Any time you spend money on your business, you want to know it’s helping your business win. So where is the best place to spend your marketing money - and how can you measure the value of your marketing spending? Whether you’re in a competitive market and wondering if advertising on Nextdoor is your best bet, curious about advertising on a self storage aggregator, or thinking about working within your community to establish credibility in your area and build local links online, your marketing effectiveness will largely depend on your brand’s goals.
If you haven’t already, start with our blog post on measuring your marketing return on investment (ROI) and average lifetime value of a customer (ALV). You’ll learn the relationship between ROI and ALV, and see how various marketing efforts stack up when compared side-by-side. But remember: it all depends on your business’s unique needs. Things like your location, your target market, and your market saturation all come into play. But don’t worry - we’re going to go over all of that! Read on to get a simple plan for measuring your storage business’s marketing dollars.
It’s nearly impossible to track how effective your marketing is if you don’t have a solid goal. If your facility is brand new, your marketing goal might be to fill up your units fast to get rent coming in consistently. If you’re looking to renovate your property, your marketing goal might be to drive higher-price rentals like RV or boat parking, large indoor units, or climate controlled spaces. Whatever your goals are, establish them, write them down, and make sure they’re SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.
To evaluate the effectiveness of any marketing campaign, you’ll need to establish your key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are metrics that support your marketing goals (and hopefully your big picture business strategy). Your KPIs will depend on the sources you’re using for marketing. For example, if you don’t have a website for your storage business and all of your marketing dollars go to driving phone calls for your business, your KPIs would be much different than a storage facility with online move-ins on their website. You’d simply have to track different things to find out if your marketing is working. It’s much easier to track marketing effectiveness online using analytics and tracking tools - which is great news for your storage website. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be looking at common KPIs for self storage brands with an online presence.
If you don’t have KPIs established yet, let me suggest four basic ones to help you get started:
By tracking your KPIs monthly (or even weekly, if you’re trying something new and spendy), you’ll be able to assess your marketing effectiveness across tons of popular sources, like Google, Facebook, radio, and even billboards. Let’s explore these four basic KPIs more:
How do visitors find your self storage website? Without investigating your traffic sources, you’ll only have an educated guess. Using a powerful web analytics tool like Google Analytics, you can break down your website traffic by direct navigation (users who type your URL into their address bar), referral traffic (users who find you via tracked links on social media, emails, promotions, etc.), organic search (users who find you through a query on a search engine), and pay-per-click (PPC) traffic (users who click through from a PPC ad such as Google Adwords). You can find your average traffic across all sources and total traffic per month to see a big picture view of how your marketing website is performing.
Once you know this information, you can use it as marketing fuel. Find out your most popular traffic source and how people are finding your business, assess the worth of your marketing spending by breaking down your cost per click from your PPC ads, and come up with new ways to bring in more traffic via your business’s top sources. For example, if organic search is bringing in the most traffic for your business, you could invest more marketing money into fresh content for your website like blog posts, videos, and how-to guides to rank for more relevant keyword searches.
Using the same analytics tools as above, you can find out how many of your monthly website visitors filled out a contact form on your website, called your facility, or set up a reservation for a storage unit or parking spot. Since Google Analytics traces them all the way back to their traffic source, you’re able to find out which sources are producing the most leads for your business, and which ones are just driving wasted traffic to your website. You can also get more critical: is there a reason users are finding you through Google but are not converting to leads? Maybe your website is slow to load, is hard to view on mobile devices, or is showing up for queries that aren’t relevant to self storage (like food storage tips for your pantry).
If you find you’re getting strong leads from a specific lead source (like radio promotions in the above example), you’ll know to keep the marketing dollars going to support your radio campaign. If you try something new, you’ll also get quick feedback letting you know if it worked or if the idea was a flop. You can use this data to break down your cost per lead, determine your top-performing lead source, and assess the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns.
What’s more important than leads? Move-ins, of course! You can find out how many move-ins resulted from your traffic sources using these same Google Analytics tools. In the above example, you can see how many users rented a storage unit online after finding the self storage website via my various marketing sources.
In the example above, you can see that of the 2,292 users who found your website through an organic search on Google, there were 2 users who rented a storage unit or parking space online through your website. While Google Analytics is unable to tell if a lead became a customer after calling or walking into your facility, you can fill in the blanks by asking new renters how they found your website or facility and create an even more robust marketing data set. Using this information, you can break down your marketing cost per renter, compare average move-ins per month to marketing dollars, and see your total move-ins for various sources.
Investigating your search ranking is simple. For example, if you offer student storage and you’re close to BYU in Salt Lake City, find out how your website shows up for relevant queries like “self storage near Brigham Young University,” “student storage in Provo, UT” or “storage units 84602.” While you shouldn’t obsess over search engine ranking and you certainly won’t rank #1 for all keywords you can think of related to self storage, it’s important to keep an eye on it since it’s such a driver of traffic for your business online.
An example of a keyword ranking tracker tool, AWR Cloud, for an example facility in Provo, UT.
To check your search engine ranking, don’t just Google yourself - there’s lots of reasons why this doesn’t work (scroll to the bottom of this post to get the details on how Googling yourself hurts your search ranking). Use professional ranking tools like serps.com or awrcloud.com to find your website’s top keywords, track your website’s search engine position for various keywords, and analyze keyword differences between mobile and desktop search queries.
The key to success when measuring your storage brand’s marketing effectiveness is consistency. By creating monthly routines around analyzing your business’s marketing data, you’ll be able to create a spreadsheet hub with all of your marketing spending, costs per move-in, ALV, and ROI. You can even compare your summer advertising to winter advertising to see how renter activity changes and which source is most effective during your busy season.
The bottom line is, if one of your storage friends is bragging that Twitter brings him in tons of tenants, don’t just take them at their word and start throwing marketing dollars at advertising on Twitter - ask for the data and run a cheap campaign of your own to find out if your target renters are interested in this marketing tool. After a month or two of tracking, you’ll know whether or not the campaign was successful for your business based on hard data.
Thanks for reading! If you liked this blog post, you may also like: What’s the ROI on your self storage marketing efforts? (Infographic), 15 metrics every storage owner should be tracking, and What is Google Analytics - and how can it help your storage business?