statista estimates 25 percent of all search queries in the United States occur on Bing. The fact that many business owners aren’t using Bing Webmaster Tools presents a great opportunity for those who do.
It’s much easier to rank for a keyword on Bing than it is on Google. If you’re ready to take your tracking to a new level, this free guide will help you get started.
Below are other useful websites you should consider for tracking your marketing efforts and planning your strategy. Some are completely free while others offer limited services at no cost, with expanded programs at various price points.
Mailchimp. If you’re using e-mail marketing to promote your self-storage facility, you need this. Designed to automate e-mail marketing, MailChimp helps marketers efficiently send out mass messages. This platform also tracks performance and offers useful insights to the best time to send, subject lines winning the highest open rates and campaign conversion rates.
Facebook Blueprint and Instagram/Facebook Insights. These native tools are built directly into the social media platforms and are especially helpful for storage operators interested in executing paid ads. Not only do they offer some great insight to how campaigns are performing, their advanced targeting and A/B testing capabilities help users plan future strategy based on real data.
Hootsuite. This is another great free tool for operators engaging in social media marketing. In contrast to the paid-ad focus of the native Facebook and Instagram tools, Hootsuite focuses more on benchmarking organic social media marketing. This platform can help users schedule automated posts at future dates, along with providing useful information into how posts and hashtags are performing, and ways to improve that performance in the future.
Console Rocket. This works in tandem with Google Search Console to provide a much more comprehensive picture of a storage facility’s online visibility. It does this by finding and tracking all the keywords a site is ranking for on Google. This helps you steer your marketing strategy, both by benchmarking organic growth from current campaigns and identifying keywords to include in future blog content and site copy.
Ubersuggest. Like Console Rocket, Ubersuggest is designed to help business owners get a better picture into keywords driving their organic growth. Where this platform differs is in its ability to also track the progress of competitors, offering insight to their strategies and the keywords driving the most traffic to their sites.
All it takes is a Google search for “marketing tracking tools” to realize the number of options available is overwhelming. That said, many of these options have overlapping functionality and only a few are truly worth the investment for a self-storage operation. In the interest of keeping things actionable, the following represents the best “one-size-fits” all solutions available today.
If you only have the budget for one paid tool, your best bet is probably SEMrush. Essentially an all-in-one marketing tool suite, it can help you track almost every imaginable digital-marketing activity, from paid ads to organic growth campaigns and social media campaigns. It also has a solid social media scheduling tool with built-in analytics and a number of other free tools designed to help track everything from the marketing strategy of your competition to technical issues negatively impacting your website’s marketing reach.
A few other full-stack marketing suites with similar abilities to SEMrush include:
- Moz Pro
- Majestic SEO
Despite there being hundreds of other options, any one of these tools should be more than enough to cover the tracking needs of most self-storage facilities.
Maximizing Your ROI
Now that you have a good understanding of the best tools for tracking your self-storage marketing, you can start using them to increase your ROI. The more you understands the effectiveness of various marketing strategies, the easier it becomes to identify the option with the best return.
As you can imagine, a business with a $31 average customer acquisition cost using Facebook and a $19 average customer acquisition cost on Google Ads should be spending most of its marketing budget on Google. Similarly, a website with the majority of traffic coming from organic sources would be better off investing in new blog content, social posts or a site-copy overhaul. While there are many ways to market a self-storage facility, the key to success is finding the path that works best for your business.
Michael Seymour is the director of business development for Tomins, a business-insurance solution designed with entrepreneurs in mind. It offers a variety of coverages including business owner policy, general liability, commercial property, workers’ compensation and more. For more information, call 817.500.4140; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.tomins.com.