Inflation continues to rise throughout our country, causing many to start cutting down on things they deem to be unnecessary expenses. Unfortunately for the self storage industry, these unnecessary expenses tend to come in the form of storage units for many across the country. This is causing many companies to reassess their marketing budgets to save money and figure out how to fill those vacancies.
On a recent episode of the Sounds of Storage podcast, host Amy Campbell of Inside Self Storage sat down with Go Local Interactive’s Director of Marketing Melanie Terschak to discuss marketing in the self storage industry during times of high inflation. Continue reading or listen to the full podcast to learn more about how marketing has changed in the self storage industry, which marketing channels self storage operators should be investing in during this time, and how marketing operators can ensure their efforts are having a positive impact.
How Has Marketing Changed in the Self Storage Industry in the Last Few Years?
As Terschak explains, COVID led to a huge push for contactless rentals and move-ins. This caused a major push for storage companies to quickly add an option for tenants to rent and access their units online as many were hesitant to go into a leasing office even if it was open. Websites and technology became critical during this time. While many of Go Local’s clients already had online leasing, the language used in marketing products needed to shift to include that contactless wording so clients knew that those businesses offered a fully online experience.
With lots of housing changes, occupancy rates also began going up, which led many in the self storage industry to pull back on advertising. This major boom in high occupancy rates allowed companies to save money on Google Ads since their properties were full. This also caused costs per click to decrease, making it cheaper to advertise on Google. After this boom, however, things have begun to slow down, so the marketing continues to shift.
Which Marketing Channels Should Self Storage Operators Be Investing In?
Even though occupancy rates were increasing over the last few years, high inflation has recently caused this to shift leading to lower occupancy rates and search volume decreasing. This has led competition to increase as well as costs per click on Google ads. With these recent trends, it can be hard for self storage companies to know where to focus their marketing efforts. Luckily, Terschak has some advice for the different areas these companies should be focusing on in terms of marketing strategies.
Focus on Creating a Good, Mobile-Friendly Website
Since there are fewer people searching for a storage unit, you want to make sure it’s easy for those who happen to make it to your website to convert. Once clients get to your site, it needs to be easy for them to find answers to their questions as well as seamlessly rent a unit online. Having a great website becomes especially important if you have a high Google Ads spend as it maximizes your opportunity for conversions.
It is also important for self storage companies to focus on having mobile-friendly websites. Terschak explains that “[about] 60% of self storage users are on a mobile device.” However, “people are less likely to rent storage on their mobile devices because the process is difficult to get through.” Make sure to test your website on a mobile device to see if the customer experience is as seamless as it is on a desktop. Then come up with ways to optimize that experience for customers.
Work on Increasing Organic Traffic
As occupancy decreases and costs per click increases, you will start to see larger companies spending more on this type of marketing, making it important to focus on organic traffic. One way to improve on this is to make sure your website is SEO-friendly. When you have a website that utilizes SEO best practices, you are receiving free traffic since you don’t have to pay per click.
Work on producing good, SEO-friendly content and check to make sure you are ranking well on Google. Be aware, however, that SEO efforts can take about three to six months to see the impact on ranking. Be patient with the process and dedicate time to it now to see those efforts come to fruition in the coming months.
Another component of organic traffic is your Google Business Profile. Make sure your profile is completely filled out with correct information, business descriptions, and photos. According to Terschak, “One-third of all traffic is coming from Google Maps for [Go Local’s] clients.” If you take the time to focus on your Google Business Profile, you will increase your likelihood of showing up in the map pack leading to more leads and more potential conversions.
Invest in Cheaper, Upper-Funnel Campaigns
When it comes to costs per click, Terschak explains that Go Local tends to use this strategy to fill in the gaps if you have properties not ranking well organically. Being able to advertise there is important as long as you understand it is going to be more expensive than it has been in the past. Because of this, Terschak recommends running some cheaper, upper-funnel-type campaigns.
When you run display and discovery upper-funnel campaigns, it can help people recognize your brand easily because they’ve seen you online. This can potentially lead to more people walking in, and it will save you some money as these costs per click can be as cheap as 20 cents. Emphasizing brand awareness pieces can be a cheaper way to spend some of your marketing budget.
How Can Marketing Operators Ensure Their Efforts Are Having a Positive Business Impact?
After investing in all of the above marketing strategies, it’s important for marketing operators at self storage companies to ensure their efforts are actually having a positive impact. Terschak emphasizes that tracking is critical. All self storage companies should make sure they are tracking everything in order to make informed decisions based on the data they collect.
It’s also important to monitor how each of your programs is contributing to your move-ins. Make sure you have something in place to track your phone calls and how they are generating, as well as a way to track which channels are producing the most leads. At Go Local Interactive, our websites are able to track online rentals and reservations by source to see how many move-ins can be contributed to paid ads versus organic traffic. We have also been testing with some AI technology that will allow us to score phone calls to see how many of the phone calls generated were actual leads.
Overall, pay attention to every dollar you spend and what exactly you are getting out of it. Cut anything that isn’t performing well so you can invest in things that are performing better. With these efforts in place, you should be able to pivot and adjust based on what is working.
Get the Most Out of Your Marketing Efforts With Go Local Interactive Today
If your self storage company is looking for a way to improve your marketing efforts, come to Go Local Interactive. Our team is equipped with a wealth of knowledge and experience to handle any large-scale local search marketing campaign. We provide high-quality services in several areas, including content, SEO, paid media, and web development.