Using Analytics to Measure the Success of Your Self Storage Marketing Campaign
Tim Schlee |February 28, 2014
The most important part of any marketing campaign is the analysis after it’s over. Was it successful? Did it produce an increase in leads and rentals for your storage facility? If you can’t answer these questions, then you can’t know whether your campaign was worth the money.
Whether you’re buying a billboard or simply posting more on Facebook, your website’s analytics can be a great tool to help you determine the success of a marketing campaign.
I spoke with Tom Cox, Director of Marketing and Technology at Strat Property Management, Inc., as well as our own account managers to learn more about how a storage facility can use web metrics to analyze its marketing.
Note: Google Analytics is used to discuss various website analytics features, but most other platforms should have similar functions.
Set Up Your Marketing Campaign Correctly
It’s important to take steps at the beginning of a marketing campaign to ensure that it will be easily measurable and analyzed down the line.
Use Tracking Numbers
There are plenty of services out there that allow you to track phone calls by assigning different numbers to different mediums. For example, you don’t want the phone number on your home page to be the same as the one on your pay-per-click ad. This will lump all the traffic into the same category, regardless of whether it’s a returning customer checking your site for your number or a new customer who found you through a search engine.
You might wonder what phone calls have to do with website analytics. With increasing innovations, analytics programs are able to incorporate phone call data directly into your website’s statistics. This means that when you want to learn about your traffic sources, all the data from all the various tracking numbers you’ve set up are available right next to your web traffic courses.
Tag and/or Shorten URLs
Similar to setting up a tracking number, tagging a URL will carry information into your analytics program about its source. This service is usually available within the analytics program, where you can customize a URL so that it can be categorized more specifically and usefully. While not as technically involved, shortening a link is also a good idea, especially on social media platforms where long links are cumbersome and distracting. This is usually a free service provided by an external site or provider, such as bitly. Once you’ve set up tracking numbers and tagged or shortened your URLs, you’re on your way to an easily measured and analyzed marketing campaign.
Use Goals in Your Analytics Tool
One of the best features in Google Analytics and other analytics software is the ability to set up goals and funnels. A basic understanding of goals will allow you to track the various paths a person takes, for example, to the “thank you” page after a unit rental.
Setting up Goals and Funnels
A goal can be set up in Google Analytics by scrolling down on the left-hand menu until you reach the section shown above. When setting up a goal, you have several options regarding what you want to track:
The most useful goal type for a storage facility will probably be “destination.” Assign the “thank you” page after a reservation or a transaction as the destination and you will be able to track the various sources and paths that a user used to arrive at their destination.
In order to do this, you will need to set up a funnel: A funnel will show you the path that was taken to reach the destination. Be sure that none of the steps are listed as required (bottom right) if you want to track other paths as well. When this is done, you will then have the ability to parse through the various ways a user reached the destination and, perhaps more importantly, the ways a user failed to reach the destination. Of course, there are other goal types available. If you’ve embedded a new tutorial video on your home page, you could set up a goal to track the “event” of playing the video and see how useful the new function turns out to be.
Analyzing Goals and Funnels
Goals and funnels are an incredibly useful tool for monitoring any weak points in your website and marketing campaigns:
• Landing page. If many of your potential customers are leaving directly from the page they’re landing on, it’s possible that the page is confusing or poorly written. Alternatively, your marketing campaign could be attracting the wrong audience or sending the right audience to the wrong location on your website.
• Calls to action. If your calls to action are weak, users are likely making it past the first few pages of your website but aren’t making that last push to the finish line. Experiment with new language or different layouts to encourage a higher conversion rate.
• Intermediary pages. If people are clicking through several pages but not reaching the transaction page, your website might need to be streamlined to direct traffic more quickly to the rental page (or whatever other destination you want). Your online marketing campaigns should direct potential customers to a landing page closer to the final objective you want to reach.
These kinds of considerations are very important when analyzing the success of a marketing campaign. A considered look at your analytics data can point out some points to improve upon, whether that means directing people to a page other than your home page or looking into different target audiences or even different mediums.
Analyze Traffic Sources
If you need more information about the audiences you’ve attracted with your marketing campaign and where they’re coming from, take a look your traffic sources. In Google Analytics, find the Acquisition tab on the left-hand menu.
Here is where all your traffic information will be located. There are three main sources of traffic:
- Direct traffic. These are people who type your URL directly into their browser. Many of these are returning customers, although some new customers may navigate directly to your URL after seeing an advertisement.
- Referrals. Referrals are visitors who come from other websites, such as Facebook or an online aggregator. Most analytics software offer detailed breakdowns of the various sites your visitors are coming from, and tagged or shortened links help ensure your referral sources are categorized correctly.
- Search engine traffic. These are visitors who reached your site through a search engine. You can generally find information about what search engine was used and which keywords were searched, although Google and others are making it more difficult to keep track of keyword searches. Keep in mind that some of your returning customers might not remember your exact URL and instead search your company name, so not all search engine traffic is made up of new customers.
With this arsenal of statistics and figures at hand, you can learn a lot about the success of your marketing campaign. For example, if your Twitter campaign is accompanied by an increase in web traffic, you might think it was successful. If you then take a look at your referral sources and see your Twitter traffic hasn’t increased, then the campaign was not successful but merely coincided with a spike in traffic. Your money in the future might be better spent elsewhere.
Compare to Other Facilities
One of the best ways to document the success of a marketing campaign is to compare the traffic data of one facility to that of another. If you have two facilities, Facility A and Facility B, and you put money into a pay-per-click advertising campaign to promote Facility A, you would expect it to have higher traffic than Facility B, especially if their performance beforehand was very similar.
Compare to Past Results
With storage usage spiking so highly in the summer and dropping low in the winter, it can be difficult to find a valid point of comparison on the timeline. “You have to look at data over several years,” said Cox.
If, for example, a Facebook campaign was launched in September, the general downtrend of rentals in the fall might not mean your campaign was unsuccessful. Comparing your current numbers to those of a previous year could indicate that your rentals dropped at a slower rate this year than they did in the past. By this metric, the Facebook campaign was a success.
Compare to Leads and Rentals
If a marketing campaign produced more website traffic but no increase in leads or rentals, then there is a kink in the hose somewhere. “If your traffic goes up but your leads don’t, then you need to look at your call to action,” said Cox. If leads increase but rentals stay the same: “Listen to phone calls. It could be a bad manager who’s not converting.”
Social Media Analytics
Most social media websites have their own analytics platforms that you can use to chart the performance of your profile. This is especially useful when engaging in a social media campaign in which the primary goal might not be to drive more traffic to your website but to increase engagement within the community. Comparing numbers with your accounts on other websites or with your performance in the past can lead to useful conclusions about the success of such a campaign, even if it had no effect on overall leads and rentals.
Whatever tools you’re using, website analytics can be very useful in determining the success of a marketing campaign. “Website analytics are a great way to grasp the quality of leads coming from a source,” said Cox.
“Analytics help you diagnose the symptoms,” said Soto. Once you’ve diagnosed the symptoms, you can work to fix the kinks and improve the performance of your next self storage marketing campaign.