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Stop Making These 4 Marketing Mistakes Plus Some Pro Tips to Level Up Your Marketing Skills

Even when you're an experienced marketer in the self storage industry, it can be easy to make mistakes when you're managing many different channels and wear a lot of hats. The first step in avoiding many of these common pitfalls is awareness.

Here are four of the most common mistakes in the online space paired up with specific and actionable advice. Being aware of these marketing mistakes and putting preventative measures in place can help save you time and, more importantly, boost your results to achieve the business goals that matter

Don't Set It and Forget It

Are you investing in a website upgrade? A recent study by HubSpot shows that 63% of marketers are looking to make a website upgrade this year. This is because the majority of online shoppers start their research online, you need to make sure your website is serving the needs of prospects and customers alike.

Today's online shopper is savvy, and you're likely losing to the competition if you blend in with a cookie-cutter website. A website is one of your most important marketing assets, it should provide a great first impression. REITs are often investing large portions of their marketing budget to continually update their website technology and test new changes to improve performance.

Web strategy covers many different aspects, but in 2022 your main objectives should include mobile experience, accessibility, load times, and serving your audience's needs without obstacles (aka user experience). Don't set up a template website just to check the box. Smart marketers are analyzing their website and making optimizations to improve conversion rate, helping them improve SEO and achieve bigger business goals.

Pro Tip: Think of your website as an ongoing A/B test, it's vital to have a web strategy that understands the user journey and can adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape.

Don't Forget to Measure ROI

How do you know if your marketing efforts are paying off? First off, make sure your marketing efforts are being tracked with true transparency and understanding. A common mistake is to look at the analytics and not understand where those numbers are coming from or what they really mean. For example, simply looking at site traffic or "conversions" without understanding how those numbers are tracked - are you tracking unique page views or just general website traffic? One number will be lower, but it also gives a more accurate depiction of qualified shoppers. Conversions is another common (and important) metric to track, but be sure you understand what is considered a conversion. Is this someone who clicked the"“Get Directions" button on a listing, or simply called the facility? It's important to distinguish highly qualified leads from simple actions engaging with your brand.

Once you've determined how to track qualified traffic and conversions, the one metric that is most valuable to watch is your CPA (cost per acquisition). This is the metric you will use to determine if you are making a positive return from your marketing investment. CPA is not exclusive to online efforts and is something that should be monitored across all marketing channels that your business utilizes. To calculate cost per acquisition, simply total the amount of marketing spend and divide by the number of conversions (ideally reservations or rentals).

Many business owners are still wondering - how do you know what a good cost per acquisition is? The answer may be different for everyone, but you need to understand what the value of a customer (tenant) is to your business. As a starting point, you can calculate customer lifetime value in three steps:

Find the average tenant stay in months

Find the average rate per customer

Multiply these two together for average revenue per customer

Then, as an example, if your cost per acquisition is $200, and your customer value is $1,000 you are getting a positive ROI. Eventually, the goal is to decrease the cost per acquisition, thus boosting the return on investment through analysis and continual optimizations.

Pro Tip: Think of your website as an ongoing A/B test, it's vital to have a web strategy that understands the user journey and can adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape.

Don't Expect to Play the Google Game for Free

The cost of digital advertising is increasing, but Google Ads is still one of the best strategies when leasing up and generating more leads/leases. There is a reason Google and Facebook's main source of revenue is advertising - their organic (unpaid) real estate is shrinking, while more and more space is dedicated to paid ads. It's rare to be able to dominate organically without a paid ad strategy, so don't always expect to be on the first page of Google for free.

Over the past few years, REITs have decreased their budget for traditional marketing channels (direct mail, commercials, radio, etc.) and allocated a significant increase to their digital ad budgets. That is for two main reasons: 1). because digital advertising is highly trackable and can prove direct impact (ROI) 2). that's where the people are; 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. If you want to compete with the REITs, expect to compete with them in the digital ad space.

Just because digital advertising is a critical channel, doesn't mean you should be throwing darts at a wall and hoping they stick. Focus on a few things:

Think hyper-local. Start with a 5 mile radius around your facility as a general rule of thumb. If you have more granular data, use zip code targeting based on your tenant addresses (this can be pulled from your management software). It's okay to go more broad to see if you can "get more", but you should expect your cost per acquisition to increase as you're likely to pull in (and pay for) more unqualified traffic.

Landing page experience. Make sure you are sending users to a dedicated landing page that is relevant and useful based on the ad. This page should help the searcher take the next step in the decision making process and provide needed information. Again, focus on load speed, mobile-first design, and a customized experience.

Website conversion rate. Before maxing out your ad budget, make sure the conversion rate on your site is strong. If you have a low converting site, you're just going to pay to send more traffic to your site that isn't likely to convert. This is a waste of ad spend and poor return.

Pro Tip: Think of your website as an ongoing A/B test, it's vital to have a web strategy that understands the user journey and can adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape.

Don't Make Rank Your #1 Goal

At the core of this myth is a truth - a higher placement on Google will lead to more website visits from potential tenants searching online, and that traffic is valuable because users go to Google when they are in the buying phase of their journey. The lie is that fixating on higher ranking alone will promise you progress toward the goal of more qualified traffic.

Search engine results pages (SERPs) aren't what they used to be. Your query will not produce a perfectly ordered list of links based purely upon keywords anymore. Instead, you can expect images, videos, maps, featured snippets, and all sorts of other results aimed at providing users with the best result based on their customized search history and online behaviors. Rank is also not concrete; it changes based on where you are geographically standing. There is not one rank number/position, it is a spectrum of rank based on a large variety of keywords, phrases, and locations.

If you're in a position where you think you should rank higher, start paying attention to what Google cares about: the quality of your website content, its relevance to your target audience, the language and tone used and its presentation matter to the user. Satisfying the user will in turn make Google happy. Change your mindset - the purpose of search engines is to give users personalized and accurate results for their query; this should be your intention as well. Stop obsessing over ranking first on Google, and start obsessing over how users interact with your website. Use data to make thoughtful decisions and watch your site become a useful tool to attract more prospective tenants.

A better indicator of your page's usefulness is how much qualified traffic it's getting. Pay attention to click through rate (CTR), which measures the amount of users who saw your page listed on their results page and then actually clicked it. You could rank well for your intended keywords, get tons of impressions, but then see a low click through rate, few conversions, and generally not make any money for your efforts. Again, the goal is to make everything about your page easy to navigate, direct, and detailed enough to convert qualified searchers.

Digital marketing is always evolving and it can be tough to keep up or even know if you're making all the right decisions. With complex ad strategies, search engine optimization, reputation management, content creation, social media management, conversion rate optimization, and more, it's a lot to juggle.

Keep these common mistakes in mind when prioritizing your time and attention. Make this the year you truly understand the marketing metrics and what is impacting your bottom line the most. Be the best at providing an online experience that serves your tenants and future tenants. Learn from these mistakes and make the necessary changes to continually improve. And finally, don't be afraid to find a partner that can help fill the gaps (of time and knowledge).