Does Self Storage Have a Silver Bullet?
Quickly learn the secret that will increase occupancy, decrease expenses, and enhance manager performance. Every self storage operator will benefit from the topics discussed in this article.
What if I told you a secret that increases occupancy, decreases expenses, and enhances manager performance? Intrigued?
Well without further adieu, the secret I'm referring to is marketing tracking... tracking your marketing effectively so you know what marketing efforts are really working for you and which ones are wasting your money. When I say marketing tracking I'm not referring to just asking the customer how they found you. Today's customers use multiple marketing channels to find your facility and most likely have done the same for other facilities as well. So by the time you ask them how they found you, they are not going to have an accurate answer. Not only that, they honestly don't care to remember how they found you. They have a hectic schedule and all they care about is getting their stuff out of their messy garage.
If customers can't accurately tell you how they found your facility and that's the only data you're using to track your marketing then you're going to be making decisions based on faulty data. And since the goal of tracking your marketing is to be able to determine what's working and what isn't, it's very important to have accurate data.
So how do you ensure that your tracking data is accurate? If asking the customer doesn't work what are your other options? First let's talk about what to track, and then we'll get into the how.
Tracking Prospects. When you look at a marketing source you really need to analyze all of the ways prospects can contact you from that marketing source so you're sure to track them all. For example, if you have a website that gives the customer the option to reserve online, you might think that the main thing for you to track will be online reservations. But don't forget that your phone number is also posted on your website, so you need to track calls. Many times your email address is also, so be sure to track emails. And lastly, do you have your address posted or any maps or driving directions on your website? Because of this you also will be receiving walk-in customers. We'll talk more in depth shortly about how you can track each of these, but just keep in mind that with every marketing source you need to carefully analyze every avenue prospects use to contact you.
Tracking Rentals. Here's where it matters most...you want to be able to track how many rentals each of your marketing sources is bringing you.
The main reason for tracking rentals down to each marketing source is to determine your Cost per Acquisition, or Cost per Rental. Simply put, Cost per Acquisition (CPA) is how much it costs you to get a new tenant. CPA is the most effective way to evaluate which marketing sources are working and which ones aren't.
Once you're effectively tracking your prospects and tenants CPA is easy to calculate. Just take your monthly or annual cost for that marketing source divided by the number of tenants it produced in that time and you will have your CPA. Once you know your CPA for all of your marketing sources you can compare them head to head to see which ones are most effective. In fact, CPA is the only way to effectively compare marketing sources that cost you $3,000 per month with those that cost you $100 per month. You may find that the marketing source that costs $100 per month only brings you two new tenants ($50 CPA) and the marketing source that costs $3,000 per month brings you ten new tenants ($300 CPA). At first glance, you might think that the one that brings you ten new tenants is more effective because it's bringing you a higher volume of tenants; when in fact, you're paying 6 times as much per tenant with that marketing source as you are with the other one! In some cases you'll find that some of your marketing sources are so ineffective (have such a high CPA), that you can make the decision to cut them immediately. This is where the value of tracking really kicks in!
Where do you start? Now that you know how valuable it is to ensure you are tracking, what can you do to ensure your tracking methods are accurate? Two tracking methods I recommend most (beyond just asking the customer how they found you) are unique phone tracking and unique coupon tracking. Both are pretty simple and entail using a unique phone number and unique coupon code on each marketing source you want to track. By doing so you can know that when a customer calls in on a specific line or mentions a specific coupon code he or she has found you from the marketing source connected with it.
Phone Tracking. Phone tracking technology is inexpensive, very simple to use, and the data is foolproof. It allows you to run reports on your calls such as volume of calls, duration of calls, time of day most calls are being answered or missed, and more. Also, most phone tracking technologies allow you to record every call. Once you have all of this data, you can then start to get a feel for the number and quality of calls being provided by each marketing source. By listening to the calls you can know without a doubt whether or not a prospect rented.
I recommend you use unique tracking phone numbers in as many places as possible ' definitely on Yellow Page ads, any direct mail pieces or newspaper advertising, your website, and on any affiliate websites you may advertise on.
Unique Coupon Codes & Specials. Unique coupon tracking is also very easy to implement and can be a useful way to track all forms of prospects, walk-ins, calls, and emails. Just make sure that on each marketing source you'd like to track your coupon code is unique. That way when customers mention the promotion, your managers can ask what the coupon code is and give credit to the correct marketing source. For example, if a customer calls and mentions that they saw your ad for a free truck rental and you know that the only place you have that printed is on your sign you can know for sure that the customer saw your sign while driving by. You can then, with confidence, call this customer a drive by customer.
With all of the advertising you are doing it's most likely not feasible to come up with a unique special to feature on each one ' the alternative is to use a unique coupon code. For example, maybe your special is First Month Free and you want to promote it on all of your advertising. That's great, but make sure that you put a unique coupon code on each one (First Month Free!* Mention coupon code ABC) so that when the prospect mentions that he or she saw your ad for First Month Free you can prompt them to mention which coupon code they saw. Doing this will once again allow you to track that coupon code back to the marketing source it's featured on. Be sure that you or your managers really prompt the customer to mention the entire special or coupon code. Since you're running the First Month Free special everywhere it is extremely important that you get the coupon code, or your data may not be accurate.
Many management software programs allow you to input these coupon codes and/or marketing sources. This makes it very easy to run reports on how many coupon codes were redeemed in a certain time frame. You can also run reports on the sizes that were rented and how long the customer stayed to get a good feel for how valuable these customers are to you.
All of this might seem like it will take more time than it's worth, but I guarantee you that once you take the time to set it all up and get your systems in place you will not regret it. You will be able to make more informed and confident marketing decisions and will eventually be able to cut ineffective marketing to trim your marketing budget!
Article Tags: Each Marketing Source, Unique Coupon Code, First Month Free, Which Ones, Marketing Source, Marketing Sources, Each Marketing, Phone Tracking, Unique Coupon, Coupon Code, Coupon Codes, First Month, Month Free
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megan Eckert is Executive Vice President for USstoragesearch.com, an online storage directory providing service to more than 9,000 self & mobile storage facilities in the U.S. Their unique online marketing program allows operators to instantly put their facilities in front of customers searching the Internet for storage in their local area for a very reasonable fee. For more information call 866.880.0742 or visit http://www.usstoragesearch.com .