Social media engagement and search engine optimization are getting more attention from marketers these days, and some businesses have shifted away from using e-newsletters to communicate with prospective and current customers. But according to market- and consumer-data firm Statista, the number of email users worldwide is set to reach 4.6 billion users by 2025. For this reason, email should still be a cornerstone of your self-storage marketing strategy.
A well-crafted newsletter can be leveraged to create customer loyalty and brand awareness as well as enhance your company’s bottom line. If you don’t already have an e-newsletter, it can be easier than you think to start one. Let’s look at how it can benefit your self-storage operation and some tips for creating successful sends.
Regularly connecting with your self-storage audience through an email newsletter can offer several advantages. Here are five key benefits:
1. It keeps your brand top-of-mind. Send your newsletters regularly to keep your brand and message in front of customers. If people can easily recall your name, they’re likely to contact you directly when they need storage rather than conduct a general search online.
2. It increases brand loyalty and builds customer trust. When used correctly, a newsletter can be a highly effective way to build trust and create a personal connection with self-storage customers. When you routinely provide subscribers with useful and relevant content, it’ll increase their confidence in your brand. Over time, they’ll come to believe in and trust your organization as a quality resource for products, services and information.
3. It increases website traffic. To convert prospects into paying customers, readers should feel invited, encouraged and incentivized to visit your website and browse content. Use clear call-to-action language in your newsletter to get readers to click through.
4. It drives sales and amplifies campaigns. Email newsletters can easily incorporate messages that stimulate a purchase or increase the reader’s knowledge about specific product features or site amenities. They can also be a timely way to inform customers about current or upcoming sales and promotions. Additionally, you can use your sends to qualify leads by monitoring whether they open your emails and click links.
5. It allows you to own your content and subscriber list. As soon as you post content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you give up some rights to it. In most cases, the platform owns the content you post as well as your follower list. This is why it’s critical to build your own email list. There are no restrictions on how you can communicate with these contacts, regardless of which email service they use. In addition, you own all of the content you create and send.
Now that you can see there are clear benefits of engaging your self-storage audience through an email newsletter, let’s explore some strategies for creating successful sends.
Identify your strategy and set goals. Setting clear objectives for your self-storage newsletter is critical from the outset. Think about what you want to accomplish through email marketing. Are you looking to promote your blog or increase your website visibility? Perhaps you’d like to increase social media engagement, raise company awareness, or give subscribers an exclusive first look at new products and services. Knowing up front what you want to achieve will make it easier to determine your newsletter’s tone, imagery and layout.
Select an email-management system. Even if you’re starting small with just a few hundred or even a few dozen subscribers, it’s wise to invest in an email-management system. Services like Mailchimp offer ready-to-go solutions that have become popular due to their affordability, ease of use and quality templates. Do your homework and consider multiple options. It’s essential to choose the right platform for your goals and technical needs.
Build a list of subscribers. While a robust and growing list of newsletter subscribers is the ultimate goal, you don’t need thousands of contacts to get started. Start small by engaging in more direct conversations with your readers. Solicit feedback and evaluate what your audience wants to see. When you’re ready to grow your list, host a giveaway or contest. Another way to start a consistent stream of interest is by offering exclusive content. Whatever you do, make sure you provide genuine value to readers. Consumers are savvy and don’t appreciate tactics that over promise and under deliver, or worse, come off as spammy.
Be upfront and set expectations. Make sure it’s clear to potential subscribers that they’re signing up for a recurring newsletter. It’s important that they have a clear way to opt in or out. When someone opts in, tell them what to expect, including if they’ll receive your newsletter weekly, monthly or quarterly. Set expectations, and then hold your self-storage business accountable for meeting them.
Be consistent. Building a successful newsletter requires a consistent approach. Once you’ve set expectations for frequency and found a style that represents your brand and audience alike, stick to it. Readers respond to a consistent design with cohesiveness and flow.
Create quality content. The readability and quality of your self-storage newsletter will determine whether subscribers choose to continue receiving your emails. Stay focused on your target audience and message. Your brand or content niche might lend itself to a long-form presentation, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Newsletters of 100 to 200 words, with click-through options to learn more, can be quite successful and even garner more engagement than a long read. The key is to figure out what’s valuable to your readers and then stay on message.
Optimize for mobile. Make sure your newsletter is optimized for the mobile experience. Approximately 47% of consumers use a mobile device to check emails, according to marketing-services provider 99firms. Depending on your audience, that number could be higher. Ensure your template is mobile-responsive and that images and copy are automatically optimized for viewing on various devices. Litmus and Email on Acid are excellent resources to help you test.
Don’t underestimate the importance of strong subject lines and preview text. Your newsletter subject line has a significant impact on whether a recipient chooses to open the message. The preview text, usually in the upper corner, is of similar importance and often visible to the user before opening. Compelling, attention-grabbing headlines will entice recipients to continue reading and keep them focused on the goal—your content! Keep headlines short and sweet. Up to 70 characters is a good rule of thumb, though shorter is ideal when possible.
Track performance. Don’t just send your hard work into cyberspace and walk away. Identify key metrics like bounce rate, open rate, click-through rate and unsubscribe rate. To increase your open rater, try adjusting your subject lines or the days and times you send your newsletter. To improve click-through, write catchier call-to-action copy or make it more prominent with bright colors and bold fonts. Newsletter results happen fast. You’ll have a solid idea of how your email performed within the first 48 hours of sending. Performance will change slightly after that timeframe, but if a subscriber doesn’t open and engage with the email in the first two days, chances are they won’t open it at all.
When executed effectively, email newsletters can be an indispensable part of a self-storage marketing strategy and a great way to keep customers connected to your brand. Follow the steps above to increase audience engagement and grow a bountiful list of subscribers.
Mike Beutler is digital content management specialist for Extra Space Storage Inc., a self-storage real estate investment trust and management company. He joined the business in 2020 after working in the airline industry for several years. He holds an associate degree from Weber State University and a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State University. For more information, call 866.447.6522; email [email protected].