In the world of self storage, if your marketing program could target one specific prospective customer, who would it be? I would say it’s the customer who is, in this precise moment, actively searching for the exact product and service you sell (self storage units with helpful customer service). Specifically, I would answer that I would like to target:
- Someone in my local geographical market.
- Someone who is actively raising their hand and proclaiming that they are in need of a self storage unit.
- Someone who is far along in their customer journey and ready to move in today.
In the world of marketing, everything mentioned above is considered “bottom-of-funnel”. At the bottom of the marketing funnel, you have the best likelihood of turning a lead into a happy, paying customer. The customer is ready to commit to your self storage facility today.
By contrast, “top-of-funnel” marketing strategies are often about the (very) long-term. Such strategies may not drive sales immediately. Rather, they are catered to building brand awareness. While top-of-funnel activity is important, especially as your business and marketing program scales, it’s always best to start with the bottom-of-funnel strategies, especially when your organization (and marketing budgets) are lean.
PPC: The Quintessential Bottom-of-Funnel Marketing Channel
Today, I want to introduce a marketing channel called pay per click (or PPC for short). Falling under the umbrella of search engine marketing (or SEM for short), PPC is a digital marketing channel that embodies precise, bottom-of-funnel marketing. It is a channel that can truly increase demand and sales for your self storage facility, immediately. This channel, if used properly, can consistently drive new business on demand.
What is PPC?
Please head on over to Google and type in “self storage”. Whether you are on a desktop computer, laptop computer, tablet, or smartphone, you will have a reasonably consistent experience. At the top of the page, you will see links to businesses that say “Ad”. These are the pay per click advertisements, with advertisers paying each time someone clicks.
Lower on the page, you will see additional links to businesses and content that do not say “Ad”. Those are considered the free, organic search results. The topic of search engine optimization (or SEO, for short) will be saved for another day. Today, we want to talk about the paid ads at the top.
Please note that PPC does not only apply to Google. You can also find PPC ads on Bing and Yahoo! as well (powered my Bing Ads and Yahoo! Gemini).
How Can I Get Started In PPC?
With Google commanding 64% of the desktop search market (according to comScore), the easiest way to get started in PPC is with Google AdWords. As long as you have a website representing your self storage business (with a lead form and/or phone number), you can get started and have leads coming your way within hours.
In terms of getting started, you really have two routes. You can do it yourself or partner with a trusted digital marketing agency. Both routes work great, and you could always dabble around yourself and then later bring on an agency after you have achieved proof of concept.
If you are interested in testing our PPC yourself, I want to share five basic tips for beginners in the self storage industry that will guide you towards great success.
Top 5 PPC Tips For Beginners In The Self Storage Industry
Tip 1: Set A Test Budget and Stick To It
With parent company Alphabet’s market capitalization of $682 billion dollars and the majority of revenue coming from advertisements, the opportunity spend massive amounts of money advertising on Google is very easy. For this very reason, always start with a strict budget. Never run a campaign without a budget. Your budget will protect you and ensure that you do not spend over your desired limit.
Tip 2: Leverage Radius Geo Targeting To Ensure You Target The Right Prospective Customers
Let’s say you own a self storage facility in downtown San Francisco, California. It is quite unlikely that someone who lives in San Jose, California will be interested in your facility (unless they actively conduct business in San Francisco which is about 55 miles away). It is even less likely that someone in Los Angeles, California will be interested. For this very reason, always leverage Google’s geo targeting settings for your self storage campaigns. I personally like using longitude/latitude targeting of my specific facility and then advertising to prospective customers within a 3-mile radius (yes, Google makes all of this easy).
Bonus Tip: Consider day parting your ads. Google AdWords allows you to schedule your ads to run during certain times of the day and week. When you’re just starting out, consider running exclusively during business hours. Otherwise, you run the risk of someone clicking your ad and calling at a time when your on-site managers are not available to pick up the phone. (Even if you have an after-hours answering service, I always prefer having my on-site managers help customers coming in from the PPC channel.)
Tip 3: Start With A Very Small Keyword List To Optimize Time
In the world of Google AdWords, it is very easy to get overwhelmed. To keep things manageable in the busy (and often resource constrained) world of self storage, try to simplify everything you do. An easy way to do this: Focus on just a handful of keywords, on exact match only. In terms of keywords, consider buying your brand name and also some of the very popular terms like “self storage”, “self storage unit”, and “self storage facility”. You can always add more keywords later. If you start with just five or ten keywords, you are great.
Tip 4: Begin With Exact Match To Filter Out Unwanted Traffic
Google AdWords offers a variety of “match types” to enhance your targeting. While the topic of match type is beyond the scope of today’s basics, I do want to share the most fundamental match type of exact match. When you buy a keyword on exact match, your ad will only show up when the consumer types that exact query into Google. Exact match is the most pure match type and the one that offers advertisers the most control. When you are just starting out, exact match can ensure your success and profitability. When entering your keywords into Google, make sure you are buying exact only.
Bonus Tip: In addition to leveraging exact match, consider starting out with strong bids so you show up towards the top of the paid results. When you first start out, your initial results will shape the quality score of your entire account. While quality score is again beyond the scope of today’s post, I do want to share the tips that will set you up for long-term success, as your program scales.
Tip 5: Focus On Outstanding Ad Creative To Differentiate Your Self Storage Facility
PPC ads do not offer an incredible amount of space. You have limited characters available to entice prospective customers to visit your website. When it comes to creative, get thoughtful and spend time. In addition to attracting the right customers, great ad creative will be rewarded by Google. The higher your click-through-rate (clicks / ad impressions) as compared to others in your competitive landscape, Google will reward you with higher ad position and lower cost-per-click (CPC).
Bonus Tip: Sit down with your local on-site managers. Brainstorm creative as a team. Learn the types of words and phrases customers use when speaking with on-site management.
Conclusion and Bonus Tip 6: Measure Results Carefully, But Also Don’t Delay
As you venture into paid search, have a plan to measure results. A few tracking ideas from simplest to most sophisticated:
- Ask every new customer how they heard about you and tally up the results. When you launch PPC, expect to hear that more people found out about you via “Google Ads”.
- Consider a dedicated landing page on your website with a special phone number and lead form. Send paid ads to that specific landing page. That way, you can precisely track leads from the PPC channel.
- Partner with an agency who can help you set up Google AdWords or Google Analytics conversion tracking. (Or, teach yourself if you have some time.) Challenge your agency to educate you on the latest tracking technologies such as attribution.
All of this being said, I encourage you to start immediately. Your PPC strategy can evolve over time. Be agile, start with a small and basic strategy. Don’t worry about analysis paralysis, and start driving results today!